How Good Are You As An Organization? How Good Do You Want To Be?

Posted by on Apr 23, 2014 in Continuous Improvement, Lean, Lean Six Sigma, Process Improvement | 0 comments

Thinker 1 FINALOver the years, much has been written about the pros and cons of lean and Six Sigma.  People often complain about the training costs, the infrastructure required, the teams of green and black belts, and so on, but in my 40+ years of experience nothing has proven to be more successful at getting things improved than a combination of lean and Six Sigma.  I’m not talking about ten, twenty, or thirty percent improvement, but substantial improvement of sixty to seventy percent or greater!  It doesn’t matter what the process is!  It can be manufacturing, finance, health care, insurance, telecommunications, you name it and it can be improved using the tools and techniques of lean and Six Sigma.

I’ll be honest and admit it does take commitment, dedication, and an organization that continuously drives improvement.  But isn’t that why you were put in charge of running the business?  Isn’t it the responsibility of leaders and managers to strive to make processes more efficient and continuously improve customer satisfaction?

The tools and techniques are simple and straight forward.  Nothing is very complicated.  From a Six Sigma perspective, it basically boils down to understanding what causes variability in your organization and being able to collect and analyze process data.  Lean on the other hand, concentrates on the identification and elimination of process waste, i.e., those things that don’t add any value to your organization or the customer.  Nothing can be much simpler than making products, processes, and services more consistent and adding more value for your customers.

The infrastructure to support a Lean Six Sigma initiative requires some consideration.  There’s an old adage that says, “you get out of something what you put into it” and that certainly applies to a Lean Six Sigma effort.  Leadership needs to understand the tools and techniques and their role in facilitating the process.  They must understand the benefit of toll gate reviews and know what questions to ask to guide the project teams.  They must also guide the teams in selecting projects that will benefit the organization.  Never forget, this is a management initiative and projects should be assigned that will move the organization in the required direction.

Projects can vary depending on the organization.  Some organizations may struggle with product or service quality and delivery, others may have processes with too much complexity or simply take too long to get things done.  The point is that a combination of the lean and Six Sigma tools can solve just about any issue an organization may have.

Training costs can vary.  My recommendation is to find a training provider that has experience in your processes and isn’t interested in making your employees statistical wizards.  A simple tool set, especially in the beginning of implementation, can improve many processes and solve a multitude of problems.  Keep it simple and concentrate on the coordination of teams and the basic infrastructure needed to have a successful implementation.

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