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The Efficiency of Order: The 5S Methodology

I think anyone who knows me will tell you I am a pretty orderly person.  My wife may even go further.  The first thing I did when I moved into my first house was make a shadow board for frequently used household tools, and then mounted it on the under-stair cupboard door.  It’s now on a cupboard door in the utility room of our home.

Shadow Board

Some time ago, I wrote, in another place, about the Japanese methodology of 5S.  I then pretty much forgot about it until, last week, it returned to my consciousness.  I was working with a team of people in a big high tech manufacturing business, and someone in the room used the term.  I realised it was time to refresh my memory… and yours too, while I am at it.

Another Improvement Technique

Just like Six Sigma (which we covered extensively in March), 5S is an improvement methodology but this one really is Japanese and it trades obscuring jargon and complexity for gratifying simplicity.

Three Six Sigma Articles

  1. Belt up and Reduce Errors
  2. The DMAIC Solution Process
  3. Six Tools from Six Sigma

It gets its name from the English transliterations of the Japanese names for the five stages: seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu, and shitsuke.

Through the marvels of the breadth of the English language, however, it is possible to translate all five (near enough) into English words that still begin with S.  I wonder how many languages are rich enough to allow that…

1: Seiri – or Sorting
My shadow board would be no good in optimising a manufacturing process.  It contains everything I might need for a wide range of scenarios.  Step 1 involves reducing that to only things I will need for the scenarios that my workspace is designed for.

2: Seiton – or Set in order
A place for everything and everything in its place.  My shadow board does at least allow easy access so I know exactly where to find any tool I need – and where to replace it when I am done.

3: Seiso – or Shine-up
Keep your work space tidy, neat, clean.  An old habit of the Royal Navy, I believe from reading the Patrick O’Brian novels, is a fastidious (nay obsessive) concern to scrub and polish.

4: Seiketsu – or Standardise
Same task: same tool set: same layout.  Everything uniform and repeated to create total inter-operability.

5: Shitsuke – or Sustain
Get it good then keep it good.  Don’t back slide but embed good practices into daily routine

Wikipedia has more

The great organ of knowledge even suggests (without giving us their Japanese language equivalents) that we add:

  • Safety
  • Security
  • Satisfaction

And why not?  I bet Pocketblog readers can even think of more options.

So, here’s the deal

It really doesn’t get any simpler than this.  And simplicity is good, so I commend the principles to you.

Hey, there you go… I just did it: Number 9: Simplicity.

Oh how I love the English language.  More please…

I’d welcome ideas in the comments space below.

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One thought on “The Efficiency of Order: The 5S Methodology

  1. Reblogged this on tanyaisms and commented:
    Efficiency & Order the Japanese Way!

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