The Perils of Ignoring 5S in Offices

By : Daniel Markovitz, TimeBack Management

Note: This posting is from a guest Blogger, Dan Markovitz, founder and president of TimeBack Management a consulting firm in California. Dan has been quoted in, written for the Wall Street Journal, Industry Week and recently published a piece on the Superfactory website. I hope we’ll have more contributions from Dan in the future. — Mark Graban

The benefits of 5S in a manufacturing environment are obvious and well-documented. In an office environment, however, the benefits are just as real — and the costs of ignoring them equally so.

Recently, I referred someone to a senior member at an executive search company. He’s a perfect fit for their services: this company specializes in the recruitment of financial professionals, and he has a Stanford MBA, 15 years of experience, and tremendous analytical skills — and he’s actively looking for a new job. A match made in heaven.

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And yet, the search firm never called him. One week went by, two weeks, then three. No contact. When I followed up with the search firm, the headhunter said that she just lost the piece of paper on which she scribbled his information. He quite literally got lost in the shuffle.
Her desk is a disaster: papers strewn everywhere, terrible organization, and no standard procedure to sort through the piles and deal with the information that’s been piling up. It’s no wonder that she forgot about him.

As a headhunter, her “work in process” consists of job seekers and companies looking for employees. And yet her workspace is so disorganized that she literally lost the very thing that she should be working on

He ended up finding a job on his own. Her firm, however, not only lost short-term revenue, but a long-term relationship.

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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent project is an book titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

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