5S plus 1 applied in Africa

A visual sample which shows how a good bead looks like.

Sort (Seiri)

It’s when you remove parts and equipment which are not needed in your working environment. Why should you have things around you which you don’t use? For example, we removed the colour paints which we don’t use anymore, as we started to focus solely on natural paper colours. We even had one incident where we mixed up the bottles, so instead of using transparent varnish, we coloured the beads in red.

Set in order (Seiton)

It’s one of my favourite tools, where equipment and the whole workplace gets organized in a way that everything is labelled, coloured and placed in an easily accessible location.

In the midst of sorting the beads by colours, sizes and types.

Shine (Seiso)

This is basically a step where you clean up your workplace. Nobody wants to work in a dirty environment and for some businesses it’s even crucial to stay clean (e.g. food) to meet regulatory requirements. In our case cleanliness is mandatory too, as we don’t want to produce dirty beads. Our customers don’t like it and we definitely want to satisfy them.

Finally we have the clean working spaces covered with beautiful hand made mats.

Standardize (Seiketsu)

It’s a method where we set up norms and clarify responsibilities for our workers. Usually you place visual reminders and examples to ensure everyone is aware what is expected.

Cutting the standardized paper stripes which will be rolled into beads.

Sustain (Shitsuke)

The most challenging and important step towards making our workplace as efficient as possible. This is when we try to ensure that whatever was implemented becomes a habit and new way of working.

We have placed water jar can in front of the entrance to ensure everyone washes their hands


It’s the most important aspect of every workplace. Workers need to feel safe during their working hours and managers need to continuously identify potential hazards to set up preventive controls. Everyone needs to be aware of potential risks and act safely. It’s never an easy task to achieve 100% safe working environment, but through the continuous effort to implement the 5S steps it can be drastically improved.

Closing words

What I love most about 6S method, is that it involves all staff members. Everyone needs to collaborate with each other and improve the common workplace which benefits all parties.



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Agne Nainyte

Agne Nainyte

Digital Transformation Consultant at Schuberg Philis and blogger at https://nainyte.com/