The most common 5S question has a less than desirable answer.

By June 20, 2015 No Comments

Lately, I’ve been thinking, probably too deeply, about this question we are frequently asked ;“What can we do to prepare for 5S?”.  This is not a question of preparing agendas or scheduling team members, but a request to get started, in a small way, before the clock starts ticking.  My first response is, “nothing”. Then, I take a step back and give ideas; buy cleaning supplies, find sanitation schedules, buy paint brushes and rollers, order coffee and crumb cake.  Generally, the questioner jots down the ideas, but we both know all of that stuff is easy and will be done within minutes.  They ask again, “anything else we can do?”.  Then the questioning begins on my part “What would you like to do? What is your goal for this 5S event? Are you concerned we won’t accomplish enough?”. This often leads us to a sincere and honest discussion about a 5S event; it’s not an event.


5S is a philosophy and 5S training events provide introductory guidance for the practice. We need to understand what goal we’re trying to achieve by taking time out of busy days to focus on 5S.  We start together on a 5S journey so we align and agree to the practice principles to be applied in the future.  The purpose of demonstrating 5S in an event is to train the team.  The practice of 5S beyond the event is the goal.  A visually impactful report out at the end of an event is nice, but a commitment to improve each day is so much more valuable.  There is no getting ahead because there is no end.  If we do our job well, in addition to a successful 5S event there will be laundry lists of ideas and action items to implement in due time and those ideas will continue to roll in each and every day.

Leave a Reply