The 5 S’s of Kaizen for Team Success

October 15, 2013

Flora Baxter

Team Contributor

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In a follow up to last week’s post on Kaizen for team building, this week we’ll delve a little deeper into the philosophy.

This week’s tip for team success is to keep the workplace spick and span. Clear the clutter, clear the mind!

Last week I mentioned an example of a common issue in your typical office: paperwork build up. The solution is of course, to periodically purge those files. Here I’ll break down the 5S philosophy of Kaizen to show that this could be the very first step to “constant improvement” for your team.

Sorting: Do a sweep. Remove all things unnecessary. Do you seriously need 15 different pens and 3 tape dispensers?! Keep only things that are essential. This doesn’t mean get rid of any trace of yourself and personal belongings. Keep those pictures of your kids and your page-a-day Dilbert calendar, but just keep it simple. Many times we have to share a space with others and what is normal to you may be VERY distracting to others!

team success

Straightening: Arrange everything you use for your job in a way that flows. This will take some planning. For example, if you tend to staple and file a lot, keep your stapler and filing cabinet within arms reach. We are more likely to get things done when the process is simple!

Shine: This one is a basic principle we learned as kids. Clean up after yourself! When the day is done, make things tidy and ready for the next day (or user).

Standardize: Make it uniform. Define procedures clearly, and mark where things belong (if applicable). Have a place for everything. This is where you make the process a priority. It must be integrated as part of the workplace culture in order to stick. Add it to a schedule, keep team members accountable. Make it fun. My daughter gets awards from the Clean Desk Fairy at school. I’m sure she’ll make a visit to your office too! If that’s not your style, a simple group wide e-mail of recognition would do the trick.

Sustain: In this step you search for ways to promote your new systems, making direct connections between these procedures and the bottom line. Continually review procedures and ask for feedback from everyone. This step will ensure that processes remain relevant and efficient. It also helps employees feel more motivated to keep up with new procedures if they feel they are part of the solution.

clean desk

Do you use the 5S of Kaizen for your team? What do you do to ensure standardization and sustainability? We’d love to hear from you, please comment below!


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