There are five 5S phases: They can be translated from the Japanese as "sort", "straighten", "shine", "standardize", and "sustain". Other translations are possible. The list describes how to organize a work space for efficiency and effectiveness by identifying and storing the items used, maintaining the area and items, and sustaining the new order. The decision-making process usually comes from a dialogue about standardization, which builds understanding among employees of how they should do the work.
5S was developed in Japan and was identified as one of the techniques that enabled Just in Time manufacturing.
Two major frameworks for understanding and applying 5S to business environments have arisen, one proposed by Osada, the other by Hirano. Hirano provided a structure for improvement programs with a series of identifiable steps, each building on its predecessor.