The 6 S's of Lean

Whether you are in manufacturing or healthcare, efficiency and organization impact your business. Several months ago I mentioned the "lean" philosophy, which is based on the Toyota Production System.

Whether you are in manufacturing or healthcare, efficiency and organization impact your business. Several months ago I mentioned the “lean” philosophy, which is based on the Toyota Production System.

Lean is so vital in healthcare that I will periodically refer to it. Organization and standardized work procedures that simplify your work environment, reduce waste and add value are known as the 5 S’s. More recently, a 6th S was added.

The 6 S’s are:

  1. Sort is a means to organize what you have and eliminate what you don’t need.
  2. Straighten focuses on the storage methods. The goal is to place what you need to do your job in an easily accessible location.
  3. Shine suggests that you thoroughly clean the work area with daily follow up cleaning, leaving a clutter-free space.
  4. Standardize the “best practices” to ensure that the space is kept the same way in each location. Post your expectations on keeping the area clean and organized. Think of the fast food chains. You can walk into any McDonalds, Burger King, or Subway anywhere in the country and it looks and runs the same way. Their procedures are standardized.
  5. Sustain is of course the most difficult aspect to achieve. It is often difficult not to resort to the old way of doing something. Sustain simply means to keep maintaining the 6 S’s. Regular review of the area will insure that it is kept up to the standard set.
  6. Safety is the final and newest “S” which is to simply create a safe work environment that shows respect for the employees and patients.

The first 3 S’s are action, where the last 3 are sustaining or ongoing systems. First you set up the system, and then you look to maintain that system.

The goal is to create and maintain a clean, orderly, and safe work environment that allows anyone to come in and continue what is being done. Email me at donna@officemanagementsolution.com and share your experiences of keeping an orderly work environment. Also, e-mail me what is the most disorganized area in your office.