Larry Loucka, a close friend and colleague, recently pointed me to a February 16th Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article.

Now, before you roll your eyes and give me the WSJ-isn’t known-for-getting-the-lean-thing-right look, hear me out. What the Journal published is really, really good stuff…even if lean, and 5S in particular, was the furthest thing from their brilliant mind(s).

The title of the WSJ article is “Messes and Wrong Guesses.” Much of the content is ostensibly gleaned from a work written by Boyoun (Grace) Chae and Rui (Juliet) Zhue, entitled, “Environmental Disorder Leads to Self-Regulatory Failure.” It was published in the December 16, 2013, on-line Journal of Consumer Research.

I’m guessing most Gemba Tales readers aren’t very familiar with that journal.

But, I digress! Here’s the pertinent stuff.

Chae and Zhue conducted several revealing experiments with two different populations of volunteers. One group of participants was placed in a messy and chaotic environment. The other group was placed in a more organized environment.

Both groups were subjected to several tests. The results reflected that the folks in the messy environment, in comparison to those in the more organized environment:

1) were willing to spend more for a variety of products (including a high end TV, vacation package, and pen),

2) took longer to complete a tricky, brain teaser type test

3) demonstrated less stamina when attempting to solve a difficult (actually unsolvable) puzzle.

Now, I don’t know what the sample size was, but the WSJ article stated that, “[i]n each case, volunteers in the organized environment did better…”

The researchers, Chae and Zhue, “say the results show that disorganized surroundings threaten people’s sense of personal control, which in turn taxes their self-regulatory abilities.”

So, next time someone challenges you on why 5S is a good thing, look them in the eye and tell them it’s (sort of) proven that it lowers stress and enhances the self-regulatory abilities of everyone in the workforce. That sounds like respect for the individual AND a greater capacity for execution and daily kaizen.


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