Thug (menacingly): Where’s the stuff? Hand it over quickly! (presumably referring to drugs)
Young man: I don’t know.
Thug gets impatient and repeats question:
Young man (in exasperated voice): I don’t know. I really don’t know.
And then the camera zooms out and we see the young man’s room is in a complete mess with things strewn all over the place. And the message from the advertisers says: "Storage problems?" ..… I think you can guess what they are selling.
I love this advertisement. It’s funny and it brings across so graphically the basic message of 5S, which is:
Good housekeeping makes it easier to find things and thus improves productivity.
But what happens when you get to the workplace?
Over the past 20 years, I have amassed literally thousands of photos of cluttered, messy and dirty workplaces. Most of the time, people know that it is important to practise good housekeeping, but they are too busy and have ‘no time’. Unfortunately, these people will wait till a crisis arises before they try to put their house in order; such as in the event of an accident, or a warning from the authorities or an impending visit by their customer. In other words, they think that housekeeping is important but not urgent. We will do it when we have time. But the longer you delay, the dirtier the place becomes and the more difficult it is to put right.
In his outstanding book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey says that a highly effective person is one who is 'proactive' and 'puts first things first'. He distinguishes tasks that are urgent but not important, from those that are important but not urgent, and consciously sets aside time for the latter. Good housekeeping, or what we call 5S belongs to the second category. My Japanese teacher, Mr Motomu Baba puts it differently; "Do fire-preventing, not fire-fighting."
So take a good look at your workplace. Is it like the photos below? If it is, in Steven Covey’s book, you are not creative but ineffective.