Learning about 5S

5S For Healthcare bookcover5S is one of the building blocks of Lean. 5S is usually taken to have five stages or pillars – Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardise and Sustain. Some workers use slightly different terms, and in health care a sixth ‘S’ – safety is sometimes added. There is a discussion of 5S in a previous blog post, available at this link.

The best known book on 5S is by Hiroyuki Hirano. Hirano’s book, ‘5 Pillars of the Visual Workplace’ is well worth reading. It was written for a manufacturing audience, however, and it can feel off-putting for healthcare staff. ‘5S for Healthcare’ is a good alternative. The book, written by the Rona Consulting Group, is part of the ‘Lean Tools for Healthcare’ series, published by Productivity Press. Productivity Press are a well known publisher of books on Lean techniques, including translations of some of the important Japanese texts.

‘5S for Healthcare’ is an easy read. It’s just under 130 pages long, with numerous exercises, diagrams and examples. It is has a useful introductory chapter describing 5S as a whole, including a discussion of common objections to 5S, and a good outline of the benefits of 5S. The benefits discussion would be useful to anyone working on a case for 5S implementation in their organisation. The remainder of the book is structured around the five stages, with a chapter on each stage.

Each chapter has a similar layout, with an explanation of the reason for the stage, followed by a detailed account of its implementation in practice. It is obvious that the authors have extensive experience of 5S and its use, and the examples are well chosen to illustrate important points. Photographs and diagrams all relate to health care settings, and help to make clear the context, and its application in health care.

The book covers the theory adequately, but is particularly good in showing practical examples. There are photographs of 5S work in progress, including good illustrations of standardisation, visual control and mistake proofing. The book also includes a helpful discussion of the Sustain stage – which is often glossed over. It’s always easier to undertake an event than to embed change and stick to it over time, and time spent on supporting long term change is invariably time well spent.

If you have not undertaken 5S before, or have had a general introduction, but now want more detail, this book is a good source of information and advice.

Image courtesy of Productivity Press

5 thoughts on “Learning about 5S

  1. Pingback: Using 5S in health care – guest post by Jane Howe | Lean Health Services

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