Attacking the kitchen with 5S (#1)

In an attempt to stop obsessing about laundry and dishwashing procedures, I’m turning my attention to cooking. I’d like to start thinking how to make the cooking process leaner, since it’s another big area where our everyday time gets eaten up.

I’d prefer to jump right in and start stripping out waste, but looking at the kitchen I realize we’re not ready for that. Before we get into streamlining, we’ll need to get the place organized better. There’s too much clutter to even SEE where the subtle kinds of waste might be.

This isn’t uncommon; many flowcharts of lean transformations that I’ve seen include a cleaning-and-reorganizing step before you get into the core work of lean improvements.

But there’s a hitch: If you don’t know how you are going to be organizing the lean process that you are putting in place AFTER the spring-cleaning, how can you really clean and reorganize things without wasting a lot of time? That is, if the final goal is unclear, how can you really work towards it?

My view is that what our kitchen needs right now is to give us the simple ability to see what’s there. Once everything is visible and at least arranged so similar items are close together, it’ll be more obvious what we are dealing with when the real organizing gets begins.

To put it another way, we are in the first phase of the famous “5S” cleanup process that is commonly used to kick off lean initiatives. In this first phase, called “Seiri” in Japanese and often “Sort” in English, we simply go through everything to see what is there. The main goal is to figure out what is necessary for getting the job done and what is unnecessary. You can guess what we are supposed to do with the unnecessary stuff: Dump it.

So I’ll be going through the kitchen and loosely pulling things together, with an eye toward what really needs to be in there to help us get cooking done, and what is just clutter that gets in the way. I’ll report how it is going, and talk about the other 4 S’s in the “5S” process, in the next post.


About adbenking

A journeyman sociologist living in Chicagoland.
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2 Responses to Attacking the kitchen with 5S (#1)

  1. Pingback: 5S in the kitchen: Sorting. | Everyday Lean

  2. Pingback: 5S in the kitchen #4: On to Straightening | Everyday Lean

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