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Mastering the Art of 5S Implementation: A Step-by-Step Guide

by Allan Ung

Mastering the Art of 5S Implementation: A Step-by-Step Guide

"Good workplaces develop beginning with the 5S's. Bad workplaces fall apart beginning with the 5S's.”

Dr. Hiroyuki Hirano

5S is a lean manufacturing methodology that aims to improve efficiency, productivity, and safety in the workplace. It is a systematic approach to organizing and standardizing the workplace to eliminate waste and increase value-added activities. The term 5S stands for Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain. Each of these principles represents a specific activity that helps to achieve the overall goal of 5S implementation.

The purpose of 5S is to create a workplace that is clean, organized, and efficient, which leads to improved employee morale and increased productivity. The benefits of 5S implementation include reduced costs, improved safety, increased quality, and better customer satisfaction.

In this blog, we will discuss the eight steps of 5S implementation, from forming a steering committee to conducting 5S audits, and how they can be applied to achieve successful implementation of 5S in any organization.

The Eight Steps of 5S Implementation

5S Implementation Process

Step 1: Establish a 5S Steering Committee

The first step in implementing 5S is to form a 5S Steering Committee (a.k.a. 5S Council). It is essential to structure the committee along the same vertical lines as the implementing organization and select committee members who are strongly motivated and capable. The 5S Steering Committee should have the top management at the top and should work down through Kaizen Circles or other similar problem solving teams at the bottom. This committee will be responsible for planning, implementation, goal-setting, creating structures (e.g. sub-committees) and promoting 5S activities.

Step 2: Define a 5S Implementation Plan

The 5S Planning Office should formulate plans for 5S implementation activities and cascade the 5S plan down to the division, department, and lower levels. It is important to tailor the plans to suit each division and department and hold 5S promotional activities to clearly explain 5S and answer questions from staff. The organization should also plan and launch a "5S Day."

Charting the Course to Organizational Excellence: Putting a 5S Implementation Plan in Motion.

Charting the Course to Organizational Excellence: Putting a 5S Implementation Plan in Motion.

Step 3: Launch Communications Campaign

Communication is key to any successful change management initiative. The organization should launch 5S communication sessions for the various target audiences, leveraging available meetings (e.g. daily management meetings) and platforms that facilitate two-way communication. It is also important to use a wide range of communication channels, such as face-to-face, email, speech by the CEO, intranet, newsletters, etc., and adopt the 5W & 1H format for communication.

Step 4: Provide 5S Training & Education

Training and education are essential to ensuring everyone in the organization understands 5S and its benefits. The organization should train and educate all management and staff, stressing the "what is in it for me" at the operator level. It is also important to develop training plans to support the 5S initiative. The training plans should include the target audience, training topics, training methods, facilitation, and resources.

Step 5: Start 5S Pilots

Designating model areas to start 5S pilots is an effective way to demonstrate the benefits of 5S to the rest of the organization. Selecting 1-3 pilots based on strong leadership and people who are motivated and open to making changes and improvement is recommended. Using the strategy of scoring quick-hits by targeting the low-hanging fruits and keeping records such as photos and measurements is essential.

Out with the Old: Streamlining the Workplace with a Clutter Cleanse.

Out with the Old: Streamlining the Workplace with a Clutter Cleanse.

Step 6: Mass Rollout

After completing the pilot runs, the organization should debrief the 5S pilot teams and make adjustments as needed based on their experiences. Developing a mass rollout plan that includes the sequence of events, roles and responsibilities, and performance metrics is necessary. Project management tools should be used to track the progress of the implementation.

Step 7: Conduct 5S Audits

Conducting 5S audits is a way to measure the success of the 5S implementation process. The Evaluation & Certification Office should define the 5S audit schedule, audit criteria, and audit checklist. Posting audit results on the 5S activity board of the audited area and using visual tools, such as the Rader Chart, is recommended. The audited team needs to formulate an action plan to improve its performance.

5S Excellence in Action: Tracking Progress, Driving Performance.

5S Excellence in Action: Tracking Progress, Driving Performance.

Step 8: Review & Improve

The 5S Steering Committee should ensure that the 5S activities are ongoing to sustain the 5S implementation process. Conducting an annual review at the minimum and renewing and improving the 5S Steering Committee and the supporting structures is essential.


In conclusion, implementing 5S requires a structured approach that involves all members of an organization. The eight steps of 5S implementation provide a roadmap for a successful implementation. By following these steps, organizations can improve their workplace efficiency and productivity while reducing waste.

Allan Ung

Article by Allan Ung, Principal Consultant at Operational Excellence Consulting, a distinguished management consultancy based in Singapore. Our firm specializes in maximizing customer value and minimizing waste through the strategic adoption of Design Thinking and Lean management practices. For further details, please visit 


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