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

#1. Seiri (Sort)

What it Means
“Waste not, want not”.

That is, do not keep things around that are wasteful, unnecessary and technologically obsolete. In the business world, the Japanese refer to the process of sorting through items such as excess inventory, dated or unused assets and paper mounds as “seiri”. The purpose of sorting through items is to identify items that either do not add to the value of the customer’s experience or actually stifle or prohibit it and remove it from the work environment. In America, many refer to this process as “decluttering”.

How Dance 411 Studios Applies It
DFS went through a major physical organizational effort to align their long term growth goals with their very real short term needs for more space. They believed that, through seiri, they could literally free up space that is consumed by items that either did not belong in their facility or were no longer needed and use it to accommodate more students and new staff.

They were right.

The Sorting Process at Dance 411 Studios. Copyright 2011 Equilibria, Inc.
The Sorting Process at Dance 411 Studios. Copyright 2011 Equilibria, Inc.

DFS impressively corralled their staff of dancers, instructors, summer interns and administrative personnel to assist with several sessions to sort through papers, digital files, equipment and tools and identify each item as “keep,” “donate,” “take offsite,” and “trash/shred”. Special sections of their overall facility were dedicated to temporarily housing the newly categorized items.

About 45 days later, DFS had effectively sorted through every single office and storage room. Go to page 3 to find out what happened next.


  • Improved assessment of value-added inventory (from the customer’s perspective). DFS got rid of anything that slowed down, prevented or added no value to their ability to efficiently service their students and members.
  • Built-in accountability. By having their own staff assist with the sorting process, DFS ensured their buy in going forward in preventing inventory build-up and overall clutter.
  • Postponed a major real estate investment. The sorting process allowed DFS to save money in the short-term since they did not have to immediately invest in new studio and office space. This also bided them more time to strategically analyze and prepare for their next real estate investment.
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