Act Your Way into a New Way of Thinking with 5S and Lean

“It’s easier to act your way into a new way of thinking, than think your way into a new way of acting.”

Lean and the TXM Practical 5S go hand in hand together.

This quote has been attributed to several people including Jerry Sternin, The Power of Positive Deviance: How Unlikely Innovators Solve the World’s Toughest Problems and Richard Pascale, Delivering Results. Regardless of whomever came up with the quote, it does provide food for thought regarding lean implementation.

This quote was brought to our attention over the Summer via two podcasts. Podcasts are great ways to expand your horizon and learn new things. We heard two different podcasts with AJ Jacobs (Amateur Hours on NPR Radio Hour and The Tim Ferriss Podcast) where he talks about his experiment of “Living Biblically” and how acting as a nicer person did actually make him a nicer person.

At the TXM office this got us thinking – How can we use 5S and Lean Thinking to help our clients act “as if” they are a world class organisation?

Here are three Lean tools that can help our team act their way to a new way of thinking, acting “as if” they have already achieved their improvement goals, and become a world class organisation. For clarity, when we talk about “world class” we are referring to companies that are continually improving and innovating within their industry.


The first stages of 5S where we start getting organised are a great way to start acting our way into a new way of thinking about workplace standards, housekeeping and safety. Working as a team we can decide how to organise our work spaces and crate visual standards the clearly display our expectations as to how we work and leave an area.

Weekly 5S audits give our team the opportunity to review and reflect on how we are going to these 5S standards; when they are working – that’s great – how can we improve it another step. If we haven’t been unable to uphold our expectations, why is that? what about this ares isn’t going to plan?


Visual Management

Visual metrics and daily meetings also help our team act their way into a new way of thinking about team performance by highlighting what is important and checking that each team member is clear on the focus for the day. It also improves communication and demonstrates that we are a company that shares information with our team and makes them feel part of an organisation, not kept in the dark and viewed only as resources.


Lean Daily Leadership

Daily leadership is a perfect approach to helping your leaders to act their way into a new way of thinking about leading their team to achieve their goals and take responsibility for solving their problems. Daily leadership gives leaders the tools to keep on top of the daily tasks and make good decisions regarding priorities as to how they use their time to best coach their team.

As we step further along the path of our lean journey this year, let’s consider how we can support our team to act their way to a new way of thinking about continue improvement, using the lean principles of 5S visual management and lean daily leadership.

In our experience has shown that the most effective Lean thinkers have learned “lean skills” from a “doing” mindset, with small repeatable trails, rather than by applying a “know it all from the books” mindset. This year we encourage everyone to approach the lean concepts and start learning. Of course, it helps to have a qualified coach, but the first steps can be taken as you learn and reflect during the initial stages. Developing a lean mindset where you are learning through practical trials is the key to having a successful 2017.

Good luck and if you require any assistance please contact TXM as we can help you get start in the right direction.

Michelle Brown

Author: Michelle Brown

Michelle Brown is a Senior Lean Consultant at TXM Lean Solutions.