Recently, I started in a new job. Even though it would not be my first choice, I am very pleased with it and I am working hard to make it a success. So now, it is time to improve, first and foremost myself. Spread the word, spread the lean mindset.
Start with cleaning the workspace
As in a lot of office situations, starting in a new job means starting in an existing office with an existing computer on an existing desk and with and existing cabinets. Somehow, I have some problems with these cabinets; they are usually filled with old paperwork, cutlery and more of the likes. One of my first actions is to clear my new cabinet to regain some hygiene and clear my workspace. Of course, it’s part of the 5S methodology:
- Sort (seiri)
- Straighten (seiton)
- Shine (seiso)
- Standardize (seiketso)
- Sustain (shitsuke)
A clear desk and clear cabinet helps me to think straight and start fresh. This is a quick win for me. The next step is to standardize (by using document folders for main items, with the help of plastic folders for sub items).
I have a daily two-minute cleaning session at the end of each day and a weekly five-minute cleaning session to sustain a clean working space. In this way, I can see quickly where improvements are possible in the short and longer term.
Sort and straighten, especially of digital archives, is tricky. My co-workers are used to whatever structure they are using, so I don’t start with it immediately; I want to learn what’s important for them or the company, and I want to know the company culture. Sometimes, wanting to move on quickly is only a set back. In this case, cooperation with the long-time employees is mandatory, to maintain a productive and friendly working environment. On the other hand: it also takes some discipline to keep the archive tidy.
What have I learned?
- Office cabinets are often a place full of things you really don’t need to keep.
- I can be rigorous, but I must beware that I am not too enthusiastic.
- It takes a lot of effort, especially in the beginning, to sustain a tidy working space.
- Using the 5S methodology is like everything else in lean: one step at a time and keep on going.