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Don't Go Crazy with Your 5S

I often see people focusing on technical aspects of 5S, rather than the purpose of what 5S is all about. Remember, 5S is intended to create a more productive, effective workspace.

Some common errors include:

  • Defining a location for a fixed object. Some people like to outline everything, but I simply don’t see the need to run a piece of tape along the edge of a stationary machine just so it is labeled.
  • Labeling the obvious. No need to put a tag on an item stating what it is, unless there is a cause for confusion. Label the location, of course, but most people can correctly identify a stapler 8 out of 10 times.

Now what is this thing again?


Oh yeah. Now I remember.

  • Going overboard on red tagging. Clearing the unused items out of an area is good. Getting rid of necessary items is not. Use a red tag system to make sure spring cleaning doesn’t shut down a process.
  • Forgetting the human element. 5S should make things easier and better, not harder. Don’t forget that people have to live with the 5S decisions you make. Good 5S makes people WANT to follow it.

5S Taken WAY Too Far…

So, what examples have you seen of 5S taken a bit too far? I’d love to hear about extreme cases of 5S that you’ve seen in your Lean travels.

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