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Does Neatness Count ? --- dont put your briefcase under your desk!

October 27, 2008
by Joe Bormel
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Does Neatness Count? According to the Lean practice, 5S, it's critical.

On the front page of today's WSJ, there's an interesting article:

Neatness Counts at Kyocera and at Others in the 5S Club- Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardize, Sustain; Getting Mr. Scovie to Go Through His Boxes (link).

The article might be worth a quick read, especially if you keep your briefcase under your desk. Apparently, that's very bad. I didn't know. (As we've discussed previously in

"How to multi-task", some folks realize that there's a strong connection between clutter, effectiveness, and emotions critical to focus.)

If you need to take a break from your work and can spare 4 minutes, go the

video tab.


comments tab is interesting as well, with a CEO, Wayne Baimbridge, sharing some experience.

Just as Carol and Charles indicate above, if you can't communicate the "vision" so that everyone buys into the idea as a good one, passive aggressive behavior starts to work it's way into the picture. Unfortunately, once managers and coworkers decide they are not going to follow a program regardless of it's obvious benefits, it creates a work environment of authoritarian proportions that evaporate any benefit that the original idea brought to the table. Without good leadership in management that can communicate the "vision" of any good idea, it's doomed for failure at it's outset. It was the lesson of my career.

The article reviews the healthcare experience using 5S at Virginia Mason in Seattle in 2002, driving standardization into shared space of doctors, nurses and assistants.

Does anyone have healthcare experience to share regarding deploying Lean / 5S for performance improvement?



Like many other executives, I have a reasonably effective and efficient method to GTD (David Allen's Get Things Done). The challenges of prioritizing have been straight-forward; dealing with distractions and keeping energy use to a minimum are continual opportunities for improvement.

I recently started listening to Allen's book, audio edition. He makes the point that there is often a big difference between being neat and being organized.

Noted office efficiency expert, Patricia D, shared an interesting and important observation. Kyocera is paying their employees to clean up and keep their office spaces neat. "That takes time away from the production, which is unusual in American business. It does give them a more efficient space, ahead of time for next time they look for materials to get their work done. No wasted time finding things necessary to get productive in the future."