Father Sez

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Applying 5 S Methodology, the cornerstone of Japanese lean manufacturing strength in our daily lives – Part 4

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

Continuing our series on 5 S….. as consistent practice and application of the Japanese “5 S” Methodology helps to form a strong foundation for our journey into continuous incremental improvements in our workplace, homes and lives.  We have already covered:-


- SEITON  and


The fourth of the “5 S” is SEIKETSU or STANDARDIZE.

The word “standardize” has many meanings. I follow the version that refers to having standards for every process that we do in the office, home or for ourselves.

Examples may be that all supplier files are red. All keys are in duplicated in 3 sets, one for use by the person, 1 set with Administration Department, and the last set as a final back up with someone else. Uniforms are another form of standards. All dangerous liquids being marked with a standard logo that does not allow for any mistaking it for Sprite.   Color coding, etc.

Whilst this step does not allow for much improvisation or so called individualism, it allows for very easy understanding of work functions if people have to be shifted around or if people leave.

(Improvisation and improvement is more than adequately allowed for in other parts of Kaizen. Still for Kaizen to truly grow and flourish, all players should have their 5 S well mastered.)

Imagine an organization, much like the colonies of bees or ants. Each member knows exactly what to do, when and how. All according to the standards that exist for the colonies. And many are the praises of efficiency these colonies get.

In the home, this standardization can be extended to storage of items, (including filing of documentation), buying and storing of food stuff. Having standards will help us track down abnormalities in food packaging (stuff that the marketing guys do to “fool us”. Get Rich Slowly wrote an excellent post on this.) 

Perhaps some of the preachers of better living may say that variety is the spice of life. Thus looking down at process like SEIKETSU.  Take a different route to work everyday, try a different type of food, etc.  

I think there is a place in life for both of these kinds of thinking. Some processes which are repetitive in nature may flourish based on 5 S, whiles others may be better looked at from the variety point of view. 

We just have to make our individual choices.      

Applying 5 S Methodology, the cornerstone of Japanese lean manufacturing strength in our daily lives – Part 2

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008


What do you want your life to look like…organized or diorganized?

Picture Credits: Google Images 

Last week we talked about “SEIRI”, the 1st “S” of the 5S methodology that forms the cornerstone of Japanese manufacturing practices. 

Consistent practice and application of the 5 S Methodology helps to form a strong foundation for our journey into continuous incremental improvements in our workplace, homes and lives.  

Today let’s look at the 2nd “S”. 

As quoted from SiliconFarEast.com


Seiton, or orderliness, is all about efficiency.  This step consists of putting everything in an assigned place so that it can be accessed or retrieved quickly, as well as returned to that same place after use.  If everyone has quick access to an item or materials, work flow becomes efficient, and the worker becomes productive. 

The correct place, position, or holder for every tool, item, or material must be chosen carefully in relation to how the work will be performed and who will use them.  Every single item must be allocated its own place for safekeeping, and each location must be labeled for easy identification of what it’s for.  

All of us must have at one time another seen some workshop, where more time is spent in looking for tools or parts than actually doing the service.  Examples may be motor workshops with wrenches, pliers and screwdrivers strewn all over the workshop floor. The mechanic will be spending time looking for spanners and pliers amongst a disorganized pile of tools. 

Other examples may be we ourselves spending time looking for car keys, remote controls, the fever medicine that we are sure we have, etc. 

Time wasting and unproductive activities done only because we did not store or keep them in their assigned places.                        

It is clear SEITON has its place in our daily lives, in our workplaces and our homes. 

The more established blogs have written about the usefulness of organization in our lives. I don’t think I can do better, so I am providing the links. 

a) Clever Dude’s guest post on Five Cent Nickel on organizing one aspect, i.e. tax records, 

b) Get Rich Slowly talks about how keeping everything in its place helps in organizing our finances, 

c) Dumb Little Man’s excellent write up on the 7 secrets of the super organized and

d) The Simple Dollar’s take on the value of getting organized. 

Make an attempt to be organized.  

Keeping everything back in its rightful place after use is a step that we should practice as a matter of course.  

This is SEITON at its best.

Applying 5 S Methodology, the cornerstone of Japanese lean manufacturing strength in our daily lives – Part 1

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

An organaized work place - A Teppanyaki chef at work

Jeff at the Supercharged Life said it best….A better life requires continual commitment.  A commitment to relentless series of small and incremental improvements in all facets of our life. Occasionally we may hit a dramatic leap forward, but the cornerstone has to be our ability and commitment to improve slowly and steadily. 

Jeff also mentioned Kaizen, the Japanese art of continuous improvement. The Japanese, in their wisdom, have created a methodology which if learned and applied will help us achieve this continual improvement. The whole concept of Kaizen may be a little complicated, but there is one aspect of Japanese manufacturing methods which can be quite easily understood and applied.  

The 5 S Methodologies. This will help form a strong foundation for our journey into continuous incremental improvements in our workplace, homes and lives.  

SiliconFarEast.com, a comprehensive online resource for semiconductor manufacturing has this to say about 5 S. As their write up is simple and easily understood, I’ll quote them here. 


The 5S Process, or simply “5S”, is a structured program to systematically achieve total organization, cleanliness, and standardization in the workplace.  

A well-organized workplace results in a safer, more efficient, and more productive operation.  It boosts the morale of the workers, promoting a sense of pride in their work and ownership of their responsibilities.      

“5S” stands for five (5) Japanese words that start with the letter ‘S’: Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu, and Shitsuke.   


The first step of the “5S” process, Seiri, refers to the act of throwing away all unwanted, unnecessary, and unrelated materials in the workplace.  People involved in Seiri must not feel sorry about having to throw away things. The idea is to ensure that everything left in the workplace is related to work. Even the number of necessary items in the workplace must be kept to its absolute minimum.

Because of Seiri, simplification of tasks, effective use of space, and careful purchase of items follow.                                                                                                                                                                                                          Unquote  

This is the process of no mercy decluttering. Anything that is not needed is kept or thrown away. This frees the worker from having to spend time on unnecessary actions or steps in sieving through tools etc. to find the one needed.  


Can this workplace be more organized. Perhaps, perhaps not. 

This process can be done for the home or on ourselves. Much has been written about the advantages of decluttering our homes. Blog posts with tips on decluttering as well as the joys of a decluttered environment are many. You can have a look at:- 

- The Closet Entrepreneur’s 4 part series on this. (Some of the parts are still on the way.) 

- Tipnut’s 10 tips on mastering a messy home. 

Blunt Money’s one in – three out theory that works for him. 

- Clutter is alleged to breed negativity and low self esteem. 

On a personal level, we can also practice SEIRI. 

 I am sure; we have seen people or even personally experienced looking for something or another by checking each of the 20 or so pockets all over our pants and shirts. Not only is this time wasting but irritates the people who are all standing in line behind us. For example at immigration or ticketing counters. It’s all a function of having too many pockets.  

I cringe when I see people carrying 2 cell phones and answering the wrong one. Or too many credit cards, or too many store cards or handbags full of all kind of things including forks and spoons. Or two handbags!  

There are also many blog posts on how decluttering can help us at the personal level.  

- Read how decluttering even helps in promoting our career. 

In following posts, we shall look at the remaining four of the five “S”.

Though I have yet to sit down and formally talk about 5 S to my children, I have yelled 5 S, 5 S often enough while they are looking for something or another. My kids already know that 5 S is some system or method. I now have to take steps to make this a formal internal system in our household.    

Images Credit: From Google

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