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Japanese 5‐S – where TQM begins

Samuel K.M. Ho (Samuel K.M. Ho is based at the School of Business, Hong Kong Baptist University, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong.)

The TQM Magazine

ISSN: 0954-478X

Article publication date: 1 October 1999



It has been recognised that Japanese firms are clean and orderly. The same is true for high quality western firms. Over the last two decades, the Japanese have formalised the technique and name it as 5‐S practice. The author has developed the world’s first 5‐S audit worksheet and used it for training in Hong Kong, Malaysia and the UK since 1994. As the name is new to most western societies, the objective of this paper is to explain the intricacy of the 5‐S so that it can be understood easily and adopted readily by those who may find the tool useful. 5‐S is also an important tool for action learning and the corner stone of a new paradigm for quality culture. In 1994, the Hong Kong Government Industry Department started promoting the 5‐S practice in Hong Kong. Many seminars and workshops have been conducted and they were all very popular and well‐received by the business community. As a result of the success, the Department commissioned a “5‐S practice workbook” with ten successful case studies from the manufacturing, services and public sectors. Further, a grant has been given to the authors to train up 2,500 5‐S lead auditors, the first of its kind in the world. The experience will also be shared in this article.



Ho, S.K.M. (1999), "Japanese 5‐S – where TQM begins", The TQM Magazine, Vol. 11 No. 5, pp. 311-321.




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