During your annual medical check-up, your doctor might suggest that slimming down would be better for your health. Likewise, if you conduct a regular business health check, you may realize that a leaner approach could make your business more productive.

There are a number of lean business practices you could try. For instance, have you heard about the 5S system? It is one of many workplace organizational tools that can improve both place and process. Although this methodology was developed for the manufacturing field and other industrial settings, it can be applied to a wide variety of businesses of any size or even areas within a business.

This system is based on a series of Japanese practices that aim to eliminate waste. Each step is identified by a word that starts with the letter ‘S':

  • Seiri (sort) – This first step involves eliminating anything that is underused or not needed at all. Without clutter, it is simple to find what you really need. Without distractions, you get the job done.

  • Seiton (straighten) – Once you have streamlined, it is much easier to create a new system that is based on order and simplifies the process. Having a place for everything saves time and effort.

  • Seiso (sweep) – Putting the new process into daily practice will make it seem effortless. Maintaining order becomes automatic.

  • Seiketsu (standardize) – When there is consistency, more people can do a variety of tasks and take on more roles within an organization. This is useful when team members are sick or absent.

  • Shitsuke (sustain) – By committing to the new routine, which takes discipline, you can look ahead towards growth and more improvement.

A more efficient workplace makes it easier to get work done. You can probably increase productivity, and catch errors or potential problems. So why not think about adapting some form of the 5S principles to your business? After all, eliminating waste of any kind – time, effort and money – can only benefit your bottom line and contribute to good business health.

Consult our guide to Assessing business health for more tips. To learn more about thinking lean, take a look at Production planning.