A variety of proven tools are used when a business undergoes a Lean Transformation. These tools have been in use for decades, and that’s because they work. One tool that we use with our Lean Transformation clients is 5S, which takes a fundamental and pragmatic look at how a business organises its workspaces.
An organised workplace is a vital element of a productive and efficient work environment. That’s the goal of 5S, which can be used in all types of businesses. The reason it’s so successful is the systematic approach it takes to enhancing productivity, pride in product quality, workplace safety and reduction in waste.

Keeping workplaces clean and structured

It’s surprising how many workplaces were organised many years ago or before the implementation of new processes. We regularly find that some simple changes can dramatically enhance productivity. Implementing 5S is the perfect time to take a fresh look at workspaces and make the changes needed to support efficiency.

5S provides the structure and steps for workplace organisation, order and cleanliness. While it may seem like a complex tool, it’s really straightforward and easy to follow.

5S asks teams to organise their own workplaces in a clean, efficient and safe manner that supports the introduction of standardised working. As the name suggests, there are 5 components all starting with S.

Due to its origins, each word is Japanese but does have an English translation.

  1. Seiri or Sort
  2. Seiton or Straighten/Set
  3. Seiso or Shine
  4. Seiketsu or Standardise
  5. Shitsuke or Sustain


Over the coming weeks, we are going to explore these 5 key areas in an effort to understand how each is able to make such a significant impact on organisations of all sizes.