With Summer in full swing, many of us start thinking about organizing our cluttered garages after years of neglect. Why not take that concept and turn it on to your working environment this year? One of the easiest ways to improve the performance of your office, manufacturing space, or even your work truck, no matter the size, is to apply the basic "5S" methodology.

5S is a Japanese system that became popular in the 70s when Toyota brought its products to the US and needed to tighten up its game. The five S words making up the "5S" can be easily translated into corresponding English counterparts as shown below:

Seiri / Sort – Sorting out only the materials that are needed for each task. Get rid of the rest!
Seiton / Straighten – Create an organized workplace where everything is accessible.
Seiso / Shine – A vigilant effort to keep your workplace clean for functionality.
Seiketsu / Standardize – Align similar tasks and create assignments that are uniform.
Shitsuke / Sustain – The key to making this system profitable: Maintaining the organizational workflow that you just finished overhauling.

By implementing these concepts, you will be amazed at the reduction in errors and stress while speed is improved within your organization. Although the first four are the "work" to be done, the most overlooked is "Sustain". Most people make adjustments in their life only when things go wrong. "I can't get enough done" or "I can't find such and such item" pops up a few too many times and we realize that something needs to change. This situation could have been avoided if you sustained an organized process to start with.

More often than not, when confronted with the question: "why didn't you just keep up with the cleaning or straightening?" we get a rebuttal that includes "I didn't have enough time". Drop-kick this phrase out of your dialog in 2021! A good analogy that I like to use compares process maintenance to lawn mowing. You didn't wait until July before you cut your lawn this season or your kid would have gotten lost in the weeds. Even if you are really busy in May and June would you have put it off? Probably not. You'll cut it weekly or even more frequently so that it doesn't get out of hand. None of us want a wheat field behind our house (unless we live in Iowa) and none of us want to work in an unorganized environment. So get out there and cut your lawn! Need help, let's talk about solutions to Optimize your Organization.