With spring on its way its way, many of us start thinking about “spring cleaning” around the house.  Why not take that concept and turn it on your work environment this year?  One of the easiest ways to improve the performance of your office or company no matter the size,  is to apply basic “5S” methodology.

       5S is a Japanese system that became popular in the 70s when Toyota brought its products to the US and needed to tighten up its game.  The five S words making up the “5S” can be easily  translated into corresponding English counterparts as shown below:

  • Seiri / Sort – Sorting out only the materials that are needed for each task.  Get rid of the rest!
  • Seiton / Straighten – Create an organized workplace where everything is accessible.
  • Seiso / Shine – A vigilant effort to keep your workplace clean for functionality.
  • Seiketsu / Standardize – Align similar tasks and create assignments that are uniform.
  • Shitsuke / Sustain – The key to making this system profitable:  Maintaining the organizational work flow that you just finished overhauling.

       By implementing these concepts, you will be amazed at the reduction in errors and stress while speed is improved within your organization.  Although the first four are the “work” to be done, the most overlooked is “Sustain”.  Most people make adjustments in their life only when things go wrong.  “I can’t get enough done”  or “I can’t find such and such item” pop up a few too many times and we realize that something needs to change.  This situation could have been avoided if you sustained an organized process to start with.

       More often than not, when confronted with the question:  “why didn’t you just keep up with the cleaning or straightening?” we get a rebuttal that includes “I didn’t have enough time”.  Drop-kick  this phrase  out of your dialog in 2012!  A good analogy that I like to use compares process maintenance to lawn mowing.  Since you are now thinking about spring, will you wait until July before you cut your lawn?  No.  Even if you are really busy?  Probably not.  You’ll cut it weekly or even more frequent so that it doesn’t get out of hand.  None of us want a wheat field behind of our house (unless we live in Iowa) and none of us want to work in an unorganized environment.  So get out there and cut your lawn!