The Five S’s of Lean Six Sigma

The Five S’s of Lean Six Sigma

In any given business setting, Lean Six Sigma has been a useful tool in creating order and eliminating waste. This is the reason why a growing number of professionals are looking to get Lean Sigma training and certification.

But what does Lean Six Sigma really entail? By definition, Lean Six Sigma is a method of employing collaborative team effort to improve performance by systematically removing waste and reducing variation.

To put it simply, Lean Six Sigma is a synergized managerial concept of Lean and Six Sigma. Traditionally, lean is focused on the elimination of eight kinds of waste which include defects, over-production, waiting, non-utilized talent, transportation, inventory, motion, and extra-processing. Sigma, on the other hand, leans toward improving the quality of process outputs by identifying and removing the causes of defects and minimizing variability in processes.

Speaking of the elimination of wastes as upheld by Lean Six Sigma, the philosophy of the ‘Five S’s’ helps to achieve this end-goal. The primary objective of the ‘Five S’s’ is to have a strategic way of focusing and thinking in order to better organize and manage a workspace. We will further discuss and expound on these S’s down below.


The first S of the five stands for sort. Sort entails the process of eliminating any unnecessary workplace clutter. This process starts with checking all workplace items and categorizing them into clusters. Unnecessary items are then flagged by ‘red-tagging’ which means that these items are considered to be waste. Once these items – such as tools, supplies, materials, and equipment – have been properly sorted, they are then relocated to a holding area for evaluation. The rule of thumb is that obsolete clutter is to be discarded while those seldom used are to be stored nearby.

Set in Order

Once the sort step is completed, the next S is to set things in order. The goal is to examine methods of effective and efficient storage and to create an organized, ergonomic, uncluttered, and easily navigable work environment. Setting things in order entails knowing what specific items are needed for the tasks, how many items are needed to carry out the tasks, and where these items can be accessed. The use of labels and color coding are helpful for this step. Being able to locate essential items makes for a less stressful work environment.


The next goal is to ensure cleanliness to the fullest after the clutter has been eliminated and the storage has been organized. It is crucial to properly and thoroughly clean the work area every day. All the sorted items, the storage areas, tools, equipment, and machines should be checked and cleaned regularly. A clean and uncluttered work area makes for an environment that is conducive to working.


Now that the first three steps have been completed and the items around the workplace have been put in place, it’s about time to standardize these new practices. All members and stakeholders of the organization and business should be highly compliant. To uphold these practices, the upper management should establish new ruling guidelines. There should also be constant reminders in the form of visuals and emails. This will make it easier for these new standards and best practices to be reinforced after its implementation until old habits die out.


Finally, the sustainability of the newly implemented standard should be given the utmost consideration. It can be rather challenging for stakeholders to adjust, but with utmost discipline, each and every member can make a difference. It does, however, take a collaborative effort from all members involved to constantly reinforce key responsibilities and sustain the best practices. The success of this implementation comes when all employees will be able to sustain the practice in the long run.

If you’re looking to learn more about the Lean Six Sigma programs, get in touch with us

today to see how we can help. We offer full Lean Six Sigma courses and certifications, including Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt, Lean Six Sigma Green Belt, and Lean Six Sigma Black Belt programs.  Call us today to learn how you can apply the five S’s of Lean Six Sigma to your company.

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