What do you believe is the most important criteria for a successful 5S program?

I have found that nothing is more important than corner office support. What are your thoughts? Do you have other criteria you think is just as important?

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Don't add too much of documentation and bring change slowly. have a long vision.

Take suggestions from the people who are working in the respective departments / Zones

Executive management commitment and involvement.

3 important things that come to mind...

It takes a 5-S event leader who creates buy-in and a focused plan w/ individual tasks, then

It takes operational managers who understand and continuously promote the 5-S improvements.

And, Time and follow- ups- it takes time for employees to see changes as improvements to their work lives and ultimately the customer experience...

While Operational Managers must promote 5S it's all about how they promote it.  I find an absolute key for them is to hold people accountable. Those people not only include staff members but also the line supervisors. The supervisors have to call people out (professionally of course) when they see broken 5S standards. For example, if a supervisor walks out on the floor and sees someone not put something where it belongs they cant simply walk by. They MUST approach that individual, point out the "non-compliance" and have them make it right. Once folks see that the supervisor/manager has bought in and will hold them accountable the program will sustain.

David, that is exactly right.

One of my locations which "doesn't get" 5-S improvements has an OM and RM right there on site who basically put a blind eye to so called messy/cluttered  "work in progress".

On the other hand one of the most improved branches has an OM that actually does a weekly 5-S walk through with action plans for the next week.



I believe above all that it is consistency that makes 5S successful, stay the course. I work at a million sq. ft. facility, three plants & we have done 5S for several years. We have definitely had our up and downs e.g. senior management changes etc. during this time some would not allow 5S audits or action performed. However, the sustaining work that we had previously done still remains intact. So, I have notice that overtime it became ingrained. One thing we also implemented in addition to monthly audits was a quarterly team leader report out.  Each team leader had two minutes to tell his current score and their path forward(sometimes it was embarrassing for them and other times it was glorious).  We also had them bring a team member with them for involvement. It really kept everyone in the loop.


Great response T M! I really like the idea of have the team leader provide a quarterly 2 minute brief. Curious, are any action items that surface during the brief reported on at the next quarterly review? In other words, are they held accountable?


Thanks for sharing


David Visco

5S Best Practices

Yes, they are held accountable to any action item, whether it be training, quick reference audits, sort, set etc. within the area.
David Visco said:

Great response T M! I really like the idea of have the team leader provide a quarterly 2 minute brief. Curious, are any action items that surface during the brief reported on at the next quarterly review? In other words, are they held accountable?


Thanks for sharing


David Visco

5S Best Practices

Without the corner office support it is virtually impossible to sub stain any initiative. A strong 5S program is no different. Although as organizational leaders it is our job to do what is necessary for our shops and our people regardless of the support we feel we are getting.



One of the best things I have found for the offices & warehouses that resist Visual & 5-S improvements 1-2 years of struggle) is to just say "Clean up !" Forget all the slides and presentations, forget everything I have told you and just get organized. I say you are not ready for 5-S yet. You need to go back to the foundation of personal responsibility and standards of cleanliness you learned in Kindergarten. People seem to react to that. You have to know where people are speak to their level. I find that high production chaotic facilities seem to need baby steps. I have learned that the 5-S and visual workplace tools are not suitable for  some groups in the beginning. However, if you present the tools slowly and carve out 5-S Visually improved areas inside office and warehouses then those areas shine like spotlights out into the darkness of clutter and unfinished WIP etc. Eventually even the toughest group (and Management) sees the potential and then wants the improvement for themselves. At that point, you then just facilitate their desire for organizational and operational excellence.

Top management commitment... it means that the CEO and his executive team has to exemplify the 5S practices.  They should be the 5S champions and lead by example, like cleaning their own desks, following company rules & regulations, coming to meetings on time, etc.  Wanting is different from committing.

Second is a good framework, a long term plan say 5 years.  This may include: top management commitment or decision, forming of a 5S committee, training, 5S policies, 5S projects, 5S audits, 5S recognition and rewards, program review and improvement.  Training alone is not enough.

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