Leadership: The How’s and Why’s of Keeping Things Clean

by on March 7th, 2015
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Cecelia, one of my reports came into my office, “Hey, boss. What’s up.”

I looked up from my computer screen and smiled. “Nothing, just looking at reports. What about you? Anything happening since,” I pretended to look at a watch that I don’t wear, “About an hour ago?”

“Nope, just checking on you.” Her eyes scanned my desk and she scrunched her brow. “Man, boss, you keep this place spotless. I wish I knew how or why you do it.” She gave a small laugh at the end.

“You want me to tell you why and how I keep my area clean?”

She nodded, “I mean you’re the guy with over 20 years of experience as a leader and that six sigma green belt. I figure you could make up an answer for that, anyway.”

“Okay,” I said. “It is a leadership tool. I do it to be more efficient.”

“More efficient?” She asked.

“Yes. You see if I keep my desk clean and free of clutter, I never have to waste my time moving anything. I never have to waste my time looking for anything. It makes me efficient. As a leader with lots of responsibilities, the less time I waste, the better. So, I keep things in their place, so that if I ever need it, I know right were it is.”

She seemed interested, so I continued, “You see,” I moved my stapler revealing a taped boundary like that at a crime scene, “I even outline where stuff goes so that if anybody should come in here and move it, they will put it back where I can find it the next time.”

“That makes sense,” Cecelia said. “How do you do it?”


“Well I have a system called the 5s system. First I sort. I only keep the things that I use on a regular basis out in the open and I mark where they go. If I have other items that I use once a quarter,” I opened my drawer. “Well, I keep them right in here, and I mark where they go. Everything else I get rid of. Then, obviously, I straighten it up. I have it in the marked areas and keep it there. The third ‘s’ is scrubbing. I keep it all clean. I have a schedule for when I clean it to ensure that it stays that way.”

Cecelia gave me an incredulous look, her body swayed from me a bit.

“My forth ‘s’,” I continued, “is for standardization. I replace each item on a schedule, so it won’t break on me and waste my time looking for a replacement. And the fifth ‘s’ is for sustain. I keep a schedule and repeat it as necessary.”

Cecelia was by the door now. “You should call it the 5 s’s and one ‘f’ system,” she said.

“‘F’?” I asked.

“Yeah, that ‘f’ is for freak,” she said laughing.

“Hey,” I said. “You asked and I told you. I do it to be efficient. I minimize my wasted time spent looking for things and for replacing them when the break. To me, it is worth it.”

Cecelia nodded. “I may give it a try,” she said.

“You should,” I said.

“Have a good day boss…er..freak.”

“You, too, Cecelia. Don’t waste too much of your time looking for things.”

And she was gone.

Thanks for reading.


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