5S exercise

Hi everybody!

Someone who have a "good" 5S exercise for in-class training for production personal, that you will share with me. I know that I can go out in the production area and show them,I will do that, but before it I do that I will get them to think about hauskeeping before

/best regards, SWEDEN

PowerPoints and reading material of 5S are readily available for nominal fees. Once employees are trained, periodically do a walk-thru of your work areas. Maybe grab a tool or piece of equipment and randomly choose a person on the team to bring it to. Ask them to return that item to the proper storage place. If your team member does not know where to return the item, you know right away that there is more work to do in workplace organization.

I heard about a quick classroom exercise (haven't personally tried it) that brought the 5S points home. Here it goes:
1. Creat a powerpoint with the numbers 1 to 100 on it. Make sure you place the numbers randomly around the page. Use different font and size. Even make some upside down. You get the point.
2. Ask the class to find numbers 1 to 50. (This should take about 5 minutes)
3. Have the class apply 5S to the process.
4. Step 1: Sort out numbers 51-100
Step 2. Set the numbers in sequence 1 to 50
Step 3: Shine the numbers to the same orientation.
Step 4: Standardize the numbers to the same size and font
You will have to create separate powerpoint slides showing the progress
5. Show the class the correct slide and time them on how quickly they find the numbers from 1 to 50. (Should take about 1 second). Compare the times.
Ask if they have any questions, since they will be applying these tools to their own work area.

Good luck


I have a simple "Numbers Game" that is a great and simple training aid. It works very well for shop floor team members. I do not have it electronically, but I could fax you a copy. Let me know.

Tanks for recommendations!!!

I have to excuse me , probably I formulated me question incorrectly, I do not need the training material (theory of the 5S), I need some type of 5S simulation or/and game to illustrate how 5S concept works in reality...

/best regards

The Numbers game is an exercise that you can use with anybody in your organization to drive point the need and use of 5S. I have used it in every team I have formed and it is still a very effective tool.
I have attached it with this posting, give it a try.



Your question got me thinking about how I might design such an exercise. So, this is something I haven't tried and maybe I'll never get a chance to. But I figured I'd share it anyway. Please feel free to play with it, modify it or ignore it completely.

The intent is to give the people a taste of building "products" before and after 5S, preferably with them doing the transformation themselves.

The "products" should be simple enough to build in a minute or so each, but have at least a few parts and require more than one tool for assembly. Depending on what your company manufactures you may be able to use parts right off your production floor. Although it might be better to use a simple "product" that you create yourself and nobody's already familiar with, it should be at least somewhat similar to products you do make.

I'm thinking you should have at least two different "products" but probably no more than three or four.

Make up a set of work instructions (or drawings or whatever your people normally use to do their jobs) for the "products" and also make a bunch of work instructions for a number of other similar but different ones. (Bonus insidious points it you also throw in out-of-date revisions of the work instructions they'll need along with the current, needed ones.)

Also gather a bunch of "important but not immediately useful" paperwork; things like company quality manuals, safety procedures, equipment service manuals and such.

Gather the parts they'll need to build your "products." You'll need enough parts for each or your people to build at least few examples of each. Also get a number of similar parts that they won't need.

Gather the tools they'll need, some they won't and some they won't but look like the ones they will.

For example, I thought it would be ideal to have "products" that needed a Phillips screwdriver and a hex key to assemble. Get a collection of screwdrivers, Phillips, slot and square (bonus insidious points it you throw in Posidriv) of different sizes. Get a collection of hex keys in different sizes (bonus insidious points it you throw in some Torx keys, double bonus insidious points it you mix metric and inch hex keys together).

Side note: some high-end tool companies (Bahco, PB Baumann, Wera, etc) make screwdrivers that are color-coded and/or engraved by type. Don't use these for the exercise. You want tools that all look alike. (Do use color-coded/engraved tools for real production!)

Get some other tools, hammers, pliers, wrenches etc. (But nothing sharp edged, you don't want anybody getting hurt while fumbling for tools!)

Make up some cards that say what and how many "products" to build at one time. You can call them work orders or kanban or whatever your people are used to. You'll feed them to the students as they work so they won't know the lots size or mix until the exercise is under way.

Now, prepare to begin the exercise. Set up a "workstation" where the students will build the "products." Have a stopwatch ready to time the activities.

Mix up all the work instructions, the ones they'll need and the ones they won't, and place them in a pile on the "workstation." Throw in the "important but not immediately useful" paperwork too.

Mix up all of the parts in a box and place it on the "workstation."

Mix up all of the tools in a small toolbox but remove one of the tools they'll need. Keep that tool close by but hidden until someone asks for it. Place the toolbox in the "workstation."

I'm still trying to think through whether it would be better to introduce 5S before or after the first round of the exercise. If the students are given the 5S's before hand, they can observe each other and take notes with "S'ing" in mind. If you ask them to observe each other and think about how things could be improved and then introduce 5S, "the light will come on" as they see that 5S describes ideas they already came up with themselves.

Anyway, that may take some trial and error to figure out which way to go.

Either way, the hands-on activity of the first round is to have each student sit down at the workstation (hmmm, or maybe start them standing up and having to walk to it first) while you hand them the first work order and start the clock. Have the other students observe and write down, but not say out loud, what they see. Feed each student a couple of work orders and then have the next student cycle through.

When they discover the needed tool is missing hand it to them quickly, without stopping the clock or pausing to discuss anything.

You probably shouldn't keep track of each student's time, just the overall time for all students to complete all the work orders. You're not trying to address individual performance here; you're trying to show how the system works.

After they've built their "production run" have a group discussion about 5S, how it relates to what they've just done and how they'd 5S the process to improve it.

I think you'll find that experienced production personnel will have lots of great suggestions and you won't have to lead them very much or at all.

Some of the ideas that are likely to come up:
Lose all of the "important but not immediately useful" paperwork (especially the out-of-date instructions!).
Arrange needed work instructions by part number.
Keep all parts separated and identified in their own bins.
Arrange parts bins in the order they'll be used and within easy reach.
Don't bury tools in a little box.
Lose all of the tools you don't need.
Arrange the tools in the order you'll need them. (It wouldn't hurt to talk about shadow boards and/or formed trays.)
Have all the tools you'll need before you start. (And the shadow boards and/or formed trays make that really obvious if you try to steal that tool again, which you should anyway. ;-) )

You get the idea.

Now, implement their suggestions and do another "production run" with the same stack of work orders. See what the clock tells you and how they feel about the improvements. Most importantly, discuss how it all relates to their real work areas.

Anyway, that's my first pass on the concept. You can dress it up or down, add things like "a place for everything and everything in its place" for waste packaging, scrap material, processing offal, etc. You can add in gauging, inspection or whatever processing you think is important for your people. Have fun with it and tailor it to whatever you need to teach.

It's more expensive and complicated than a paper game but I think production operators would relate to it well. It's probably cheaper than buying a commercially designed game from a consultant and you may be able to throw it together with stuff from your own factory.

Hope this helps.


Over ten years ago, I designed a simple, short (3 hr) lean overview simulation that utilizes the board game Scrabble. The first part of the simulation demonstrates the value of teamwork, 5S and workplace organization. This portion of the simulation can be completed in a little over an hour. The second part of the simulation demonstrates how to use metrics to identify the proper lean tool to implement while seeking to continuously improve manufacturing performance during three rounds of "producing" phrases.
I presented the simulation at the Shingo Prize conference in 1997 to very favorable feedback and recently used the teamwork and 5S portion of the simulation as an icebreaker exercise to help introduce a diverse group of manufacturing professionals (both lean and non-lean practitioners) to each other.
This lean overview simulation is both fun and effective and has been presented to over 500 manufacturing employees. I'm currently using the simulation to supplement training materials in an open-enrollment Kaizen course that I teach at a local community college. If interested, send me an e-mail for a powerpoint presentation on preparing and delivering the simulation.



To all who have shown such overwhelming interest in the Scrabble exercise, I apologize for not getting back to you sooner with the presentation. As the interest in the simulation swelled, I realized that I needed to obtain Hasbro's approval to use their Scrabble materials. I am currently in the process of communicating with Hasbro to ensure that everything is done correctly. Thanks again for all of your interest and support.



It has been one year since my original post, and I have not received any feedback from Hasbro from my inquiries about any trademark issues with referencing Scrabble in the simulation. I'll admit that I haven't been overly aggressive in following up from my original requests.

I am attaching the simulation trainer's notes that I created in the hopes that some of you who have expressed an interest may still be able to find it useful. This presentation represents the first part of the simulation that specifically addresses the orginal post about 5S.

I appreciate all of the interest in the simulation. I was quite overwhelmed and humbled by the response to my original post. I would be interested in feedback on either your use of the simulation or your thoughts on how it might be improved.



If you log onto http://www.institute.nhs.uk/images/documents/PWard/5snumbersgame.swf you will find the 5S 'game' already prepared for you to use and print off free of charge

Tim that sounds quite impressive.

How have you found it with different people ?

Do they get it ? Do they make the link to how the learning might apply to their own jobs and areas ?




The exercise seems to resonate with different people. I've presented to people from a variety of backgrounds and the basic principles of workplace organization are understood by people in all industries. The simulation demonstrates the value of moving beyond the first 3 S's and shows how to standardize and sustain. The basic concept of a visual workplace where standards are integrated into the workplace is present in the simulation. The second part of the simulation involves "assembling phrases" and demonstrates through metrics why quality comes first, then productivity, then after the workplace is stablized, the reduction of inventory which frees up space for value added manufacturing activities. All activities are linked to a cost per piece metric I'll send you the presentation. Let me know what you think.


I have a simple excercise which I use it very effectively when discussing 5S implementation. I ask all the trainees to relax, close their eyes "imagine you are sitting in your living room and watching TV, you want to drink Milk, you get up, walk to your kitchen, and you open the fridge door, take the Milk can, and pick a glass and you pour the milk in to glass, keep the milk back in the fridge. Drink the milk"
You need to speak slowly and steadyly. Then ask the trainees to open their eyes. Randomly pick one and ask them where did you find the Milk in the fridge. Ask another what type of Milk (Vitamin D or fat free, 1% etc). Ask another how do you know it is that type (Hink Cap Color), ask another where did you keep the milk back?
Another where did you find Glass, another after drinking where did you keep the Glass. Etc etc,,.
Now those who are reading this did you observe what I am trying to say here?

Build your own thoughts/ideas on this. This excersise covers all elements of 5S, if you play carefully.

Boooooom light bulb goes up! and all will understand the concept. When I do this everyone in the room (CEO to President to line workers) say WOW...Duhh

Good Luck All!

Anyone know of good/humorous 5S video/DVD material? Geoff R South Africa

We use a LEGO based game for this.
The basis is you have to build a house out of LEGO. Two boxes are supplied and one pre built house. One box contains all the bits required to build the house plus more besides (inclsuing some plant shaped ones - over processing), together with some junk, a couple of boiled sweets (candy). All the bits are randomly thrown together.
The second box conatins only the bits required. These are sorted into trays in order of use - bottom corner points in first tray, etc. with the chimmney in the last tray. There are clear instructions included in this box (SOP) - pictures at various stages. The base board is also marked out with where the corner base blocks should go (Poke Yoke)
Place the pre-built LEGO house in front of both operators (on a box so they can't see each others build) and ask them to build it. The house will have different coloured bricks at different layers which must be replicated. Allow everyone else to observe the difference in build time and quality. Also encourage discusion - continous improvement.


As a 'newbie' in these forums, I'm amazed that so many members are not 'practicing what they preach'!

What am I talking about? I have just read through post after post in this thread where each person is individually asking for a copy of the 5S presentation to be emailed to him/her, and expecting the poster who oriiginated the Scrabble game to methodically note each email address and then send out the application.

Am I missing something here? Does applying Lean stop the moment that you walk out of your office or factory door?

In the short time that I have been browsing these forums, I have seen these type of 'behaviour' many times. Has no-one thought to streamline this process?

If no-one else will do it, I will offer for free some file space on my server so that useful applications like this can be uploaded and stored in a central location and 'pulled' by each person who wants a copy.

This is not a 'flame' on anybody. It's just total amazement from me that so many so-called Lean experts on this forum are doing exactly the opposite of what Lean is all about :)



Thank you for your feedback and suggestions. As it turns out, LEI is working on a better way to share "stuff" - such as the attachments referenced in this particular Forums thread. We always welcome input for how to make LEI and lean.org better to support the lean community and their learning journey. Any other specific suggestions, requests, comments, etc. are gladly welcomed, and can be sent to me at [email protected].

Rachel Regan
LEI Forums Moderator (and Director of Community Support)
[email protected]

We use a very similar exercise, but with letters.

Curious to know have you seen any links out there for VSM simulation's?

Thanks for sharing


[email protected]

"Now those who are reading this did you observe what I am trying to say here?"

I'm sorry but can't figure out what you're meaning... Please explain more precisely your thoughs. I tought that I know enough about 5S but maybe not enough after all.


This is a great exercise! We did this prior to a 5S in a very, very messy and disorganized area (the mechanics! They can't stand to throw out ANYTHING!!). They "got it." Very powerful and a lot of fun too.

the 5S Game of Random Numbers is created by VALEO...and it's very common...
It has another game created by AUTOLIV : The pencil Game...and it's very interesting

[email protected]

Hi friends,

I need a collection of 5S before-after pictures. Office 5S before-after pictures would be great, too. Can anyone help me to find picture to use on communication boards?

my e-mail: [email protected]


Hi there,

I just put up a post on my blog yesterday about the 5S numbers game. It includes a PDF of the numbers so that you
can print them out.

The blog posting was on the 13th January.You can get it at www.leankaizen.com

Hope this helps

Graham Ross

To all who have shown such overwhelming interest in the Scrabble exercise, I apologize for not getting back to you sooner with the presentation. As the interest in the simulation swelled, I realized that I needed to obtain Hasbro's approval to use their Scrabble materials. I am currently in the process of communicating with Hasbro to ensure that everything is done correctly. In the meantime, I will not be able to forward the presentation at this time.

Some have suggested that I redesign the simulation to get around the copyright issues; however, the simulation would not be as effective and I do not want to water it down. I realize that some, if not most of the interest in the simulation comes from people's familiarity with the game of Scrabble. I will let those of you who have asked for the presentation know, as soon as I receive word from Hasbro to proceed.

In appreciation for your interest and patience, I would like to offer another simple, fun and yet, very effective way to deal with the resistance to change typically associated with Lean initiatives. The attached presentation is a great ice-breaker to get people thinking differently and to be more accepting of the changes associated with lean implementation. I've also used this exercise with great success for many years now. Shingo Prize examiners may recognize the exercise as a simpler version of it has been added to the examiner training class to demonstrate the concept of systems thinking. I'm interested in your feedback. My contact information is at the end of the attached presentation.

Thanks again for all of your interest and support.





Thinking lean....well presented. The new numbers system and the web provide good takeaways. Thank you for sharing with all. I will share it with my friends.


When these employees of yours are at home, do they put their dinner dishes anywhere they can find room, or do they always put them back in the same place?

How many have spent valuable minutes looking for their car keys because they did not put them back into the same place each time they enter the house.

And who has NOT had to deal with the cluttered garage that has so much stuff in it that one can not fit the car into it.

Or how about the spouse that corrects the other helping in the kitchen to say "no, it's not done that way, do it this way."

These are very simple examples of 5S that everyone can relate to, standard work, sorting and setting in order. If they we do this stuff at home, why do we feel we can't do it at work.

After going through the 5S audit with the group and how to audit an area, I had the class perform and 5S audit on the class room. It was very positive. It helped them understand the point of the audit and how the audit can be used in almost any environment.

On several occasion, I've asked participants to pull out their wallet or purse and we have spent some time with purpose, red tagging and organization on these items. This is particularly effective with leaders who want to conduct lean activities in an area without SME involvement (e.g. "Janitorial 5S" or "I want the area to look 'neater' without freeing up the users of the area to participate and learn and contribute to the upkeep"). In these cases, I ask partipants/leaders to "pass their wallet or purse to the person to their right" so that person can peform the red-tagging process. The reaction is usually immediate and provides an excellent teaching oppotunity on 5S roles for the facilitator.

Hi Tim
Ge Sensing have just embarked on a 5S programme. We view it in supply chain as a basic foundation on which to build our lean transformation.
Prior attempts, and there have been many, have failed to sustain the initial momentum; most of the shopfloor teams having stalled at sort.

We have developed a 5S scorecard & encourage the teams to use kaizen to develop their own solutions. Bigger ideas are supported by the AWO process.

I would be interested in using the simulation to accelerate our own lean journey; please email: [email protected]

The 5S Numbers Game is a good exercise. However be aware that the Power Point slides containing numbers beyond 49 contain two errors---the number 55 is missing and the number 54 is repeated.

Perhaps others have caught this, but wanted to pass this info along just the same.

Best regards,

Chuck Keberdle

hi dear ,

I am attaching one ppt. file of 5s please look and tell how it is.




It doesn't matter one bit that #55 is missing and #54 is repeated - the customer requirement (task) is for #1-49 in round 1 prior to the Sort. Then, after the SORT, the numbers above #49 have been removed anyway

Good information in the presentation 5S-Houskeeping.ppt.
2 points I will like to make.

1. Think about your audience and use of lot of Japanese words rather than ones that are commonly used locally based on the culture (national, company, shop-floor) in relation to how much acceptance of someone's idea is there rather than our idea for good sustainability.
2. 5S is more than Houskeeping. First 3 S represent most of the houskeeping, hence decide if you are providing material for what outcome.

Best of luck.

Dear Mr. Revsul,

I do have one 5S game. I have obtained it from some one many years ago. It is very simple one. To play the game, set of 3 alphabetics (A - Z) is needed.

How to play :

Drop all the sets on a table in jubled way and ask a volunteer to form a word "MISS UNIVERSE.

Track the time take he / she to assemble it.

Remaining steps of the game will be lead by the participants after watching it. In fact, you can modify the next two or three levels and control it accordingly. Articulation is most important to extract the 5S lessons embeded in the game.

Try it out. Good Luck.

It has been one year since my original post, and I have not received any feedback from Hasbro from my inquiries about any trademark issues with referencing Scrabble in the simulation. I'll admit that I haven't been overly aggressive in following up from my original requests.

I am attaching the simulation trainer's notes that I created in the hopes that some of you who have expressed an interest may still be able to find it useful. This presentation represents the first part of the simulation that specifically addresses the orginal post about 5S.

I appreciate all of the interest in the simulation. I was quite overwhelmed and humbled by the response to my original post. I would be interested in feedback on either your use of the simulation or your thoughts on how it might be improved.


Your post on LEI has me interested. Always looking for more kinetic learning methods.

Jeff Smith
Mfg Engineer
Lean Leader

Hi Tim, Seems you have a lot of interest... perhaps you could package it as a formal training kit and selll it here on LEI!

Charles -

Nice catch. It is done on purpose to show that these errors are not apparent, until you Sort, Sweep, & Simplify.


I have used the paper exercises reccomended by a few of the others on this forum, both letters and numbers.

I have also in the past used small toolboxes and a collection of lego to demonstrate the power of 5S;
The "worst" tool box contains a very poorly written set of instructions to construct a small model, with all of the required pieces mixed in the base of the tool box with many additional pieces and even some similar pieces to those required that will not fit with any other parts..
The "best" box having a very easy to follow colour photograph instruction sheet, only the required parts in the various trays, each clearly labeled and in the correct order for construction.

If required have additional boxes between the two extreemes to demonstrate the steps.

Very easy to put together, cheap, and a more visual demonstration than the paper exercises.

How To Implement Lean Manufacturing

I have been working on Lean implementation as greenbelt for 5 years The best way to achive is getting a good managmeont support otherwise

all the works are paper works

Thank you for sharing this exercise! I had played the game before and was hunting for the instructions on the web and found this...perfect!

I may have shared this on this discussion already, but just in case, I'll add again. This is a presentation of "Quick and Simple Simulations" that I gave at the Reliable Plant conference this spring. It contains a number of simple sim's that I've acquired or developed over years of Lean training. A version of the Numbers Game is in there.

In addition, I have many longer simulations that were not included (the goal here was simulations that could be done in less than 15 minutes).

Hope you find some value in them.


I think that probably it is too late for this request, but I was just wondering if you still have that "Numbers Game" available, and if you could possible fax it to me at 204 325 4858, it would be really apprecciated
Thanks in advance.


I made my own copy. Happy to share.



For everyone who is interested in seeing the Scrabble exercise in action, I will be presenting a 4 hour workshop at the upcoming AME Conference in Chicago on Friday, October 19th. If you are attending the conference and would like to learn more about how to setup and use this fun exercise sign up for the workshop. I'm looking forward to sharing it.


@Tim - I'll be there sharing "Quick and Simple Simulations" on Thursday. I already have plans for Friday, but we should connect while there! What is the easiest method? Twitter? I'm @mdthelen. Let me know!

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