Fact: 70% of America’s employees are disengaged from their work and their companies. It’s such a huge problem that it’s actually holding the entire economy back: $450-550 billion is lost yearly in unproductive workers.

How can you stop flushing money down the drain and get employees excited about the company again? How can you make everyone feel more valued, enjoy their jobs, and turn them into bigger company earners?

Hierarchies can really get in the way of running a business as smoothly and efficiently as is possible. Somebody’s always waiting on a janitor to clean the bathroom, a co-worker to put the dry erase markers back where they belong, the boss to give orders about where the printer paper needs to be stored.

The result is a lot of stuff not getting done fast enough, time that’s getting wasted, wasted space, and a bored workforce that is stuck in boxed-in routine roles. And what good is any of it doing for customers, other than translating to heftier price tags for your products?

One of the principles of Kaizen, or the Lean approach is that there are no hierarchies. Knowledge is constantly shared, and everyone is expected to bring their full selves to the table to improve every task, every decision, every process that goes on. People do it because they know it breathes innovation into the company daily, which helps keep the company stay competitive and everybody gainfully employed, even during tough times. And that is what we do at Xylem Design.

An easy place to start implementing Lean principles at your company is to have each employee 3S the company workspaces. The 3Ses of Lean are:

1. Sweep

2. Sort

3. Standardize

First, clean up a little. Everybody loves a clean space and you will too.

Then, look at what is keeping you from cleaning easily.

Then, analyze what you are doing with that thing, and find a solution that eases interaction with it. Make it so it’s out of your way, easily accessed, easily identified by others (signs with pictures are great!) and in a place where it can stay put.

For some serious 3Sing genius check out Andrea, Xylem Design’s Customer Relationship Specialist. When she arrived this morning, she 3Sed her way to faster cleaning, less moving of things around unnecessarily and more desk space.


Guess who now has more time to devote to being her amazing lovely self to our customers?

Tell us what you think in the comments below! Would a Kaizen work structure improve your company? What 3S idea could you do right now in ten minutes? We’d love to hear your ideas.