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

#5. Shitsuke (Sustain)

What it Means
“Built to last”.

That is, take the time to build a foundation or business infrastructure that supports your organization’s growth without compromising customer and staff loyalty. Shitsuke is the last of the 5S program and it means “sustain.” It is both the culmination of all the hard work that went into sorting, straightening, shining and standardizing and also the trigger to starting another round of a future, more advanced level of 5S.

5S Program Diagram. Copyright Sati Star.
5S Program Diagram. Copyright Sati Star.

Shitsuke is also the most difficult stage to achieve since it can involve a culture change depending on how dramatic the effects of the 5S program are in an organization. To “sustain” does not mean “this is the end;” rather, it is a conduit for continuous improvement. If documenting processes are a part of standardizing work, then developing check-in points and tracking/monitoring systems to make sure standards are being met (or need to be refined) is what sustainability is all about.

How Dance 411 Studios Applies It

In my opinion, one of DFS’ most admirable qualities is its genchi genbutsu management style. Genchi Genbutsu is a Japanese phase that means “go and see for yourself”. The owners all recognize that the best way to improve their company is by rolling up their proverbial sleeves and not being afraid to get their hands dirty when they are in fact finding and problem solving mode. Although they have managers in place to make sure important tasks don’t fall through the cracks in their absence, they do not exclude their experiential observations.

As an example, co-founder, Ed Schneider, makes it a priority to track and monitor the success of every technology incorporated into DFS’ processes. He not only relies on web-based analytical and survey tools but also interacts with people in DFS’ entire value chain including: customers, instructors, staff, vendors, media representatives and outsourced consultants. This 360 degree feedback approach enables DFS to stay ahead of the curve when balancing their efforts to provide a clean and safe facility with a facility that is backed by strong, efficient processes.

Documented processes ensure consistent, sustainable results at Dance 411 Studios. Copyright 2011 Equilibria, Inc.
Documented processes ensure consistent, sustainable results at Dance 411 Studios. Copyright 2011 Equilibria, Inc.


  • Owner’s commitment is highly visual. The owners of DFS are inventor-entrepreneurs. This is important to know because there are many American companies where most employees have only seen a picture of the owners or founders of the company. By making themselves visible, DFS’ staff (and customers) know that the owners have not only invested their money into ensuring the company’s success, but they prove their commitment through the time they each invest being onsite and personally talking to staff and customers.
  • Sustainability driven by customer’s experience and employee feedback. Talk is not cheap at DFS. Management listens to all feedback and collectively decides whether to improve or change operations as necessary.
  • Digestible change for high end-user adoption rate. Change, especially major, paradigm-shifting change does not occur overnight at DFS. Rather, most changes occur incrementally each going through the 5S program cycle to ensure it is discussed with and understood by all affected.



  1. Dance 411 Studios – Project and Interview Materials. Equilibria, Inc.
  2. Dance Kids ATL. The Learning Channel (TLC).
  3. The Toyota Way. Jeffrey Liker. University of Michigan.
  4. Lean Six Sigma Green Belt (ch. 44) Pamela D. Gladwell. Purdue University.
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