The 5S System: How To Implement Continual Improvement In Your Business


In the ever-evolving world of business, the ability to improve operations and boost efficiency is paramount. Fortunately, there is a powerful tool that can help businesses achieve this: the 5S System. Rooted in Japanese concepts, this framework is designed to foster good habits and encourage efficiency and accuracy in all areas of business.

By incorporating the 5S System into your business practices, you can realize significant benefits, including improved communication among employees, reduced costs associated with waste and errors, and enhanced customer service.

In this blog post, we will discuss the 5S System and how it can help you move your business in a positive direction.

1. What is 5S?

What is 5S
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To create an efficient and productive workplace, the 5S system of management is a must-have in the manufacturing and service industries. Developed as part of the Total Quality Management (TQM) system in Japan during the 1950s, this tool has become a reliable way to optimize lean operations ever since. To remember it more easily, use these five Japanese words: Seiri (sort), Seiton (straighten), Seiso (shine), Seiketsu(standardize), and Shitsuke(sustain). Each of these words represents a different step in the 5S process, which is designed to create an organized, safe, and efficient work environment.

The goal of 5S is to promote a culture of continual improvement. By reducing clutter, waste, and inefficiency, organizations can increase efficiency, reduce costs, and improve safety. Additionally, it encourages employees to take responsibility for their own work and take ownership of their tasks. Establishing a standard system can provide teams with the ability to pinpoint and address any issues quickly, guaranteeing that production processes are running optimally.

5S provides a neat environment beneath which every tool, material, and workstation is labeled correctly; this eradicates confusion for employees and reduces time wasted searching for items as well as mistakes due to inaccuracy in judgment or carelessness. Additionally, it mitigates potential risks caused by messiness or inadequate organization while cultivating an atmosphere of pride among workers who feel appreciated when their efforts are recognized.

By adhering to the five steps of 5S, any organization can tap into improved efficiency and productivity. Not only that, but it is also a proven system for bolstering safety measures, decreasing wastefulness, and streamlining operational processes – all while uplifting employee morale in the process!

Let’s break down the 5 steps and tackle them one at a time.

1) Sort (Seiri)

Sort (Seiri)
The 5S System: How To Implement Continual Improvement In Your Business 31

The first step of the 5S system is Sort (Seiri). This involves organizing the workspace by getting rid of any unnecessary items and properly storing those that are necessary. This allows for more efficient use of space, which can lead to improved productivity.

A. Questions you might have in this step

  • What should I do with the items that I no longer need?
  • How do I decide what is essential and what isn’t?
  • How can I properly store the items that I need?

B. Important to remember in this step

  • All unnecessary items should be removed from the workspace.
  • Take your time when deciding what is essential and what isn’t.
  • Make sure all essential items are stored in an organized manner.

2) Set in order (Seiton)

Set in order (Seiton)
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Step two of 5S involves creating a well-structured system, setting aside the items that have been marked as necessary, and organizing them in an orderly manner. The purpose of this step is to make sure everything is within reach while also storing tools, materials, and equipment efficiently. While arranging these details, it’s important to consider what kind of storage will be used for each item. To be successful, 5S requires shelves, bins, and cabinets to enable a neat workspace with rapid access.

Additionally, it is essential for each item or area to have visible labels so that things can be easily identified by all involved in the organization’s process. By involving everyone from the firm in this activity, we will create indisputable results of success from 5S implementation! By engaging your staff in the process of creating an organized and efficient workspace, you can ensure that everyone is on board with any changes.

Invite team members to generate ideas for organizing their work areas, providing input on how those suggestions should be used. By working together towards a common goal, you’ll soon have a streamlined office space that’s easy to manage and maintain over time!

A. Questions you might have in this step

  • What criteria should I use to decide which items should stay and go?
  • How can I arrange everything so that it’s easily accessible?
  • Which labeling system makes the most sense for my needs?
  • When is the best time to review my organizational plan?
  • How do I make sure everyone follows these guidelines consistently?

Before you embark on the journey of organizing your space with 5S, it’s important to determine which items are regularly used and those that play a role in certain tasks or projects.

B. Important to remember in this step

When organizing your workspace, it’s essential to remember that everything has a place. All items should be clearly labeled and organized in an efficient manner. This step also involves ensuring that the workspace is free of clutter and distractions. Additionally, the amount of time needed to complete tasks should be minimized by avoiding wasted movement.

Finally, make sure to keep safety as a top priority, as hazardous materials should be handled with extreme caution. Taking all of these precautions into account will lead to greater productivity and efficiency in the long run.

3) Shine (Seiso)

Shine (Seiso)
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The “Shine” step of the 5S System is all about making sure that your work area is clean and organized. It involves inspecting, cleaning, lubricating, and replacing any equipment or materials that have become worn out or are no longer functioning properly. This step is important because it helps to ensure that your workplace is safe and efficient, as well as aesthetically pleasing.

A. Questions you might have in this step

  • How often should I clean my workspace?
  • What type of cleaning products should I use?
  • How can I make sure that my workspace is well-maintained?

B. Important to remember in this step

  • Pay attention to the details – shine up even the smallest parts to ensure a safe and productive workspace.
  • Make sure to follow all safety protocols when cleaning and lubricating equipment.
  • Develop a routine for cleaning and inspecting your workspace on a regular basis.

4) Standardize (Seiketsu)

Standardize (Seiketsu)
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Standardize (Seiketsu) is the fourth step in the 5S system, and it involves establishing and following a standard operating procedure. This helps to create consistency in the workplace and ensures that employees are adhering to safety protocols, as well as other important practices. It also helps to minimize errors and wasted time or resources. During this stage, checklists and visual controls are established to help monitor and ensure accuracy.

A. Questions you might have in this step

  • What types of standard operating procedures should I create?
  • How do I make sure employees are following the procedures?
  • How often should the standard operating procedures be reviewed?

B. Important to remember in this step

  • It is essential to create clear and consistent standard operating procedures that are simple to follow and easy to understand.
  • Ensure that all employees receive proper training and are familiar with the procedures.
  • Regularly monitor the procedures to ensure they are being followed correctly.

5) Sustain (Shitsuke)

Sustain (Shitsuke)
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Sustain is the fifth and final step of the 5S system. It focuses on establishing and maintaining the changes created by the other four steps. This step is critical for ensuring that the changes are lasting and creating a culture of continual improvement within the organization.

What is Shitsuke? It means “to continue” or “to sustain.” In the 5S system, it refers to making sure that the improvements made in the previous steps are maintained and become an integral part of the organization’s culture. It requires putting processes and policies in place that ensure compliance with the new standards and making sure they are followed consistently over time.

A. Questions you might have in this step

  • How do I ensure sustainability in my organization?
  • What processes should be put in place to ensure compliance?
  • How often should I review my 5S implementation?

B. Important to remember in this step

  • Establish processes and policies to ensure compliance with new standards.
  • Creating a culture of continual improvement.
  • Regularly reviewing progress and setting goals for further improvements.
  • Ensuring that everyone is involved in the process, from top management to front-line staff.

This is the most important step. Why? As with everything in life, the changing process has three phases: first one – changing process, second one – sustaining this process, and third – keeping this improvement, as daily life. Shitsuke help to fix these habits in your organization, without the risk to came back to the previous stage. Is the way of doing things.

2. The Benefits of Implementing 5S

The Benefits of Implementing 5S
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The 5S system is an incredibly valuable tool for businesses to increase efficiency and create an environment of continual improvement. By following the 5S principles, organizations can achieve a wide range of benefits, such as increased safety, improved morale, increased productivity, and cost savings.

First and foremost, implementing 5S in the workplace improves safety. By organizing the workplace according to the 5S principles, employees are able to easily access the materials and equipment they need, reducing the risk of accidents caused by clutter or disorganization. Additionally, clear labeling, visual cues, and color coding can help ensure that hazardous substances are kept out of reach of those who should not be exposed to them.

Another benefit of 5S is improved morale.

With a well-organized workplace, employees feel more secure and efficient in their roles and are more likely to be happy and productive at work. Furthermore, when 5S is properly implemented, it can improve communication among team members and provide a feeling of collective responsibility for the workplace’s overall organization.

The 5S system also leads to increased productivity. By eliminating unnecessary tasks and creating efficient systems, workers are able to complete their jobs faster and with fewer mistakes. Additionally, when workers are able to find materials quickly and easily, there is less wasted time looking for items or trying to remember where something is located.

Finally, implementing 5S can lead to significant cost savings.

Reducing clutter and waste helps save money on storage costs and keeps purchasing costs down since there is no need to buy more materials than necessary. Additionally, when processes are streamlined and improved through 5S, this also reduces labor costs.

3. How to Get Started with 5S

How to Get Started with 5S
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If you’re aiming to introduce the 5S framework in your business, it can feel intimidating. It’s important to remember that you cannot rush through this process; investing time into effectively planning and executing the method will reap great rewards. Here are a few steps on how to get started with 5S:

  1. Educate: Before you implement the system, make sure everyone in your team is aware of its purpose and goals by having an informational meeting or workshop discussing all of its advantages as well as what implementing it would require from them.
  2. Set Clear-cut Goals: To ensure that everyone is actively striving for the same purpose, create specific and measurable targets to accomplish with 5S.
  3. Design a Strategy: Generate an in-depth plan on how you will execute the 5S system in your working environment. Describe each stage of implementation distinctly, along with timelines for when they ought to be finished.
  4. Gather Your Supplies: Ensure that you have all the tools required for your 5S process, including boxes, labels, sorting aids, and cleaning supplies.
  5. Begin Sorting: Start organizing your workspace by categorizing items such as frequently-used equipment, seldom-used apparatus, or unnecessary possessions. Additionally, construct separate shelves or bins for each item category to make them easily accessible when necessary.
  6. Categorize and Appoint: Assign each item to an exclusive location and label it clearly. This will guarantee that everything is put back in its rightful place after use.
  7. Advance Rules: Develop procedures and routines for how to make use of every element as well as how to clean up afterward, which should be defined precisely and regularly reinforced so everyone knows exactly what’s expected of them.
  8. Monitor Progress: To guarantee that the 5S system is applied suitably and objectives are achieved, keep tabs on your team’s advances on a regular basis. As needed, make changes to ensure that you accomplish targets efficiently and effectively.

Beginning with 5S requires some effort but can result in tremendous benefits when accomplished properly. By adhering to these steps, you can feel confident that you’re taking the appropriate measures to successfully implement an effective 5S procedure within your business.

4. Sustaining the 5S System

Sustaining the 5S System
The 5S System: How To Implement Continual Improvement In Your Business 38

To ensure the longevity of the 5S system’s benefits, active management, and continuous improvement are necessary. Establishing and maintaining clear standards for all personnel, providing sufficient training to support successful execution, as well as regularly assessing the overall performance are key steps in sustaining the advantages of this efficient system. Monitoring must be done on an ongoing basis to recognize weaknesses or potential issues before they become problematic.

Establishing a prosperous 5S system culture is crucial for successful execution and endurance. To accomplish this, businesses must obtain employees’ buy-in by involving them in the process. This involves setting measurable objectives, clarifying the fundamentals of 5S and their importance to everyone involved, as well as maintaining an environment of responsibility.

Organizations should regularly run 5S audits to evaluate their performance and identify areas for improvement. Every element of the organization, including processes, equipment, and staff needs to be taken into consideration in these assessments. Employing a system of checks like this allows progress to be tracked while giving personnel valuable feedback on how they are doing.

To sustain an effective and successful 5S system, organizations must be willing to modify their systems as needed. This involves regularly modifying processes and providing training to keep employees informed on the standards they are required to uphold. Moreover, ongoing dialogue and feedback are essential for maintaining a robust 5S system in the long term. By adhering persistently to these practices, companies can ensure that their 5S programs remain productive.

5. What is the main objective of 5S?

What is the main objective of 5S
The 5S System: How To Implement Continual Improvement In Your Business 39

The 5S system aims to create an orderly, productive workplace, where procedures and processes ease the workload of all staff members. This makes for a great learning environment that promotes continuous improvement by eliminating inefficiency and waste.

Furthermore, it encourages safety measures at work as well as high-quality products or services plus enhanced employee morale. With this approach, long-term success is guaranteed! The 5S system is designed to maximize efficiency, eliminate waste and guarantee the best quality of work. With its successful implementation within an organization, productivity will increase while costs decrease – thus creating a better working environment in no time! 5S plays an imperative role in any company’s ongoing improvement process, and its significance cannot be underestimated.

6. What are the keys to 5S success?

What are the keys to 5S success
The 5S System: How To Implement Continual Improvement In Your Business 40

Key point 1

To ensure that an organization truly benefits from the 5S system in the long run, it is vital to make sure everyone within the company is firmly behind it. T

Key point 1 in 5S
The 5S System: How To Implement Continual Improvement In Your Business 41

hat entails making sure all stakeholders understand and accept how 5S works while also remaining dedicated to following its process and improving upon it over time.

Key point 2

Key point 2 in 5S
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Secondly, the business should create comprehensive goals for its 5S adoption. They must be precise and explicit so that all stakeholders are aware of the desired results from initiating 5S in their organization. Clearly communicating these objectives to everyone involved, will guarantee a successful implementation process.

Key point 3

Key point 3 in 5S
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Thirdly, it is essential that the organization guarantee the adequacy of resources for successfully instituting the 5S system. This comprises having personnel with the required skills and knowledge on board as well as a sufficient financial budget to finance both implementing and continuing the 5S approach.

Key point 4

Key point 4 in 5S
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Fourth, the organization must consistently monitor and assess its progress toward 5S objectives. This can be done by conducting periodic audits and reviews to identify potential areas of improvement. Moreover, it is critical that the business remains devoted to unceasing development; 5S should not simply become a one-time implementation – it requires consistent reflection, review, and fine-tuning for lasting achievement.

5S can fail sometimes due to a lack of employee involvement and buy-in, insufficient training on the system, or a failure to continuously monitor areas for cleanliness, accuracy, and adherence. Additionally, if the system is not properly implemented or sustained, it can be difficult to maintain the necessary standards that allow the system to be successful.

7. Why does 5S fail sometimes?

Why does 5S fail sometimes
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Adopting 5S can be a powerful tool for businesses seeking to maximize their efficiency, yet it requires commitment and proper implementation. Without sufficient training, as well as clear leadership and ownership of the process, implementing 5S could lead to disappointment in productivity levels and morale.

Even if there is support from all stakeholders, any attempt at adopting 5S may not succeed if company objectives are not aligned with its core principles.

Another pitfall of 5S is the misconception that it’s a fleeting, one-time endeavor. In actuality, this system necessitates constant improvement and continued implementation to realize its ideal results – every step requires adherence to ensure lasting success! It’s an ongoing cycle where each stage builds upon the last.

Ultimately, it is key to recognize that 5S should be considered a long-term venture. Companies must discern the advantages over time and build structures that can be preserved easily. Without uniformity, the system will not endure. Thus, businesses ought to commit resources to continuous investment and create an atmosphere conducive to 5S success.

8. What are the 5S best practices?

What are the 5S best practices
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To ensure that your 5S system is successfully implemented and maintained, it’s essential to prioritize communication with all employees about the advantages of utilizing the system. Make sure to provide the necessary tools and training for the effective completion of tasks based on the 5S requirements.

Furthermore, audits should be conducted frequently, and both positive reinforcement and feedback should be given in order to guarantee long-term compliance.

Additionally, areas must be monitored consistently for accuracy, cleanliness, and alignment with standards in order for desired results to be achieved effectively.

9. Who Should Participate in 5S?

Who Should Participate in 5S
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The 5S system should involve all employees in the organization, from top to bottom, as they are essential for its successful implementation and adherence. Everyone needs to understand why the system is important and how it benefits their work environment in order to ensure that goals are met.

Additionally, members of the executive team should be involved in order to provide guidance and support to the organization.

10. Conclusion

5S Conclusion
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For businesses of all sizes, it is critical to embrace the 5S methodology in order to maximize productivity and efficiency, as it is a key component of the Toyota Production System and a core tool in lean manufacturing. The 5S methodology emphasizes the importance of having a visual workplace, which allows for visual management and improved communication. Proper cleaning procedures, floor marking tape, and job cycle charts are just a few of the new practices that can be implemented to improve work processes and work practices.

By incorporating 5S Lean and other lean tools in manufacturing facilities, service businesses, or manufacturing industries, companies can reduce waste, increase efficiency, and improve the overall quality of their products. Incorporating 5S methodology strategies, such as cleaning tools and other techniques, can lead to a safe yet productive work environment that boosts employee morale and satisfies job requirements. By embracing the 5S methodology and integrating lean principles into the workplace, companies can not only optimize their workspaces but also reduce waste to ultimately maximize productivity and positively affect their bottom line.

11. Another question you might have

Another question you might have
The 5S System: How To Implement Continual Improvement In Your Business 49

1) Why is 5S Kaizen important?

Kaizen, a Japanese word that translates to ‘continuous improvement,’ is an imperative element in the successful implementation of 5S. It’s not enough to simply construct the system and forget about it – rather, we have to constantly strive for development and progress within this framework.

Why is 5S Kaizen important
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That’s where Kaizen comes into play; by assessing processes regularly and making adjustments accordingly, organizations are able to ensure optimal efficiency from their 5S systems.

Kaizen seeks to instill a team-oriented atmosphere that encourages active participation in improvement activities. Whether it’s brainstorming sessions, process analysis, root cause analyses, and or data collection – all employees are encouraged to take control of the optimization process so they feel personally involved with its advancement.

At the same time, as colleagues work together to realize improvements within their processes, they also gain valuable insight into how these things function as well as each other’s individual roles within them! Kaizen empowers employees to work together more efficiently, fostering strong relationships and mutual respect.

This system prioritizes a culture of constant improvement, which encourages small but significant modifications that can drastically increase process efficiency.

Combining Kaizen with 5S ensures organizations are always functioning optimally while also providing continuous optimization potential. In summary, this enables teams to reach their goals faster and better!

2) What is 5S in Six Sigma?

What is 5S in Six Sigma
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Six Sigma is an effective business strategy designed to enhance processes and get rid of defects. The 5S system, which emphasizes organization, quality control, productivity, and efficiency, plays a central role in this methodology.

By instituting the 5S system within your company’s operations, you can guarantee that they are running as optimally as possible with maximum output.

Alleviate costly mistakes by utilizing Six Sigma – where the powerful 5S framework lies at its core!

3) What is the difference between 5S and 6S?

What is the difference between 5S and 6S
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The 5S and 6S Lean systems are designed for the purpose of improving operational productivity and efficiency in the workplace. Through arranging, tidying up, and getting rid of unnecessary elements from each room or office space, both procedures offer a straightforward method to ensure that all areas remain straightforwardly organized.

The acronym “5S” stands for Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize & Sustain while “6s” includes an additional ‘Safety’ element alongside these five measurements. Implementing either system is sure to bring about notable changes within your business!

The chief distinction between 5S and 6S is that the latter includes safety as a core principle, focusing on creating an atmosphere of security for workers, customers, and suppliers.

Additionally reducing the potential risk of accidents or contamination by keeping employees trained in following protocols properly, also entails taking sufficient precautions to protect everyone’s well-being. Beyond these differences, other distinctions include:

  • 5S emphasizes the physical elements of a workplace, while 6S looks at both mental and emotional components.
  • Additionally, 5S is primarily concentrated on streamlining processes for greater efficiency; in contrast, 6S is about improving quality and preventing issues before they arise.
  • Lastly, compared to its predecessor 5S which attempts to reduce costs by optimizing resources, 6s entails an extra level by actively curbing potential problems during production stages.

No matter which efficient system you implement in your workplace, it is vital that all facets are considered and comprehended by every employee.

The 5S and 6S methodologies can be powerful tools to reduce clutter, enhance efficiency, increase safety conditions, and optimize the work environment.

4) Is 5S a lean tool?

Is 5S a lean tool
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Yes, 5S is a lean tool. The 5S system was developed in Japan as part of the lean manufacturing movement and is designed to create a safe, productive, and organized environment. This approach involves implementing five principles: Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize and Sustain for increased productivity through continual improvement by eliminating waste & increasing flow. Moreover, this system ensures compliance with regulatory requirements for optimized operations.

5) Why is 5S important to safety?

Why is 5S important to safety
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By cutting out the clutter, your workplace is no longer a hazard-laden environment. With fewer objects that can cause potential trips or falls, and everything having its own designated area with clear labeling, workers will be able to move quickly but safely.

Moreover, 5S is crucial for keeping tools and machines in excellent condition thanks to its systematic approach.

Since it’s an organized system of maintenance and repair, it becomes easier to detect any issues that call for attention so as to prevent potential hazards caused by inadequate upkeep.

This also helps build a culture of safety consciousness since workers are trained on the guidelines of the program while being rewarded for their compliance with such practices.

6) What is 5S assessment?

What is 5S assessment
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Performing a 5S assessment is an effective way to measure the efficacy of your workplace organization process. This review should be done consistently and evaluate many aspects, such as safety, productivity, and quality levels. To ensure an accurate analysis of your system when conducting a 5S assessment, you must remember these key components:

  • Workplace Organization: Are your employees fully embracing the 5S system? Is there unmistakable labeling and color coding in place for better visibility? Are necessary items conveniently accessible to them?
  • Safety: Are employees thoroughly informed of the safety measures in place to protect against potential hazards? Are all security regulations being adhered to without fail?
  • Efficiency: By deploying the 5S system, are we eliminating unnecessary delays and ensuring processes run smoothly? Is there an improvement in productivity?
  • Quality: Are our products up to the highest quality standards?

To ensure that the 5S system is running optimally and that improvements can be made where necessary, 5S assessments are essential. This helps organizations reach their targets with regard to workplace organization, safety, productivity levels, and quality of production.

7) How do you calculate the level 5S in my company?

How do you calculate the level 5S in my company
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Determining the quality of your organization’s 5S program isn’t always straightforward, as every business is different. Nevertheless, there are some general principles that you can use to evaluate how successful your 5S initiative has been.

To initiate the 5S process, begin by assessing your organization’s current level of following each component: Sort (Seiri), Set in Order (Seiton), Shine (Seiso), Standardize (Seiketsu) and Sustain(Shitsuke). Record a baseline score to serve as a reference.

Afterward, assess the effectiveness of each element separately – from implementation to upkeep and updates over time.

Observe any modifications made along the path and document their influence on the overall result for comparison against initial scores.

Finally, add up the total points for all five components to get an overall 5S score. Depending on the size and complexity of your company, you may also want to break down the score into different areas, such as safety, quality, and productivity.

Establishing the 5S score of your organization can be a powerful asset for ongoing improvement. This data will help you recognize areas where there could be more progress or extra resources needed, allowing for continual refinement and growth.

Consistent monitoring and amending of your 5S system are essential to guarantee its prolonged success.

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About the Author

Liviu Prodan

Liviu is an experienced trainer and LifeHacker. He’s been living the ‘Corpo life’ for more than 15 years now and has been a business developer for more than 12 years. His experience brings a lot of relevancy to his space, which he shares on this blog. Now he pursue a career in the Continuous Improvement & Business Development field, as a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt, a path that is coherent with his beliefs and gives him a lot of satisfaction.

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