in Books, Reading books in 2013

The 5S for the Office User’s Guide

The 5S for the Office User’s Guide by Don Tapping

If you can’t do 5S then forget all the rest!5s-office-guide

This book is great. It’s practical, it’s easy to read and it’s full of actionable advice. I can recommend it especially given the lack of good books in the service / office environment.

We did 5S quite regularly in our office even before I was a QM. It just felt freeing and people felt good after they threw out a few trash cans of old paper.

Lean eliminates waste or non value-added activities. Waste is defined through the eyes of the customer (i.e., client, patient, other process owner, etc.).

That’s one of the basic idea of lean. Erase non value-added activities. These are basically all activities “that customers are not willing to pay for”.

Non value-added activities are usually symptoms of a problem within a process.

The idea of creating value for the users ‘at all cost’ is pretty revolutionary and challenges the status-quo. You can defend something as ‘we always did it like that’ if the customer isn’t willing to pay for that. It’s a customer-driven environment and it’s cultural. Therefore it isn’t easy to do lean management well.

Now that we can think about customer value, we can think about waste which is everything that doesn’t add value. These are the different kinds of waste:

  • Unnecessary Services (or overproduction of those services)
  • Mistakes (or defects)
  • Delays
  • Unnecessary Motion
  • Overprocessing
  • Excess Inventory
  • Excess Transport
  • People Utilization

Most organizations find that 5% to 20% of the work or service provided is value-added.

If you start measuring processes you quickly learn how much time is actually spent on value-added activities. Here are some examples:

Examples: Excessive copies of emails, Duplicate reports, Ineffective meetings, Irrelevant data to customers.

Examples: Data entry error, Missing information, Wrong information, Scheduling issue, Customer returns.

Examples: Searching for data – electronic or paperbase, Ineffective email distribution lists, Scheduling issue.

Examples: Unnecessary data collection, Redundant paperwork, Ineffective meetings and reports.

Where do we start?

  1. How can we start to communicate about these wastes throughout the organization?
  2. What are some “low-hanging fruit?”
  3. What can be done immediately to improve a process and reduce costs with minimal cost to the organization?”

One of the most important success factors will be the commitment of the management. Without their commitment it won’t work. They will provide financial resources, time for training and participation, and consequence if the employees won’t go the new way.


There’s a lot written about 5S and I will just take quotes out of the book:

  • The essence of Sort is found in the saying, “When in doubt, move it out.”
  • The essence of Set-In-Order is found in the saying, “A place for everything and everything in its place.”
  • Shine involves cleaning everything, keeping everything clean, and using cleaning as a way to ensure that the areas are maintained as they should be.
  • Standardize involves creating guidelines for keeping the area organized, orderly, clean, and making the standards visual and obvious.
  • Sustain involves education and communication to ensure that everyone uses the applicable standards.

And that’s basically it. It’s easy but incredible powerful. And I agree with the leading quote. If you can’t do 5S don’t try to do more complicated QM.

I won’t go into the PM part of introducing 5S but it’s discussed in the book. Here are some of the tips for doing 5S.

Some tips

  • Create legends for labels that are in common areas.
  • Areas that are clean and well-lit allow for more satisfied customers as well as employees.
  • Participation in development of standards is the best training.
  • Locate visual controls at point-of use.
  • Perform management “walk-abouts.”

It boils down to: Make it easy and accessible.

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