RICKS versus 5S

In the TPS Principles and Practices discussion group on LinkedIn, Frederick Stimson Harriman started a thread about why it is silly to translate 5S into English.

I think the main problem with the commonly used translation of 5S is that it is wrong and misleading. I don’t think it is silly to translate if you can get the meaning right. What is truly silly and hopeless is trying to find 5 English words with the right meaning and starting with “S.”

Back when 5S was only 4S, I heard the following in the UK: “Remove, Identify, Clean, and Keep clean” or R.I.C.K., and I thought it was both reasonably accurate and mnemonic.

For the fifth “S,” Shitsuke, I see it as the state you achieve when you have done the first four S’s long enough for the activities to become second-nature. If telling your kid every day to brush his teeth is Seiketsu, what you have accomplished when he does it on his own without prompting is Shitsuke. So I would translate Shitsuke by “Second-nature,” which happens to start with S.

With that, we could have R.I.C.K.S. as an improved translation. What do you think?