Good Housekeeping with 5S Implementation

If your business needs a good house cleaning, then consider 5S Implementation. This Lean Office concept originated in Japan and is a method by which a business can get organized and stay organized. The 5S’s are:

  1. Seiri – this is a general sorting of the business processes, throwing away what does not work and keeping what does work
  2. Seiton – this is organization; giving everything its own place so it can be easily accessed when needed
  3. Seiso – cleaning up; getting rid of waste and making the operation shine
  4. Seiketsu – this is the maintenance phase; keeping things clean and in order
  5. Shitsuke – this is self-discipline; taking pride in what has been accomplished and adhering to the standards set forth in the first four steps

Looking at the 5S’s in more detail, the first one is possibly the most tedious and the most difficult. It is certainly the step the packrats will not like.  In the office, it means sorting through and discarding old data or anything else concerning information or processes that are not useful. It is getting rid of those things that have kept around “just in case”.

The second S is literally taking what is left over from the first S and putting it in its place. To do this everything must have a place, so it is important to organize and designate so that in the end nothing is free-floating.

The third S is a physical cleaning of the work area. While the office is not going to get as dirty as the factory floor, it still needs to be swept, washed, and tidied. The environment should be pleasant to work in and this step should be implemented into the daily routine.

The fourth S is a matter of maintaining what has been accomplished during the implementation of the first three S’s. This means continually improving and providing checklists and procedures in each department to ensure that the first three S’s are being implemented on a daily basis.

The final S is centered on discipline. The key is to motivate the people in the workplace to want to share in the maintenance of the 5S Implementation. Having them involved in the entire process as much as possible allows them to feel a sense of ownership and pride that they have made an impact on the business and the changes being made. In this way, employees will want to follow through because it falls in line with their own value system, not simply because they were told to.

As the parents set the example for a child in a family, so does management set the example for the rest of the business. In other words, management not only needs to be on board for 5S Implementation, it needs to lead the way. Without the leadership of upper management, any efforts toward 5S Implementation will fall by the wayside.
There are several ways in which to ensure a successful 5S Implementation. The first thing to know is that it should not be presented as an isolated program to be implemented haphazardly. 5S Implementation should be incorporated into every facet of an organization’s operations. It needs to be communicated in every team leadership meeting and in every employee’s job description. Management and supervisors should be required to ensure that 5S Implementation practices are being adhered to on a daily basis. It is also crucial to recognize employees for their efforts in maintaining the 5S Implementation practices.

5S Implementation is a crucial business house cleaning that really would be effective in the home setting. It is a process that needs to be implemented slowly and thoroughly. 5S Implementation can be very overwhelming, especially in larger organizations, so it may be wise to put it into practice one department at a time.  In addition, every department is different, so the implementation process will not be precisely the same across the entire organization.
5S Implementation is a crucial step in attaining a Lean Office. It may actually be a sound first step as a way to prepare the organization for the sweeping changes that are going to be made as the Lean Office methodology is applied to the corporation. Getting everyone on board, from top management down, is the key to success.

Peter Peterka is President of Lean Six Sigma  US. For additional information on Six Sigma Green Belt or other Six Sigma Black Belt programs contact Peter Peterka.

Author: Peter Peterka Google

Published 09/3/2008

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