The 5 S Method: What is it and how can it help businesses?

The 5 S method (five S’s) is critical in the strategic planning of organizations since it is the basis for the implementation of total quality management, a must for companies that, in an increasingly competitive market, wish to survive and prosper.

And if you as a manager want your business to monitor the development of the economy and its businesses and always be strong, competitive and stand out from the competition, you need to know what the 5 S method is and add it to your management methodology as soon as possible.

Check out more about Total quality control

What exactly is the 5 S methodology?

The 5 S method refers to a series of techniques developed in Japan, originally used by housewives to keep all members of a family committed with zeal to the organization and management of the home. For this reason, it is also known as housekeeping.

The 5 S method is named according to the initial of each of the five Japanese techniques that constitute it. These techniques are based on concepts with goals that are interconnected with each other and form a cycle. They are:

  • Seiri (Utilization) – Separate the necessary from the unnecessary.
  • Seiton (Storage) – Put everything in its place.
  • Seiso (Cleaning) – Clean and care for the environment.
  • Seiketsu (Standardizing) – Create rules to maintain cleanliness and tidiness.
  • Shitsuke (Discipline) – Commit, by transforming rules into habits.

But how did a method initially used by Japanese housewives become so important to companies around the world?

The 5S method was essential to rebuild the Japanese economy after World War II

In the 60s, more than a decade after the end of World War II, Japan was in a period of reconstruction and facing a so-called ‘crisis of competitiveness’ on the global economy.

The industry went from bad to worse, and its leaders detected the need to redesign the entire production process from the ground up, with a focus on total quality.

With this new strategic plan in mind, the Japanese industrialists realized that the 5 S method would be perfect for the medium and long term and it could cause behavioral changes at all levels, from directors to factory workers.

Through the 5 S method, the factories were able to very quickly improve the organizational climate and bring back motivation to employees, with more quality of life came increased productivity and efficiency and made Japanese industries competitive on the global scene again, a critical factor to boost the country’s economy.

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The 5 S method applied in business management

With the success of the 5 S methodology in Japanese factories, it started to be used by companies in other sectors of the country and was later copied by organizations around the world who wanted to increase productivity, more efficient and effective processes, reduced costs and to make work environments more favorable, organized and enjoyable.

In business management, the concepts of the 5 S method may be understood as follows:

  • Seiri (Utilizing) – Take away anything that does not have utility.
  • Seiton (Storage) – Organize the work environment effectively.
  • Seiso (Cleaning) – Always maintain a clean work area.
  • Seiketsu (Standardizing) – Create an organizational manual with clear rules and behaviors to maintain and incorporate into the company’s culture.
  • Shitsuke (Discipline) – Every director, manager, and employee must get involved and help by encouraging continuous improvement.

Also, check out the Kaizen method of continuous process improvement


No matter the size of the company or its line of business, if it deploys the 5 S method of management, it will have great gains in quality, organization, and optimization.

Now that you know what the 5 S method is, also take a look at the concept of BPM. Alsounderstand how it connects to integrated management processes.

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    December 21, 2020 3:03 am



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