Simple is always better

For a large organisation to be effective, it must be simple.

Jack Welch – former CEO of General Electric

Doing something in a simple way is better than doing it in a complex way. Makes sense right? It’s too obvious.

And yet, so many businesses have built this massive organization with all kinds of people in all kinds of roles. Huge processes and complex systems that end up keeping progress hostage. You can’t get anything done, let alone try something new…

5S (or for some 6S) is a tool in Lean that looks at the workplace. It’s a simple process with 5 steps:

  1. Seiri – 整理 – Sort
  2. Seiton – 整頓 – Set in order
  3. Seiso – 清掃 – Shine
  4. Seiketsu – 清潔 – Standardize
  5. Shitsuke – 躾 – Sustain
Photo by Christian Lambert on Unsplash

For me, simple relates to the first S – Seiri, sorting things out. According to Wikipedia, the first two steps for Seiri are:

  1. Check all items in a location and evaluate whether or not their presence at the location is useful or necessary.
  2. Remove unnecessary items as soon as possible. Place those that cannot be removed immediately in a ‘red tag area’ so that they are easy to remove later on.

And that’s all there’s to it. Look at your daily commercial execution, look at how you launch new products, how you manage your distribution partners or how you generate leads. I’ll bet you there’s ‘stuff’ in there not relevant, not being used or in the way of progress. I’m sure you’ll have some customers on some special pricing agreement where nobody really remembers why.

Act on those two steps, and you’re done.

Winning is simple

But it’s not easy