5S and the Visual Workplace

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.

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.

Additional Resources