Where is the Lean?

This came up in conversation today “Your site is called leanintodesign, where is the lean?”

So I thought I’d get started. In the same place most people/businesses start their lean journey, with 5S. This is quick fire so be ready to be wowed. 

I love 5S. Yes, I said it, I love 5S. Not doing it myself obviously, just look down the side of my bed and you’ll find chargers for products that went in the bin an age ago, that is not 5S. I love the idea of it. 

Just imagine that the thing you need most, at that exact moment, magically appeared in your hand. 5S done right can do that. It’s that powerful. 

5S is the name of an organisation method that uses a list of five Japanese words: seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu, and shitsuke. That’s great if you live in Japan, or if your one of the amazing people that took the time to learn this fantastic, ancient language. For a simple engineer from Burnley, I need it in plain English. A rough translation of these 5 points is sort, set, shine, standardize, and sustain.  

That’s easier now isn’t it?

It’s simple to get the methodology, 

  1. Sort your current pile of stuff  into separate piles. Need it, done it, bin it. 
  2. Set your stuff (that’s not now in the bin) into touch it daily, touch it weekly, touch it monthly, bin it. The more often you touch it the closer to you it should be. 
  3. Shine, this means clean up. It’s easier to find that dropped key on a clean floor than it is in that ball pool you call a living room. 
  4. Standardise what you do, there is one way to do a thing. If there is a better way, we all do it, then that is then our one way. 
  5. Sustain, all of the above needs to be second nature for everyone, without question. You can’t have a clean desk policy if your MD or CEO has piles of paperwork out all the time. Also how annoying is it to find a spoon in the knife area of your cutlery drawer.  (Grrrr, kids)

I’m not going to go in depth on this methodology in this post, I may focus on 5S in design in future posts but you can find mountains of resources on the Internet to help on your journey. Some are listed below. 

U.K. Kaizen
Or a simple google search for 5S methodology will bring lots of results up. 

Your parents have also been training you in 5S all your life, let me know if these quotes ring any bells. 

“When did you last wear this?”

“Tidy your room”

“It’s right where you left it”

“If you put it back where it came from it would be there”

“If your rooms not tidy all the time your grounded”

5S is a powerful tool in the lean arsenal, and in my opinion should be the second thing you do on your lean journey. The first being defining your future goals and collating your current state (one step not two)

On that note I’m off to bin some chargers.

If you have questions or comments please leave them below. I’m happy to help in anyway I can.

2 thoughts on “Where is the Lean?

Add yours

  1. Yes it’s now 6s at work it a cool thing to do but at home not sure that would be good , we will see when I start to clean the yard this spring.


    1. Hi Ron, thanks for commenting. Your probably already hitting 6s in lots of places at home without trying. The more you do it the better it gets. If I’m honest the safety aspect is such a big deal I keep it separate.

      Everybody that turns up for work should go home it’s just that simple, I’d always try not to hide the safety, bring it to the forefront and let the world know how important it is.

      This is just my opinion and 6s works at some places but safety, quality, delivery then cost are the order I focus on things. Always the safety front and centre.


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