Shine! The third S of the 5S

(Seiso, 清掃, according to Wikipedia)

Other parts of this series

Cleanliness or shine?

According to Hirano the third pillar is called “cleanliness”, a term which doesn’t help very much in clarifying the implications for the knowledge-worker or software-development organization.

Let’s have another look at the article from Wikipedia.

  • Clean your workplace completely
  • Use cleaning as inspection
  • Prevent machinery and equipment deterioration
  • Keep workplace safe and easy to work
  • Can also be translated as “sweep”

Once again this seems easy – or at least obvious – when the workplace is a workbench, a car pit or any other environment where ‘real’ or physical dirt accumulates. But how do you attain cleanliness at the workplace of a knowledge-worker?

In my opinion, when your knowledge work involves computers, the sweeping might include:

  • Checking the local working copy of your source code control system for orphaned files
  • Removing temporary files
  • Removing unused build and configuration files
  • Deleting invalid contacts and obsolete phone numbers or addresses
  • Or even such mundane tasks as running anti-virus software regularly
  • Keeping you synced folders (e.g. Dropbox) synced
  • Keeping Backups
  • Removing unused branches in the source code control system

If your work also includes actual creation of code there usually is a lot of cleaning up to do at the end of a coding session. That cleaning up could include (but is not limited to) things like

  • Removing duplications
  • Removing experiments
  • Removing trace and debug statements that are no longer needed
  • Adding trace and debug statements for maintenance purposes

Even apart from work directly related to computers there is a lot of ‘sweeping’ possible:

  • Re-evaluting your planned work (e.g. backlog grooming in many scrum-inspired environments) – weed out the stuff you don’t need anymore
  • Removing old versions of documents
  • Removing outdated links from the documentation (e.g. Wiki-pages)

And so on – just get rid of stuff that doesn’t add value any more or is outdated. Having superfluous ‘things’ usually confuses people more than it helps.

What are your suggestions for sweeping the workplace of knowledge-workers?

Till next time
  Michael Mahlberg

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