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There are a few things to keep in mind when embarking on a 5S:

  • Include the people impacted so they have a say in the evenutual standardization and upkeep.
  • Focus on making it easy to maintain when designing the setup and maintainence plan.
  • Post photos of the “standard state” so it’s obvious when things are out of place.
  • Make it a competition across areas so there is some peer pressure.
  • Recognize people for maintaining a 5S work space (results of audits).
  • You can also do some before and after measures of time to search and other cycle time measures that will likely drop due to the 5S.

5S is simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. Good planning and followup are key.

Elisabeth Swan

Elisabeth is a Managing Partner at, the co-author of The Problem-Solver’s Toolkit and co-host of the Just-in-Time Cafe. For over 25 years, she's helped leading organizations like Amazon, Charles Schwab and Starwood Hotels & Resorts build problem-solving muscles with Lean Six Sigma to achieve their goals.