Muda no nai gainen [The Lean Concept]

Another Sunday, welcome to your first Lean class. I am Sensei (Master) Oscar and I am a Lean Six Sigma white, green & black belt. So if anybody looks for your trouble, Run! In this post we will be talking about one of the fundamental Lean concepts called 5S (five-es) and how to apply it, not just to work but our every day life. At this point you might be wondering what Lean is so I’ll give you a summary and maybe make a whole post about it one day but let’s get started. Sound the gong!

The Lean concept stems from wanting to eliminate Muda (Waste) by optimizing processes and reducing cost while adding value. Basically we are trying to create a process that does not introduce any form of extra cost or waste. Six sigma on the other hand is about reducing variation (for another day). There are five different levels of certifications for lean six sigma, they are white, yellow, green, black and master black belts. That’s a brief summary. what is the 5S though?

The 5S is a lean concept that is used to create a workspace and workflow that is efficient and effective

5S relies on visual cues to enhance efficiency and increase productivity and above all… guess… eliminate Muda. The 5S are seiri, seiton, seisō, seiketsu, and shitsuke (Lean has it’s roots in the Japan manufacturing industry, not my fault 🙂 ) I enjoy writing it in Japanese because of the extra oomph… but the 5S actually are;

  • Sort (Seiri)
  • Straighten (Seiton)
  • Shine (Seisō)
  • Standardize (Seiketsu)
  • Sustain (Shitsuke)

Sort:- This is the first and to me is likely the most difficult. During the sort phase all items are reviewed, removing unnecessary ones and keeping the necessary ones. It could be a file or an item that we keep because it has a sentimental value but the truth is that it creates waste. It could even be our thoughts sometimes that need sorting. So, phase 1 Sort!

Straighten:-Once the excess is removed, you have to find a place for everything for easy location. These locations should be labeled if possible to encourage collaboration. If you have collaborative development experience you might have multiple team members working on the same project, they need to find resources they need at a glimpse and this reduces waste of time.

Shine:- Seiso means sweep or clean. Just try as much as possible to keep your workplace clean. My workplace is my mind, avoid negative thoughts as much as possible so Seiso! Clean.

Standardize:- At this phase, you try to establish a process that ensures the first three phases are always done properly. This phase is big on visual cues, always keep things where you can see them, be able to see everything. Personally, I call this the aerial view approach. Always have a clear picture of everything.

Sustain: In this phase you commit to the process. Shitsuke literally translates to discipline. In this phase you commit to the new process, if it involves routine updates, you make it happen. Sustain is the phase that holds it all together and if you slack you might ruin the whole work you have put in. That is why we start something and not continue. Go through all the phases then Sustain!

The Lean concepts are mostly applied to manufacturing but after hours in the temple it becomes a mindset. This makes you always study your process and seek improvement. Try applying the 5S this week, clear up your laptop, remove files you don’t need, delete those movies you kept since last year telling yourself you will watch them when you have the time. Create an environment for your brain to breathe.

Arigato! I hope you learned something, have a blessed week. 🙂 gotta run

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