From Seiri to Shitsuke: The Secrets to Japan Enterprises’ Success

Posted: June 25, 2018 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Economy, Junub Sudan, Socio-Cultural

By Morris Madut Kon, Kyoto, Japan

Pyramid Continental Hotel

Pyramid Continental Hotel, Juba, South Sudan; photo by Emmanuel Ariech Deng


Monday, June 25, 2018 (PW) — Japan is regarded as one of the world’s most innovative nations. Its dominant automobile industries lead in the developed world and their auto-products are conspicuously present in all the corners of the earth; from the famous Pennsylvania Avenue of Washington DC to Ayien Amuol Village of Twic State, “the car in front is always a Toyota”. Needless to say, Japan hasn’t always been where it is today, and their enterprises haven’t always been successful, not until they decided to incorporate the idea of “Kaizen Philosophy” or “continuous improvement” and the FIVE “S” in their management systems…and as we shall see below, South Sudan enterprises, like the rest of the world, have a lot to learn from this philosophy.

The 5S method is a tool for continuous improvement in “lean management” processes, whose task is to create a highly efficient, clean, and comfortable working environment. It is a collection of 5 simple guidelines that allows you to control the workplace visually. Enshrined in Japanese philosophy, the 5S tool encompasses five basic elements: Seiri (selection), Seiton (systematization), Seiso (shining), Seiketsu (standardization) and Shitsuke (self-discipline).

Nearly thirty years ago, researchers started studying the secret of success of Japanese manufacturing companies and 5S turned out to be the most impressive “secret”. The factories here are so well organized that abnormal situations are readily apparent. This collection of techniques is implemented in the following manner:

Seiri (Selection)

This is the basis for the standard that follows the principle: Just what is needed, in the quantities needed only, and only when needed”. That is removing from the workplace any items unnecessary to perform the current operation.

Seiton (Systematics)

 Seiton is a means by which you keep all your equipment in order and label both the equipment and all the items stored so that everyone can easily find what is needed. The effectiveness of the systematics depends on proper selection. The Systematics will be ineffective if there are too many items organized and labelled unnecessarily. Speed identification of objects, can be obtained by labelling, drawing lines and outlining the highlight/shadow areas.

Seiso (Cleaning)

Seiso tasks in the workplace include washing, vacuuming, renovation and dirt/dust/waste removal. The 5S method procedure should be implemented as a necessary and routine task performed by each employee to create a friendly and safe working environment. Regular cleaning improves the feeling of comfort, and reduces the risk of equipment failure. An important element at this stage is the responsibility and common involvement of all the team members participating in the process.

Seiketsu (Standardization)

Its implementation and maintenance of the previous three stages of the 5S, is a time when it is possible to begin standardizing the company processes with the use of this method. The introduction of a set of rules resulting from the three steps of selection, systematics, and cleaning will help employees to understand their tasks and the aims to be achieved by the introduction of the 5S method. At this stage it is possible to implement instructions at the workstation.

Shitsuke (Sustain/Self Discipline)

 Shitsuke is the continuous acting in compliance with given procedures. In accordance with the concept of Kaizen, the previously started tasks should constantly be improved. To maintain the introduced policy, the management can enter internal audits and bonus schemes for employees. Applying checklists at various positions allows to check on the present degree of compliance with earlier assumptions.

Predictably, following the 5S techniques brings about enormous improvement in the overall firm performance. Advantages range from higher equipment availability lower defect rates, reduced costs, increased production agility and flexibility, improved employee morale, better asset utilization, enhanced enterprise image to customers, suppliers, employees, and management.

The above-mentioned tools are applicable and equally beneficial in every aspect of life, for personal improvement. Overall success after all will be dependent upon your serious regard for details, e.g., how neat your bed is, how clean your room or desk gives you a subconscious sense of self confidence and self-satisfaction. A student who routinely applies 5S techniques will unquestionably outshine his/her colleagues that are smacking of patchiness.

The author is a former Teaching Assistant at the University of Juba, and currently pursuing Masters in Developmental Economics at Ritsumeikan University, Japan. He can be reached via his email:

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made is the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël Media (PW) website. If you want to submit an opinion article, commentary or news analysis, please email it to PaanLuel Wël Media (PW) website do reserve the right to edit or reject material before publication. Please include your full name, a short biography, email address, city and the country you are writing from.

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