5S and the Visual Workplace

2 min read

5S has become one of the most precise processes for any organization that has adopted a lean methodology. It has been considered the foundation for lean concepts, while providing the stability for sustaining continuous improvement along the way. A key to sustaining 5S however, is combining 5S and the visual workplace concept together, to work hand in hand towards your lean vision and goals.

A Visual Workplace is Key to 5S

The primary objectives of 5S are clear: create a clean, orderly environment where everything has a place and is in its place, while exposing waste and establish a clear process to pursue all continuous improvement initiatives. Getting these objectives met consistently however, takes a little help and a few friendly reminders along the way.

We live in a world full of distractions that overcome our thought process and can alter even the most embedded rituals in our work day.  Creating a visual workplace that emphasizes your objectives and puts critical information at the point of need is extremely important to overcoming these mental hiccups we often have.

Also called “visual management,” a visual workplace accomplishes its objectives by translating important information using visually stimulating materials. By using a holistic, whole-brain, and systematic approach organizations are able to keep their mission and values easily obtainable for anyone within sight.

5S Poster
5S Poster

Reasons for creating a visual workplace:

  • Creates an environment that is continuously promoting employee’s commitment to the organization’s culture, mission and values.
  • Presents key information through use of sensory messages that reinforce training, planning and anything the organization deems important.
  • Addresses performance issues and keeps individuals on task with the overall mission and goals of the organization.
  • Provides a mechanism for consistent communication and information throughout the organization.
5S Lean Guide

5S Guide: Improve efficiency with effective organization

When the workplace is a mess, processes slow down. 5S, a systematic method for workplace organization, keeps spaces clean and clear of clutter processes. This 5S Guide explains the steps of a 5S program, how to start a program, and what tools you'll need to make 5S a success.

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By no means are visual aids and signs a replacement for training seminars or supervision. They are however, an extension of the training and supervision that adds to the overall success of the day-to-day processes.

Gwendolyn Galsworth is a well known visual expert and has been implementing visuality in the workplace for nearly 30 years in major organizations across the globe. She is a firm believer in the visual workplace as a means of sustaining the gains from lean and ensuring lean principles become a way of life in your organization.

A visual work place is a self-ordering, self-explaining, self regulating, and self-improving work environment where what is supposed to happen happens on time, every time

-Gwendolyn D. Galsworth, Ph.D.

Tool Foam Organizers
Tool Foam Organizers

Tools for a visual workplace:

A visual workplace is a great tool for eliminating those simple questions that we know we know, yet sometimes hide in the shadows of the brain we just can’t seem to see through. Having a quick visual aid to help you through the process will improve productivity, efficiency, quality, customer satisfaction, safety, and much more.

The old saying “seeing is believing” holds a lot of truth in the lean progression. Being able to immediately see and then address problems, is a big part of a successful lean culture. Having a bunch of posters and signs around the building is not a sure path to success, but it is a step towards improving and sustaining your lean ideology.

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Additional Resources

Kyle Holland

As a Content Developer for Creative Safety Supply, I pride myself on creating educational, well researched content to a niche audience of safety enthusiasts and safety managers around the globe. The philosophies and concepts of Kaizen, 5S, and Lean play a significant role in my own personal ideologies and help fuel the creativity behind my writing. Via the many communication channels offered by CSS, my goal is to help educate, motivate, and improve the safety of people, both at home and at work.