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04 July 2007

Getting Things Done with 5S Philosophy

Based on Japanese words that begin with ‘S’, the 5S Philosophy focuses on effective work place organization and standardized work procedures. 5S simplifies your work environment, reduces waste and non-value activity while improving quality efficiency and safety. In this type of thinking, the Japanese revert to the cultural heritage of a community approach. The team is key rather than the individual. This is a direct reversal of Western thinking where the individual must be recognized even in a team setting.

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 (Sort): 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 (Straighten): 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 (Shine): 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 on occasional activity initiated when things get too messy.
  • Seiketsu (Systemize): 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 (Sustain): 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.

5S Freebies: Posters/Wallpapers

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