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The lean method approach uses 5S to provide workplace organization. It is the standards for the physical aspects of the functional area. Like quality, 5S is something that cannot be audited in. It has to be culture driven and not event-based. A true 5S system that is culture driven does not need monitoring and is driving safety, quality, and cost improvements. Until we have achieved this culture Steelcase uses a 5S flag system to indicate the status of 5S in an area. This document will explain that process.

Process Owner:

  • Brent Golembieski
  • Email:

America's Content Expert:

  • Mike Carter
  • Email:

APAC Content Expert:

  • Saiful Bahari Che Hashim
  • Email:

EMEA Content Expert:

  • Stephanie BLANCAN-CALLEN
  • Email:


  • 5S – Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain
  • Sort – Remove any unnecessary items. Only essential items in the work area.
  • Straighten – Arrange the remaining items so that they are easily accessible. A place for everything and everything in its place.
  • Shine – Scrub, sweep, clean, paint, etc., all that remains. Clean everything and keep it that way!
  • Standardize – Create guidelines or standards to keep your work area organized, orderly, and clean. Ensure the first 3 steps are maintained and improved.
  • Sustain – Educate everyone about 5S to help ensure that everyone follows the standard. Keep efforts going throughout the day and not just at the end of the shift.

Red Flag – Area is not tour ready and needs immediate attention.

Yellow Flag – Area is tour ready.

Green Flag – Area is tour ready but with a WOW! reaction when viewed.


Green Flag 5S to Support Manufacturing Excellence


  1. Everyone


  1. Support 5S by following their standard work and operator based maintenance 5s tasks assigned them to bring quality, cleanliness and organization to their daily efforts.

Zone Leaders

  1. Determine who is responsible for what tasks (Expectations)
  2. Combine STANDARDIZED 5S duties into daily work activities and place in:
    • Standardized Work
    • Operator Based Maintenance Tasks
    • Includes Green Recycle/Reuse Tasks
  3. Multiple daily checks on how well it is being maintained (visual checks, audits)
  4. Determine the flag color status of their area at the beginning of each shift using the 5S audit sheet and fly the appropriate color flag on their Zone Leader board. Report the flag color to the operations manager or shift lead at their daily LMS meeting.

Operations Managers and Shift Leads

  1. Documents the flag color status of all zone leaders in the value stream and fly the lowest color reported on their LMS board.
    • Example:
      • An operations manager has 6 zone leaders who report five yellow flags and one red flag.
      • The operations manager must fly a red flag on their LMS board.
      • Corrective action is documented on their LMS board.
      • The flag color status is then reported at the Plant LMS meeting on the accountability board.
      • Conducts a 5S audit using the 5S audit sheet once a month for yellow flag status and weekly for a red flag status.

Plant Manager

  1. Review the 5S flag status of all value streams during the LMS board review and fly the lowest color reported.
    • Example:
      • A plant manager has 6 operations managers who report five yellow flags and one red flag. The plant manager must fly a red flag at the Nerve Center.
      • This represents the 5S status of the entire plant.

More information pertaining to 5S can be found in the Steelcase Lean Playbook along with the 5S Audit Sheets, English, Spanish, Czech (linked) and the 5S Color Code Standard (linked) and on the Zone Leader Toolkit SharePoint site (linked).

Steelcase Lean Playbook

Global 5S video

Steelcase Video

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