Last week I spent several days at the Michigan SHRM conference (for HR people). While I was there, I conducted a couple of training sessions on applying the principles of lean to administrative processes and got to play with Legos.  Coming back made me think about how returning from conferences and business trips always tends to result in a few things piling up.  In addition to the work you miss while you’re away, you also bring back a new stack of stuff.

Here’s how you can apply the 5S principles we practiced to get back up to speed quickly:

  • Sort and remove the unnecessary:  If you don’t think you are going to use something soon, get rid of it.  I love the stuffed carrot that I won, but it had a very short life in my office.  Make Goodwill your new best friend.
  • Set the location in order:  Take the information that you will use and organize it right away.  Organize your subject matter files by topic.  If it’s available online, see “Sort” above.
  • Scrub/shine:  Make sure you clean up any remaining spilled beer.
  • Systematize:  All of those great contacts that you made?  Put them right into outlook or whatever contact list you keep.  HRCI credits?  Don’t wait until you need them in December, update the HRCI online database now, that way you won’t have to worry about losing the numbers of the courses you took. Let the systems work for you.
  • Sustain:  Before you leave today, spend 5 minutes organizing your office.  When you come back, you’ll be glad you did.

Most of all, check in with your team to see how things went while you were away.  If you have robust systems in place, then the work should have continued to move right along.  If not, there may be a kaizen opportunity.  Be sure to ask them about the frustrations that they encountered.  Remember the best changes come with a plan.  Don’t repeat my living room experience….

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