Sunday, April 01, 2007

Designers beware: 5 steps to productivity, the 5S.

How would you like to be more productive and have a better workplace? Would you believe me if I said that you can achieve that easily with little or no investment at all?

Would you be able to work here? Do you actually work in a place like this?

Would you like to live like this? Do you currently?

A few years ago, when I was part of the continuous improvement team of the company I worked for, I was entrusted with the task of implementing a certain methodology that promised to improve our productivity. So of course, I had to be the first to test it.

It changed me. I’ll never go back to the way I was before, immersed in clutter, with a feeling of not having any control over my stuff, my activities, my life! Being tired before even starting to work, just by glancing at my desk.

5S (Five eses, if you will) is a methodology that was developed by Japanese companies, mainly Toyota, to improve organization, order and cleanliness in work stations. It can be as extensive as you wish it to be, with thorough measurements of improvement in machinery performance in factory conditions, but as I’ll present in the upcoming posts, it can be applied to almost every aspect of life, yes, the design business included.

What can 5S do for you? Keep reading…

The name 5S responds to five Japanese words that describe each of the five steps:

1. Seiri (Select)
Identify and separate the necessary from the unnecessary items.

2. Seiton (Organize)
Everything has its place.

3. Seiso (Clean)
Identify and eliminate sources of dirt and clutter.

4. Seiketsu (Standardize)
Maintain the status of order and cleanliness achieved.

5. Shitsuke (Improve)
Make it a habit and reach new standards of order and cleanliness.

5S can be defined as an ideal state in which:

- Unnecessary materials or utensils have been eliminated.
- Everything has been identified and been assigned a place.
- Clutter has been eliminated.
- There are visual references to control the status of processes.
- All this is maintained and continuously improved.

By implementing 5S you will:

- Reduce errors.
- Reduce supplies inventory.
- Reduce unnecessary movement.
- Gain more space.
- Be proud of your work place.
- Easily recognize the status of things.
- Quickly find the utensils you need.
- Improve the image your customers have of you.
- Improve your team work and cooperation.
- Improve responsibility and commitment.

There are many resources on the web about this subject, covering all kinds of businesses and situations, big and small, where this methodology can be applied. I’ll be covering each of the steps in a design studio environment and how to implement them and measure the results.

Meet me here next time to cover step 1, Seiri, and learn how to get rid of most of your clutter and not feel guilty about it! :-)

All the best!

1 comment:

Angel said...

Muy buen posteo sobre 5S. Lo tomé como ejemplo para aplicar en la oficina.