The 6s Discipline

How principles of lean manufacturing can be applied to your working environment

A few weeks ago, the company moved us to a new office. When we walked into our shiny, new cubicles we found a single sheet of paper laid out on top of our recently installed, empty desks describing something called The 6S Discipline.

It was a concise list of 6 bullet points that summarized a process to keep our work stations clean and organized. I later found out that the 6S concept comes from the Lean Manufacturing philosophy, the principles of which can also be applied to an office setting.

Since I have always liked to keep my workplace neatly organized and keep around only the things I need at one particular moment, the 6S concept strongly resonated with me.

If you want to learn more about the 6S philosophy, you can read this comprehensive 6S overview I found searching online. On the other hand, if you just want to grasp the gist of it, here are the 6S principles in short form, just like in the page I found on my desk:


  • Sort out necessary and unnecessary items
  • Keep only items necessary to perform the job
  • Remove and discard the items not required

Set In Order

  • Organize the essential materials in the workplace
  • Find “a place for everything and keep everything in its place”


  • Keep the area clean at all times


  • Maintain the Sort, Set In Order, and Shine Steps


  • Maintain the gain
  • Look for ways to continuously improve your work area

Safety First

  • Provide an accident-free workplace. Eliminate hazards.

In essence, 6S is about eliminating waste and maximizing value-adding activities, by creating and maintaining an organized, clean, safe and efficient work environment.

Photo Credits: Jared Schmidt

Last updated: May 9, 2017

© 2022 Mario Sanchez Carrion