Archive for the ‘Lean Tips’ Category

Lean Tip of the Day – De-Clutter to Allow Orderly Flow

In Lean Methodology, eliminating waste through organizing your workplace (or home) is a key principle.  It allows work to flow by removing obstructions.  Another word for this is de-cluttering, and the primary lean technique for de-cluttering is called a 5S, which stands for Sort, Straighten, Scrub, Systemize and Sustain (or Standardize).  A 5S happens in 2 phases – the first is to get rid of the junk (in an orderly and complete fashion) and the second is to create a system where there is a place for everything and everything stays in its place.  The steps, simply defined, are as follows:

  1. Sort

Choose your place for the 5S and divide the items into 3 categories, stuff to keep, stuff to do something with and stuff to get rid of.  You can start small with just a drawer, a cabinet or a closet.  No need to do an entire room or building, but if you are trying to really visualize increased flow in an area this is a great way to set up for a clean start.  Start small to get used to the process.  Take everything out of the area you are working on and sort it in accordance with the above categories, keep items, what can be given away, sold or donated and what is going to trash.

2.  Straighten

Determine the place for everything and put it in its place.  Items that are used frequently should be easily available, and items that should be handy but not in the way.  Make it visual – use labels or other ways of making it clear what goes where.

3.  Scrub

Clean it.  Really really clean it.  Make your mother proud.

4.  Systemize

Create a system to maintain the area in this de-cluttered, clean and organized fashion.  Establish processes and schedules; even check lists, with assigned responsibility ensuring all of your sorting, straightening and scrubbing goes for naught.

5.  Sustain!

Ahhh – the most difficult of the S’s.  But do it!! – not only sustain the increased flow in the area you have de-cluttered, but also make the act of 5’sing a sustained process in your organization and part of a sustained continuous improvement mentality in your work place and life.

What is the point of this?  It is good to figure out what you have so that you don’t keep buying more .  Getting rid of things you no longer need creates space and allows you to function more efficiently.  Doing this could give you an opportunity to downsize your space, whether it is in your office (do you need all the storage) or at home (do you really need that extra bookshelf with all the knick-knacks and books you will never read again?).

So, what do you do with all the things you no longer have use for?  You could donate them, sell them on eBay or Craiglist, list them on Freecycle, give them away as gifts, or have a garage sale.

More on continuous improvement soon….