7 Steps to Workplace Organization – Getting Started with 5S

John and his production team are coming off an embarrassingly poor change over. The team was unable to find some of the change parts for their filler. This delayed the next production run and resulted in late shipments to critical customers. They all see the need to implement this 5S everyone has been talking about.

5S is named for its 5 steps: Sort, Set, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain and is more than window dressing. 5S will bring several benefits to John’s plant and your workplace. While there are five S’s and five steps perceived by the operator on the production floor, there are 7 Steps to 5S implementation. Today, we are looking at the first step:

Step 1: Promotion & Implementation Plan

The Promotion and Implementation Plan is critical to the success of 5S in John’s plant and in your workplace. It should include the following 8 components:

1. The 5S Steering Team. This team should be cross functional and include your Continuous Improvement Leader and floor operators. This team needs to be able to make decisions quickly to keep the 5S effort moving forward. This team should make quick decisions on color coding, forms, etc. This team should be different from your Site Steering Committee. The 5S Steering Team should include at least one member of the Site Steering Committee. This team could also become your Autonomous Maintenance Pillar Team if you are preparing to launch TPM.

2. Site Steering Committee. Your Plant or Work Site should already have a Steering committee, Leadership Team, or Staff that is already guiding the plant. This leadership team will need to allocate resources and provide support to the 5S Steering Team and the 5S Pilot Team.

3. Pilot Line or Pilot Area. Pick a line or location where you have a big opportunity and can get some early and quick victories. Those early victories will be great motivation and promotion for your 5S initiative. Assign a Zone Team Leader and members to the 5S Pilot Team.

4. Zone Maps to include the owner of each zone. Each zone will need to have a team assigned to that zone as you expand 5S.

5. 5S Training. Be ready to do a lot of training on 5S. You need to train everyone at your site about the basics of 5S. Site wide training will start to build the anticipation and desire for 5S. Train all of the Zone Team Leaders in the most detail so they are prepared to lead their teams. Train your Pilot Team as they get ready to start 5S. The training is best if it is Just-In-Time. It is also best if much of it is conducted on the floor. I would suggest that no more than 25% be in the classroom. It’s also best to keep the training sessions small. Big groups won’t ask as many questions.

6. Implementation Plan. Develop the plan and get buy in from the key players of the Site Steering Committee. Resources will be needed from all departments if you are to launch 5S throughout your plant or workplace. Be sure to define the scope of your 5S initiative. I recommend that you do not include the production line equipment (fillers, labelers, palletizers, and such) in food processing plant or other manufacturing plants if you will be embarking on TPM soon.

7. 5S Objectives. Set goals for the implementation of 5S. How many teams do you want to have in place and in what stage of 5S by when? You should also set goals for Safety, improved change over time, reduction of work-in-process (WIP). You should also find a way to measure morale and set a goal for improved moral as part of the 5S effort.

8. Promotion Plan. Communicate the basics and the benefits to 5S throughout. Bring some positive excitement to it early. Instill enough knowledge that people will be excited by the progress of your pilot team. This will build a desire for 5S expansion.

Take the time to do your early planning right. Don’t plan to the point of needlessly delaying the launch. You will be modifying your plan as you go anyway. Reserve the right to learn and improve as you go.

John’s team is selected as the pilot line and John is the 5S Champion for his plant. He has an implementation plan that is ready to go. He has had a 5S Orientation with the entire plant with the support of his Site Steering Committee. In fact, John is well on the way to improved housekeeping and organization. His team is excited that they are addressing the root cause of their recent poor change over. They are ready to roll out 5S and have just one more thing to do. John is ready for Step 2 in the implementation process and scheduled the Initial 5S Audit for first thing tomorrow morning. See you there!


See 5 Reasons for 5S or all 7 Steps to 5S.

Please leave a comment below if you liked this article. You can also connect on LinkedIn, follow me on Twitter, subscribe via e-mail (right side bar), retweet, digg, or stumble this article (also right sidebar). Your feedback is appreciated.

About Christian Paulsen

Christian Paulsen is an Executive Consultant with 20 years of Lean Manufacturing. Chris adds value to organizations by driving process improvement and bottom line savings. Chris intends to help others by sharing the lessons learned after a quarter century of operational leadership, marriage, parenting, and even longer as a Cubs fan. Your comments on this blog are welcome. You can also connect with Chris via LinnkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook in the right sidebar. Chris welcomes your comments. Christian's professional services are available by contacting him through LinkedIn (right side bar)
This entry was posted in 5S, Lean Manufacturing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to 7 Steps to Workplace Organization – Getting Started with 5S

  1. Ravi Ahuja says:

    Thank you for a great post.

  2. Bree Morsell says:

    Fantastic blog! I actually love how it is easy on my eyes as well as the information are well written. I am wondering how I can be notified whenever a new post has been made. I have subscribed to your rss feed which should do the trick! Have a nice day!

    • Bree,

      Thank you for the feedback and for subscribing. You can sign up for an e-mail subscription for notifications. There is a “sign me up” icon about half way down in the right side bar. Thanks again.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s