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Get Lean In 5 Steps! - Part 4

Updated: Nov 9, 2023

Standardize your workspace for great efficiency

In the last issue, we talked about cleaning up to shine. As noted, the intent is not to be overly meticulous but to set a good cleaning habit so that time is saved and headaches avoided.


Back in the good ol' corporate days, there were standards and procedures to follow. When it came to my work, I too created my own procedures in order to flow along with corporate life.


It helped a great deal to prevent mistakes and be able to flow with the day, particularly when things didn't go as planned. One of my coworkers often stated, "Make the plan and follow the plan." The only time the "plan" changed was when it was absolutely necessary.


For instance, when you decide to use new software. There is a whole new set of steps that need to be incorporated to produce the same outcome. Takes time and a bit of effort but eventually things smooth out and you are rolling again.


Step 4 Seiketsu - Standardize


The fourth "S" in the 5S methodology translates to standardize in English. Seiketsu specifically focuses on maintaining and sustaining the cleanliness and organization achieved through the previous steps of 5S: Sort (Seiri), Set in Order (Seiton), and Shine (Seiso).


A Small Office Space Example:


Imagine a small graphic design studio that has already gone through the first three steps of 5S:


Sort (Seiri): Unnecessary documents, old files, and outdated office supplies have been removed, leaving only essential items in the workspace.


Set in Order (Seiton): All remaining items, including office supplies, design equipment, and files, have been organized and given specific storage locations.


Shine (Seiso): A regular cleaning schedule has been established, and the office is kept clean and tidy.


Now, let's focus on Seiketsu, the Standardize step:


Document Management: The office standardizes its document management procedures. This includes naming conventions for digital files, file folder structures, and a clear policy for archiving and deleting old files. Team members are trained to follow these standardized procedures consistently.


Desk Organization: Each team member's desk space is standardized to have only essential items on it. A "clean desk" policy is enforced to minimize clutter and distractions. Office supplies are restocked following a set procedure, ensuring each desk is consistently organized.


Awesome tip: Take a picture of what your desk and office setup looks like at its best and most organized. This will keep you motivated to keep it looking topnotch and when you need help cleaning your assistant knows exactly where things are supposed to be.


This can also be incorporated into your home life as well if you want your kids (and spouse) to keep your home looking fabulous.


Meeting Room Booking: A standardized process is implemented for booking meeting rooms, including a digital calendar system where team members can reserve rooms in advance. This prevents double bookings and ensures that meetings start and end on time.


Email Communication: Standard email etiquette guidelines are established, specifying how team members should format email subjects, reply promptly, and use appropriate language. This standardization improves communication clarity.


Awesome Tip: The following are great subject line words to get right to the point. Check out the article "How to Write Email with Military Precision"


ACTION – Compulsory for the recipient to take some action

SIGN – Requires the signature of the recipient

INFO – For informational purposes only, and there is no response or action required

DECISION – Requires a decision by the recipient

REQUEST – Seeks permission or approval by the recipient

COORD – Coordination by or with the recipient is needed


Office Supplies Replenishment: A standardized process for reordering office supplies is introduced. When supplies run low, an automated notification system alerts the office manager to restock. This ensures that essential office supplies are always available.


Data Backup and Security: A standardized backup and data security procedure is implemented to ensure that critical digital files are regularly backed up and protected from data breaches or loss.


As you can see in this example, by implementing these standardized procedures in a small office space, the graphic design studio ensures consistency, efficiency, and a clean, organized work environment.


Team members can easily find what they need, meetings run smoothly, and communication is clear and effective.


The Seiketsu step helps maintain the improvements made during the earlier stages of 5S, fostering a productive and harmonious work environment.


In the next issue, we come to the last and final step in the 5S lean methodology Shitsuke - Sustain.


Go forth and standardize!

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