Dance 411 Studios: Proof that Being Lean Isn’t Just for Large or Japanese Companies

DFS-LogoDance 411 Studios (DFS) is the largest dance studio in the Southeast. What originated as a local e-newsletter to share events, job opportunities and provide a support network for dancers has evolved into a highly sought after international dance empire. I had the opportunity to work with DFS a few years ago and remember being struck by this American company that seemed to operate with Japanese management practices, in particular the 5S program – a rare, but very refreshing change from the over-consumption and materialism that often plagues American companies.

In The Toyota Way, Jeffrey Liker shares that, “In Japan there are ‘5S programs’ that comprise a series of activities for eliminating wastes that contribute to errors, defects, and injuries in the workplace.” Eliminating waste is just one of the many contributing factors to creating a truly lean enterprise.

The 5S Program is the brainchild of lean manufacturing guru, Taiichi Ohno. The 5S’s stand for Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu and Shitsuke – all Japanese words, each of which is explained in detail in the following pages as a principle along with how to apply it and example benefits.

Three words come to mind whenever I think of DFS’ operations: lean, clean and green. 5S is just one of the lean initiatives implemented at DFS. Their offices, storage rooms and studios are all immaculate and their green initiatives include various paperless systems for processing information. This article explores how DFS implements the 5S program. Click through to each page to learn how you can apply these techniques to your small business.

Sindy Schneider, founder and co-owner of Dance 411 Studios, took time to share operational tips with other entrepreneurs starting with "a strong passion for dance" as a key ingredient for their success. Photo from interview clip - copyright 2012, Equilibria, Inc.

Sindy Schneider, founder and co-owner of Dance 411 Studios, took time to share operational tips with other entrepreneurs starting with “a strong passion for dance” as a key ingredient for their success. Photo from interview clip – copyright 2012, Equilibria, Inc.

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