It’s important to remember that 5S applies to anyone regardless of profession or industry. If applied properly, 5S will help you in many different aspects. A 5S action guide will help you track everything you plant to improve in your workplace. From beginning to end, this will help you stay on track with your plans and actions you have taken and ensure 5S success.

5S Action Steps

  1. Identify an area or location that you feel would benefit from 5S. It can be tempting to 5S an entire workplace all at once. Keep in mind that the broader your scope, the more overwhelming your 5S initiative will become. Implementing 5S a little at a time can actually be far more effective than taking on too much at once, Start small, find a manageable area to successfully implement 5S, and grow from there.
  2. Define the problem you’re trying to solve. You never want to implement 5S only for the sake of it. While you will likely get positive results, they may not immediately be recognized or appreciated, resulting in wasted effort. It’s always most effective to clearly articulate problems before attempting to apply solutions.Thus, before attempting to implement 5S, document the specific problems you’re looking to solve in writing. The more detailed you can be in documenting your problem(s), the better, but there’s no need to go overboard. To maintain focus and momentum, there’s no need to list every single problem. It’s perfectly acceptable to only write one or two primary problems you’re looking to overcome.For example, perhaps an average of 40 minutes a day is wasted in a work area locating necessary materials. Clearly, the area may be disorganized, and lack standards, but the excessive and erratic downtime is probably the bigger problem that we’d like to solve.
  3. Conduct a pre-5S audit. Once you’ve clearly identified an area that you would like to 5S, and documented the problem you’d like to solve, it’s time to conduct a pre-5S audit of the area.
    5S Audit Example

    5S Audit Example

  4. Take pre-improvement pictures. Though this sounds like an easy step, don’t skip this as it is actually important. After your audit, you will also take post-improvement pictures to visually document improvement.Make sure you have a decent camera and take pictures of the area. A phone camera may work just fine, as long as the pictures are clear. Make this realistic, a few shots will do. Also, note the angle from which you took your pictures. It may even help to put a marker on the floor where you are standing. This will help you later when you take your ‘after’ improvement pictures. Remember to include these pictures in your Action Guide
  5. Conduct 5S process. At this point, you’re now ready to carry out the 5S process in the following order…
    • Step 1. Sorting
    • Step 2. Straightening
    • Step 3. Sweeping
    • Step 4. Standardizing
    • Step 5. Sustaining the process

    If you’re working with a team of people, make sure they are across the 5S process. Take time to review with them and provide them with the necessary tools to understand and carry it out efficiently.

  6. Conduct 5S post-audit. After completing the 5S process, it’s time to do another audit. Take note of the improvements that have been made and document new standards. Also, note any additional improvements that can be made in the future.Once completed, you can now take post-improvement pictures. Ideally, try to stand at the same location and angle that you did when you took the ‘before’ improvement pictures. Again, remember to add this to your 5S Action Guide presentation.
  7. Summarize 5S Improvements. Just as you articulated your problem, now is time to articulate the results of your 5S event. You also want to state if you were successful at improving whatever it was you set out to do in the first place. This and the previous 6 steps should be clearly documented in a 5S presentation (e.g. a PowerPoint or word document). Think of 5S presentations as your 5S journal, for documenting your 5S journey, facilitating lean change, and ensuring 5S success.
  8. Share your results. While not absolutely necessary, it is strongly encouraged to share your 5S presentation with your leadership team and colleagues. This helps to reinforce the cultural change necessary to deliver the results that 5S facilitates. You can simply email your 5S presentation so that it’s more comprehensive.

Remember, all the learning, ideas, and best intentions in the world can’t overcome effects of inaction. Ultimately, taking action is of the utmost importance for 5S success.