You've probably heard of Lean Manufacturing – a process improvement system at Toyota. Yvette Clay, Certified Professional Organizer at LivingOrder.com wrote this article and it was presented to me by Lorie Marrero former owner of LivingOrder and current creator of The Clutter Diet. I've had this article over a year – and the principles have staying power. I think you'll find value in it.
The other day I was discussing a friend's workplace with him – he is a machinist at Sanmina. They are required to follow the 5S (Lean Manufacturing) methodology in keeping their workspaces organized and clean. A lot of the information below is geared towards manufacturing environments, but the principals it may be used in almost any application. I found it to be very interesting!
5S is a reference to a list of five Japanese words which 'start' with S. This list is a mnemonic for a methodology that is often incorrectly characterized as "standardized cleanup", however it is much more than cleanup. 5S is a philosophy and a way of organizing and managing the workspace by eliminating waste.
What is 5S?
The key targets of 5S are workplace morale and efficiency. The assertion of 5S is that by assigning everything a location time is not wasted by looking for things. Additionally, it is quickly obvious when something is missing from its designated location. 5S advocates believe that the benefits of this methodology come from deciding what should be kept, where it should be kept, and how it should be stored. This decision making process should lead to a dialog which can build a clear understanding between employees of how work should be done. It also instills ownership of the process in each employee. As a result, it is often executed in tandem with standard work which standardizes the processes in which the items organized in 5S are used.
The 5S's are:
Seiri (整理): tidiness, organization. Refers to the practice of sorting through all the tools, materials, etc., in the work area and keeping only essential items. Everything else is stored or discarded. This leads to fewer hazards and less clutter to interfere with productive work.
Seiton (整頓): orderliness. Focuses on the need for an orderly workplace. "Orderly" in this sense means arranging the tools and equipment in an order that promotes work flow. Tools and equipment should be kept where they will be used, and the process should be ordered in a manner that eliminates extra motion.
Seiso (清掃): systemized cleanliness. Indicates the need to keep the workplace clean as well as neat. Cleaning in Japanese companies is a daily activity. At the end of each shift, the work area is cleaned up and everything is restored to its place. The key point is that maintaining cleanliness should be part of the daily work - not an occasional activity initiated when things get too messy.
Seiketsu (清潔): standards. This refers to standardized work practices. It refers to more than standardized cleanliness (otherwise this would mean essentially the same as "systemized cleanliness"). This means operating in a consistent and standardized fashion. Everyone knows exactly what his or her responsibilities are.
Shitsuke (躾): sustaining discipline. Refers to maintaining standards. Once the previous 4S's have been established they become the new way to operate. Maintain the focus on this new way of operating, and do not allow a gradual decline back to the old ways of operating.
We'll look into Lean for the Office more in coming months.