In order to implement Kaizen in the workplace, many organizations start with the Lean 5S methodology (some have expanded it to 6S, which we’ll also talk about in this post briefly).  Kaizen is part of Lean Enterprise, and can easily be applied to the Lean Office, and 5S and the Visual Stream Map are some of the first tools we’ll need.  This post is focused only on 5S.

The origin of 5S is simple – all the words in Japanese (and translated into English) start with the letter “S”.

Lean 5S:

  1. Seiri                Sort
  2. Seiton             Straighten
  3. Seiso               Shine
  4. Seiketsu         Standardize
  5. Shitsuke         Sustain

There is actually a bit more to these simple words than initially meets the eye… let’s go into them in a bit more detail.


整理 (Eliminating anything that is unnecessary for the process to work properly.)

  • Remove unnecessary items, prevent future accumulation.
  • Remove all parts not in use.

(How many black pens, post-it notes, etc. do you have in your desk right now?  It applies to personal workspace as well as to a production floor)

  • Evaluate necessary items with regard to cost or other factors to determine if they stay, are kept close, or are stored further away.
  • Segregate unwanted material from the workplace.  (put it in a segregated area, file space, etc.)
  • Waste removal


整頓 Can also be translated as “set in order”, or “streamline”

  • Arrange all necessary items so they can be easily selected for use, making it easier to find needed items
  • Prevent loss and waste of time, ensure that work is handled on FIFO (First In, First Out) basis
  • Goal: make workflow smooth and easy
  • All above work should be done on regular basis


清掃 Can also be translated as “sweep”, “sanitize”, or “scrub”

  • Clean your workplace completely
  • Prevent equipment /machinery deterioration
  • Keep workplace safe and easy to work in
  • Keep work place clean and someplace you’d like to spend time in


規範 Standardize best practices for the work area

  • Maintain high standards and workplace organization at all times.
  • Maintain orderliness; everything in order and in its right place.
  • Every process has a standard to be achieved.


躾 can also translate to “do without being told”

  • Perform regular audits.
  • Training is goal oriented process. Its resulting feedback is necessary monthly.

and the bonus –

6S – Safety

Adding a safety review in ensures that no new hazards have been created by the 5S process – a key benefit to your organization!

5s 6s safety for lean 5S

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