Those of you grew up with Sesame Street may recall that each episode was brought to you by a different letter of the alphabet. I experienced my own version of this phenomenon three years ago, when much of my job suddenly became all about the letter “S”—or more accurately five of them.
I’m referring, of course, to 5S—sort, straighten, shine, standardize and sustain. Countless companies throughout the world have used this well-known Lean tool to significantly improve their workplace organization and maintenance. And in late 2011 my company decided to become one of them in a really big way by challenging 36 of our facilities to become fully 5S’d at once—and tapping me to oversee their efforts.