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Workplace management through 5S

The origin of 5S

5S was developed in Japan and was identified as one of the techniques that enabled Just in Time manufacturing.

Two major frameworks for understanding and applying 5S to business environments have arisen, one proposed by Osada, the other by Hirano. Hirano provided a structure for improvement programs with a series of identifiable steps, each building on its predecessor. As noted by John Bicheno Toyota’s adoption of the Hirano approach, is ‘4S’, with Seiton and Seiso combined. (Source: Wikipedia)

What is 5S?

5S is a method or a tool that helps to systematically achieve organization, cleanliness, and standardization in the workplace environment. A well-organized workplace results in a safer, more efficient, and more productive operation.  It helps to boosts the morale of the employees and promoting a sense of pride in their work & ownership of their responsibilities.


SEIRI – Sort Out

  • Separation of all items including the necessary and unnecessary:
  • Completely clear cupboards, cabinets, tables and racks
  • You sort through all items
  • All items that are not scrap need to be compiled at a designated location
    immediately prior to removal of unnecessary items
  • Designate a red tag location for items awaiting disposition
  • Carrying out basic cleaning and making issues more recognizable
  • Visualize measures critical to the specific area


SEITON – Straighten

  • Organize the necessary items at the correct place for the Creation of an
  • Optimal and effective environment.
  • Definition of a location and address for every item
  • Label all locations (Size and name)
  • Define the quantity for materials and commodities
  • Construct tool, cleaning, and assembly part boards
  • Define the status of an area/process with visual management for example photographs, traffic light systems, and symbols

Put in order so that they are ready when needed


Some symptoms of absence of Seiton in Offices

  • Only the Storekeeper/ Helper Knows where certain materials & parts are kept.
  • No one can find the key to the locked cabinet containing needed documents.
  • Brooms are found leaning against tables, walls & Pillars.
  • Some document files have no identification labels.
  • The Statutory Inspector is here. Nobody can find the required register.
  • He had to get his nose plastered because someone opened a door hastily when he was approaching it.
  • There is hardly any difference in the way thingsare stored in his desk drawers and his dust-bin.
  • His desk-drawers when emptied were found crammed full of enough pencils, erasers, markers to lasthis whole department for 3 months.
  • Ever since he entered the Toilet, he is searching for a soap towash his hands.
  • The boss wants a report; only the PAknows where it is. Let us make a call and ask him.



How to store?

1. Clearly Separate     ——-  Ready Access-Storage &  Remote-Storage Sites.

2. Clearly Label           ——-  All Storages & Documents

3. Determine               ——-  Storage Periods in advance

4. Put Labels on          ——-  All Storage Containers

5. Describe                  ——- Contents, Storage Period & Person in Charge

6. Establish & Enforce —— Clear Rules for Remote Storage 


  • Ready access storage
  • Remote storage


  • Folder
  • Binder


  • Region
  • Subject
  • Alphabetically
  • Code



Storage rules for Seiton

  • Point of Storage should be near to Point of Use.
  •  Storage should be in the sequence of operation.
  •  Returning back the things should be so easy thatwe can put it without even looking.
  •  Returning back the things should be so easy thatwe can put it without even thinking.

Keys to success


KEY 2   :  MAKE THINGS EASIER TO GET FOR USE (Routinely needed materials within easy reach)




Ten Golden rules of Storage

  1. Air free storage
  2. Climb Free
  3. Bend free
  4. Count free
  5. Search free
  6. FIFO
  7. Heavy material at ground
  8. Fast consumables near entrance
  9. Adequate lighting
  10. Adequate ventilation

SEISO – Scrub

  • Materials, machines and the environment are clean and ready.
  • Cleaning supplies are available
  • The employee knows when and how something is cleaned
  • The areas to be cleaned and all needed supplies are defined
  • Single checks are carried out
  • Cleaning standards and check lists exist and are visible
  • During the cleaning issues are recognized, marked and worked off continuously and immediately.


What to do?

  • Quick 5 S drills
  • Individual responsibility
  • Make cleaning and inspection easier
  • Sparkling clean campaign
  • Everybody is a janitor
  • Perform cleaning inspections and correct minor problems
  • Clean even the places most people do not notice
  • Eliminating trash, filth and foreign matter for a cleaner workplace
  • Cleaning as a form of inspection
  • Aims:
    • A degree of cleanliness commensurate with your needs
    • Achieving zero grime and zero dirt
    • Understanding that cleaning is inspecting


SEIKETSU -Standardization

Maintaining a spotless workplace

The workplace can be kept clean and tidy ifeveryone puts in a little effort.The secret is in remembering three NOprinciples:

– NO unnecessary items
– NO mess
– NO dirt

To be able to do routine / repetitivework in the best known way.
To ensure that quantity & quality ofwork is consistent.
To provide a basis for improvement.
To provide a basis for daily management/supervision.
To provide a basis for training newemployees.

What is to be standardized?

Workstation layout, work area layouts
Work in Process (WIP)
Sequence of work
Cycle time of work
Material and tools used
Machines and their process parameters
Quality parameters, methods of measurement, reactionand reporting method
What, Where, When, Who & How of work

Characteristics of Good standards

Should only have one at a time
Assures quality, cost, delivery &safety.
Shows relationship between causes& effect
Easy to follow

When preparing Standards…It is important to ensure:

That the work procedures are appropriate
That the standards are expressed in specific, concrete terms
That the priorities are clear
That the standards are easily understood andmake plentiful use of diagrams and charts.

Standardization checkpoints

Is the standardization system company-wide?
Is the setting, revision, and abolition ofstandards encouraged?
Have official procedures been laid down forsetting, revising, and abolishing standards?
Is accumulation of technology promoted?
Are standards being utilized?
Are standards up to-date and capable of beingput into practice

SHITSUKE – Sustain/Self Discipline

How to respond to criticism?

The best way to improve is to take seriously the criticisms directed at you.


Response to criticism is also based on 4W and 1H


The leader is a model for the team

Workers at the workplace can learn a lot from the dynamic interchange between people who know that constructive criticism is important for learning.


  1. The head of the department and the head of a section are both company leaders, but the group leader is a person who has the most effect on the actual place.
  2. People who are serious about their work should be able to give and accept criticism
  3. If discipline is clearly lacking in the workplace, bosses should give constructive criticism to group leaders rather than the individual workers.
  4. The group leader is the person responsible for creating the general character of the workplace.
  5. The group leader’s commitment will have a positive effect on the workers….


Benefits of 5S

The major benefit of 5S is the increase in productivity resulting from the elimination of time waste when tracking down or accessing process materials and data.

As a consequence, the 5S approach leads to improved services, employee satisfaction, cost reduction and a better use of materials.

5S is suitable for any workplace, whether a physical or computer environment, from small areas such as desks and personal computers to larger areas such as open spaces or the company’s server. In any case, the procedures for workplace management develop according to a similar sequence.



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Kaizen Story: The obstacle in our path

In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock.


Some of the king’s wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the King for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way. Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been.


 The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the King indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The peasant learned what many of us never understand!


Moral of the story:

Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition!

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Ways to make TIERED meetings effective

Daily Tiered meetings are an integral element of Daily Work Management. To sustain a Lean culture in an organization, DWM is a must and Tiered meetings are an essential part of it. These short stand-up meetings which do not last more than 10 minutes on the Gemba, also pave daily accountability for Gemba owners in the processes. When this tiered meetings and Daily accountability process combine with 4M Standardization, Visual Controls & Leader Standard Work, it provides a strong foundation for creating a Sustenance culture. This will facilitate easy transition to practicing Daily Kaizen.


 However, the stark reality is these tiered meetings are not effective enough. The effectiveness of tiered meeting is largely driven by the leader. When we say, tiered meetings, we mean meetings at multiple levels of hierarchy or leadership. As we are aware, Tier 1 is usually comprised of direct workers & supervisors (or team leaders). In Tier 2, it’s the Value Stream Leader who leads the meeting with supervisors & support functionaries. In this level, we will be covering broader aspects. In Tier 3, we have the Plant Head leading the meeting attended by Value stream leaders. Here again, the focus will be much wider

One is unaware on how to start or from where to start. Always initiate by briefing what went good (no need to brag) & highlight what went wrong. Any visual that lacks the desired condition & actual condition is only a display. If we were able to make out the abnormalities or gap in the conditions, then it is Visual Control. If we are able to make a judgement out of the display, then it is termed Visual Management.  The very purpose of tiered meetings is to monitor the process performance metrics on a board – Visual Management. We are not about to have a visual display. When this visual board is supplemented with a daily task accountability board, it becomes effective.

Let us see how we can make the tiered meetings more effective. Kaizen is all about culture and culture is a collective habit of a team. Our habits drive our behaviour. So, the leaders who conduct tiered meetings have to develop certain behaviour in order to make the meetings more effective.

Standard work: Without standardization& self-discipline, no continuous improvement will survive. Hence, tiered meetings too should have their own standard. Standards in terms of time, duration, frequency, agenda & required visual boards should be prepared. None is allowed to violate or deviate from the standards unless they are modified & recorded. Identify what to measure. Discuss only those issues where the gap between desired condition & target condition is high.

Discipline is very important. Be punctual to the meeting and once the time (duration) is over, the meeting should be terminated even if you are in middle of a discussion.


Story telling: In Kaizen, we always say, “let the charts speak not the people!” Just like a comic strip, we need to have visuals that speak for themselves. Hence, there is no need to elaborate the obvious. This is excess processing. A good visual performance metrics makes it clear of the desired level, actual status, and the trends and whether we are in the right track or not. However, the leader’s job is to put together all these metrics, say result indicators, process indicators & sub-process indicators. More focus should be given to the process indicators as a process well did ensure good results. At times, the leader may have to go beyond the metrics on the board as to drive lean thinking among the team members.


 Lock it:We cannot afford to discuss the same issue again & again, day after day. This is MUDA. We have to eliminate the problems from its root so that recurrence does not occur. Defining the problem in the right perspective is essential. Defining the problem in the right spirit solves half of the problem. Then, root cause analysis. Identifying the root causes, listing out the counter measures, validating the counter measures, assigning the implementation, implementing validated counter measure, reviewing & evaluating the consequences of implementation completes the entire cycle of PDCA. If the benefits are not upto the expected level, restart from the planning phase.

If the benefits are as per estimated levels, standardize the process – initiate the SDCA cycle. The leader must ensure that the problems are solved and locked forever. This might require a separate kaizen activity or this can become a Kaizen project.

The team leader should engage as many people as possible in this problem solving exercise as to develop more problem solvers. Engaging people in the meeting is too important. Another way of building leaders is to take a turn for leadership. Thus everyone becomes a leader and the behaviour gets built in.

Tier meeting participants need to keep their eyes open as to see Waste and flex their problem-solving muscles. The meeting is an opportunity for the team to reflect on the past day, anticipate the next day and discuss issues, problems and opportunities. One cannot enforce these behaviors but can be induced. This is the responsibility of the Leader. By doing so, the tiered meetings can be made more effective.


N Gopalakrishnan

Value Stream Leader

Education & Training Vertical

KAIZEN Institute India

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Is it 7 or 8 or 9??

TPS specifies 7 types of Muda (Waste). Reference:Ohno’soriginal bible ‘Toyota Production System’ -pages 19, 20. The Japanese version was published in 1978 & the English translation in 1988.

Somewhere down the line people started talking about the 8th waste – that of under-utilized or un-utilized human potential. One wonders about the origin of this 8th?

ImageAs early as 1984, the Japanese version of Canon Production System (the English version was published in 1987) talked of ‘9 types of wastes hidden in everyday operations’. Their 9 wastes were (pages 17, 18 of the English version):

  1. Waste caused by work-in-process
  2. Waste caused by defects
  3. Waste in equipment
  4. Waste in expenses
  5. Waste in indirect labour
  6. Waste in planning
  7. Waste in human resources
  8. Waste in operations
  9. Waste in startup

They were categorized under

Products: 3 wastes [Quality – defects; Cost – planning; Delivery Time – work-in-process] 

Resources: 5 wastes [people – operations, indirect labor, human resources;equipment; money – expenses] 

Startups: 1 waste

Although this seems to be the very first version of where ‘human resources’ is mentioned as a waste; the context seems to differ from TPS’s 7 wastes. When & how this waste got added to the TPS7 is not clear. 

Why did the TPS7 became the more popular version;& not the CPS9? May be just because Toyota was the origin!!

There is no doubt that being finicky about number of wastes could itself be termed as a muda (non value-adding) or waste! As long as we understand the essence of waste, and are able to identify-reduce all kind of wastes; and identify-eliminate some kinds of wastes, we are on the right track!

However, I feel that there was a corollary, perhaps an un-intended consequence of not listing out a specific waste – the 8th one, so explicitly! The entire body-of-knowledge around ‘Lean’ seemed to revolve around finding countermeasures for the TPS7! Not much literature was available to counter the 8th one! After so many years of ‘tool based Lean’, only in recent years attention has started getting to the 8th waste – TWI (the 3 J programs), A3s, Toyota Kata etc. are addressing it.

The above recognition has triggered the theme of IndiZen2014, the 5th National Convention on Operational Excellence planned at Hotel Hyatt, Pune on Feb 11 & 12. This year’s theme is ‘Employee Excellence for Operational Excellence’.The TWI Guru, Donald Dinero from the US will be a keynote speaker. He has authored two books

  1. Training Within Industry – the Foundation of Lean (Winner of the Shingo Award)
  2. TWI Case Studies – Standard Work, Continuous Improvement & Teamwork (Interestingly, this book contains some of our own case studies from India & Africa!)

We invite readers to mark their calendars & register themselves quickly for this remarkable event & draw inspiration from professionals& fellow practitioners who are expected to throng the event in large numbers.

We, the Kaizen Institute team, look forward to seeing you in Pune.

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Kaizen Story: How can we change a system that’s so rigid and entrenched?


I‟ve been asked countless times by Lean change leaders, “How can we change a system that‟s so


rigid and entrenched?” Here‟s an allegorical and hopefully not too arcane answer that occurred  to me recently:

An early wintery storm caught us by surprise this year. I had just mowed the lawn days earlier, and most trees had not even shed their fall colors. October snows usually melt on contact with still-warm surfaces, we thought, and by sundown on Saturday, flurries left only a light coating on leaves and lawn. There were warnings on the evening news, but no sense of impending doom at our house. The maple, oak and pine trees that ringed our yard were decades old, and had withstood pounding winter nor‟easter winds many times before. And there was not even muchwind with this October storm, just snowflakes. So we retired for the evening.

Several hours passed. We slept as snowflakes quietly accumulated, and deepened on the leaves and branches of our sturdy trees. At 3:00 a.m., we were awakened by a low cracking noise. In an instant, whoosh, a large oak limb fell from a height of 30 feet to our backyard deck. We heard the thud as it struck the deck but could hardly see where it landed. By this time the silent snowfall had gathered momentum. More snowflakes, more often. Each flake dropped straight down on this windless night, and lighted on another, the snow relentlessly weighing down the sturdy trees.

Soon after the first downed limb, another thud followed, this time in the front yard. The top of an oak tree had split and tumbled onto some white pines, which softened the blow, but also altered our view to the street as branches were lopped off. The intensity of the snowfall was increasing, and it was hard to see the yard even with a spotlight shining on the front driveway. What we could see, however, was a large Norway maple tree teetering precariously over our driveway. The top of the tree was tilted like the Tower of Pisa by the time we saw it, and seconds later its trunk snapped at a height of about six feet, dropping it across our driveway. I thought to myself, “I‟d  been planning to remove that tree anyway.”

Now there were limbs cracking and trees tumbling together in several different places, as if a tipping point had been exceeded. One by one the snowflakes had landed, none by themselves having a perceptible impact But together, they were changing the landscape. How do you change a system that’s so rigid and entrenched? We may think it will take an avalanche, but really what’s needed is a gradual accumulation of snowflakes.

Acknowledgement: Courtesy of “Old Lean Dude” http://www.oldleandude.com

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Learn to attack the 8th Muda!

The ‘Operational Excellence’ space has been dominated for years by methods inspired by TPS (Toyota Production System) – now called ‘The Toyota Way’ – along with a few other practices. Lean was an adaption – focusing on reduction/ elimination of 7 classical wastes (Muda) of TPS. The 8th muda (that of utilized/ underutilized human capabilities) got added to the list later. However, literature provides very little help in methods of addressing this muda.

Assess your organization’s OE maturity level! 

We often wonder where do we stand in our journey of excellence. Some MNCs have developed assessment tools to compare progress against time & to compare plants with each other. We shall use a common assessment tool to permit participant companies to conduct a self-assessment in order to get a feel of where they stand w.r.t. World Class benchmarks; & to find opportunities for improvement. 


IndiZEN 2014 – the 5th National Convention on Operational Excellence will give you an opportunity to get the answer of all such questions. It is going to be held on 11 – 12th February 2014 at Hotel Hyatt, Pune, India. This event will also give you an opportunity to learn some of the effective practices applicable in the Indian environment – learn about Kaizen Kata & Coaching Kata; TWI (Training Within Industry – JI, JM & JR modules) & Kaizen Teian.

IndiZEN has become one of India’s significant annual gatherings of practitioners, who come together to Learn, Network, Celebrate & Share the work done by their organisations in implementation of Kaizen/ Lean/ Operational Excellence in their respective workplaces.

This value packed event brings to you

  • Globally renowned opening & closing keynote speakers (Donald Dinero, the TWI guru from the US will be one)
  • Face to face Q&As with India’s leading Operational Excellence (OE) experts; 
  • Knowledge sessions (this years’ focus – People Development)
  • Excellence Inside Tours (visit to world class facilities/ factories since seeing is believing!); and the most awaited 
  • National Case Study Competition

It will provide you enough ammunition & inspiration to remain focused & energized for success in your pursuit of Operational Excellence at your workplace.

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Defining a process with SIPOC

A SIPOC Diagram is a visual representation of a high-level process map; including suppliers & inputs into the process and outputs & customers of the process. Visually communicates the scope of a project.

SIPOC is an acronym standing for

  1. S              =             Supplier(s)
  2. I               =             Input(s) & key requirements
  3. P             =             Process
  4. O             =             Output(s) & key requirements
  5. C             =             Customer(s)

How can SIPOC be used? 

SIPOC can be used to define the scope and boundaries of your project.  It helps communicate inside and outside an organization.If a project scope has already been defined, SIPOC can validate the accuracy of the scope.If you are following the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control) problem-solving methodology, SIPOC is introduced in the Define phase of the project 

A SIPOC helps teams verify that

  • inputs match outputs of upstream processes
  • outputs match inputs of downstream processes

To understand SIPOC break into small groups of 3-4 people.  Take 5-8 minutes and brainstorm how, when, and where SIPOC can be used in your organization.Have each group briefly report back on their discussion.SIPOC is a precursor to creating more detailed process maps and value-stream maps. 

How does a SIPOC works?

Key point on forming a team to develop a SIPOC Diagram:  Involve a cross-section of those who work with the process to create the diagram.  No single person will have all the process knowledge you need.


To construct a SIPOC diagram, begin with a high level process map, usually consisting of four to five steps. Then list outputs of the process, followed by the customers who receive the outputs. Then turn your attention to the front end of the SIPOC, with a listing of the inputs to the process and their suppliers.  (ASQ Certification Board Puts Quality Tools to Work.  Scott A Laman, Elizabeth Burns, Kathy L Lynn.  Quality Progress. Milwaukee: Mar 2007. Vol. 40, Iss. 3; pg. 54, 9 pgs)

Reminder: Be very clear about where the process starts and where the process ends.  This should align with and help define your project scope.Keep the process map to the highest level.  Don’t be tempted to dive too deeply into process steps at this point.  Keep it to 4-5 steps.The process you choose for your project may be a subset of a larger process or a standalone process.


Step 2: List all the outputs from the process


Step3: Identify the customers receiving the output


Step 4: List all the inputs into the process


Step 5: Identify the suppliers of the process inputs


SIPOC has three typical uses depending on the audience:

  • To give people who are unfamiliar with a process a high-level overview
  • To reacquaint people whose familiarity with a process has faded or become out-of-date due to process changes
  • To help people in defining a new process


                       Image Source: (Example)Wikipedia