The 5 S’s

Posted on November 9, 2009 by


The waffle maker sits on the counter, and Katy doesn’t even like waffles. Flour dusts the counter and floors, and she can barely reach the brown sugar on the top shelf that she used almost everyday. Katy’s kitchen is a complete mess so she decides to apply the 5 S’s.

The 5 S’s method promotes a clean and organized area in the workplace. Needed items are found more easily and a safer environment is created. The 5 S’s are: Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain.

First Katy Sorts by taking away things that she does not need. She has mint julep glasses from a Kentucky Derby that she has never used and a deviled egg dish that she doesn’t use because she’s allergic to eggs. These and similarly unused items are packed into a box and stored in her attic. Next she Straightens by arranging things to be easily accessible. The flour she uses frequently was on a top shelf of the pantry whereas the cardamom she uses about once a year was conveniently on the counter. She changes the location of ingredients, appliances, tools, and dishes so that the items she uses most frequently are the most easily accessible. For the Shine step, she thoroughly cleans the kitchen including wiping down the refrigerator and cupboards. To Standardize, she maintains the first three steps. She does this with a little calendar magnet on her refrigerator on which she marks the days over the next year that she’ll Sort, Straighten, and Shine. She only Sorts four times a year. Some Shine tasks are done rarely, and others, like washing the counter, are done three times per day. The last step is Sustain, for which she remains dedicated to performing the tasks on her calendar to maintain a clean and organized kitchen.

Posted in: Six Sigma