July 27, 2021

with the “5 S”, tidying up is now

TUp in the air, Pierre can’t get his hands on this super nice pair of shoes bought in 2014 and put on twice. As a child, he did not tidy up his room, and even yesterday, he could not find his bunch of keys and his voter card: all this would never have happened if Pierre had known about the “5S”.

The 5S are not a boy band straight out of the 1990s: on the contrary, it is a method that makes a clean sweep of the past. Five “S”, for five Japanese action verbs starting with this letter: this management technique aims to improve the workspace by organizing it rigorously. With better cleanliness and safety in the work environment, you feel better, and employees are more productive.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Office slang: the “kaizen” or the praise of regularity

As is often the case in Japan, the managerial concept came out of the Toyota factories of the 1960s. It is a derivative of “lean management” and “kaizen”, this managerial philosophy which aims for “continuous improvement”. Created in workshops, the 5S can also be used in offices.

Large sorting

In detail, the series of changes begins, precisely, with the “seiri” (in French, and to keep the “s”, we will say “delete”): it is a large sort, where we determine what ‘keep or throw away. Files that obstruct Patrick’s view and prevent him from catching more? We archive them. Multicolored reminders lying around on Sylvie’s table? We recycle them.

In the continuity, comes the “seiton” (“situate”): we place the working tools according to their frequency of use, in a logic of optimization of space and time. “Everything in its place, and a place for everything”, as the Scotsman Samuel Smiles (1812-1904) and a finance ministry official in The Spanish inn by Cédric Klapisch (2002). Are you left-handed? Your mug will be on the left of your computer, ready to be grabbed. The pens will be in the pot with a large “pen” label, just to remind you that it does not contain kitchen utensils.

In a factory workshop, the space will be organized so that the transport of heavy objects by hand is as short as possible. The spirit of “seiton” is that we know where each object of our daily lives is: some people would need it to find their glasses …

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