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Strategy, Innovation, Leadership and Security

5S is an easy Japanese philosophy to improve your work environment

Behavior, Management, Motivation, OrganizationEdward KiledjianComment

My current employer is committed to achieving excellence and empowers its employees with simple yet powerful work strategies. One of the tools we use is called the 5S. It comes from the management practice of the Japanese giant Toyota and each of the 5 guiding principles start with the letter S: 

Seiri – Means to sort. It mandates that you get rid of anything that is underused or not used. It allows your employees to work in a clean environment with less distraction.

Seiton – Means to straighten. This is the mandate to streamline. The old adage of “A place for everything and everything in its place” is a great description for this step.  

Seiso – Means to sweep or shine. This is the concept of maintenance.  It is the principle of keeping the work area (and equipment) clean and tidy. Would you rather work in a pig pen or a clean office? The 5S process does provide some guidance and recommendations but feel free to extend it beyond these simple examples: 

  • Ensure adequate lighting in all work areas
  • Repair all work equipment
  • Clean work areas including floors, walls. ceilings, windows
  • Implement processes to minimize dirt (i.e. taking boots off at the entrance)
  • Conduct maintenance for work area and equipment 

Seiketsu – Means to standardize. This allows more people to do the same process thus creating redundancy. It also allows people to undertake more tasks since things are documented and easier to explain.  In this case, standards may apply to all aspects of your business including: 

  • Procedures
  • Processes
  • Work methods
  • and more 

Shitsuke – Means discipline. It is the step that 

  • Ensures people practice the rules
  • Form good habits
  • Look for opportunities to improve