Development and Testing of the 5S Puzzle Game

Rajeswari Obulam1 & Zofia K. Rybkowski2

1Graduate student, Department of Construction Science, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, 77843 USA, o: (979) 845-4354, [email protected],
2Associate Professor, Department of Construction Science, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, 77843 USA, o: (979) 845-4354, [email protected],


Lean methods were originally developed in the manufacturing industry in the early 20th century to reduce the use of resources that did not contribute to added value. In the 1990’s, there was steady growth in a movement to replicate the successes of manufacturing in the construction industry. By effectively deploying lean methods on the construction site, material and human labor that was expended with no increase in the value of the constructed work can either be reduced or reapplied to increase value. The 5S methodology was originally developed in Japan and implemented by Toyota. The 5S system is a type of visual management tool used to handle and maintain workplace organization and efficiency. The 5S method has been adopted by lean thought leaders to improve productivity by more rigorously organizing the workplace via five sequential steps: sort, set in order, shine, standardize, and sustain. Inspired by a popular participatory simulation to introduce players to 5S, this “5S Puzzle game” simulation was created to present the topic in a way that is more aligned with the way construction companies practice. This simulation was developed to be administered on-line in either of two ways: (1) with a single individual, or (2) with up to 4 players. The puzzle session consists of five rounds, each representing one of the S’s that help a player progress from low levels of efficiency to maximally efficient processes. The stated goal of the simulation is to complete the puzzle. The actual goal is to help players experience an “aha” moment by quantifying the impact of each successive step as the player(s) progress through each round.


Construction sector, serious game, simulation, 5S, continuous improvement.



Obulam, R. & Rybkowski, Z. K. 2021, 'Development and Testing of the 5S Puzzle Game' In:, Proc. 29th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction (IGLC). Lima, Peru, 14-16 Jul 2021. pp 309-319

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