5S Methodology

What is 5S?

5S description

5S is a lean philosophy and a way of organizing and maintaining a clean, high-performance office environment.  The intent of the 5S method is to improve efficiency by eliminating waste. If you are interested in learning more or having the Process Evaluation and Improvement team facilitate a 5S exercise for your department please contact us at peiadmins@kent.edu.


  • Getting rid of items that are not needed (paper or electronic files, emails, etc.)
  • Arranging often-used items in your work area
  • Discussing how to sort shared spaces with others (physical spaces or virtual spaces, e.g. SharePoint)
  • This step helps to eliminate waste that results from being disorganized, and can also help to reduce unwanted duplication or redundancy.

Straighten (Set in Order)  

  • Having a place for everything, and everything in its place
  • Putting essential items in order so you can easily access them when you are ready
  • Having a designated place for the often used/shared items
  • Ensuring shared items are kept in a central location, and the location is communicated to all team members that require access
  • This step makes commonly used items more convenient to access, and helps to eliminate waste by reducing the time spent looking for items.  


  • Looking for different ways to keep things clean and organized
  • Visual inspection of work areas
  • Creating a cleaning schedule to assign responsibilities
  • This step helps to improve safety and accountability throughout the office.  Additionally, it can eliminate waste by identifying potential issues before they become a problem.


  • Creating checklists
  • Setting goals or standards for a consistent and organized work environment
  • Defining roles and responsibilities clearly, which creates accountability
  • Standardizing reinforces the first three steps by putting effective and efficient procedures and practices in place. This step helps to eliminate waste by ensuring the first three steps of the 5S process are adhered to and monitored. 


  • Making it a routine to maintain the correct methods and processes that you identified in the first 4 steps
  • Develop a continuous improvement culture that drives excellence and maintains the 5s methodology 
  • Ensuring the 5S principles are embedded in training activities
  • This final step helps to maintain the progress built through the first four steps, and eliminates waste by ensuring the waste-saving practices of 5S are adhered to.   It is easy for people to fall back into old habits, and the 5S process will eventually fail if all aspects are not sustained.