Lean is a systematic approach to reduce or eliminate activities that don't add value to the process. It emphasizes removing wasteful steps in a process and taking the only value-added steps. The Lean method ensures high quality and customer satisfaction.
The aim of Six Sigma is to make a process effective with - 99.99996 % defect-free. This means a six sigma process produces 3.4 defects per million opportunities or less as a result. Six Sigma is a structured problem-solving methodology. Problem-solving in Six Sigma is done using the DMAIC framework. There are five stages in this framework(Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control)
Lean Six Sigma is a fact-based, data-driven philosophy of improvement that values defect prevention over defect detection. It drives customer satisfaction and bottom-line results by reducing variation, waste, and cycle time while promoting the use of work standardization and flow, thereby creating a competitive advantage. It applies anywhere variation and waste exist, and every employee should be involved
As a Lean Six Sigma Consulting firm, our Quality Management System Consultants are here to support your organization. Please contact us for our free evaluation and competitive quote.
An organized and well-stocked workplace is essential in the quest to eliminate variation. The technique involves doing 5 things that all start with S in both English and Japanese. They consist of seiri (sort), seiton (set), seiso (shine), seiketsu (standardize), and shitsuke (sustain).
Standard work is the documentation of the best practices for any process or task at that given moment. It is created and updated by the people who do the work. It forms the baseline for improvement and ensures process consistency. Standard Work Documentation MUST:
A. Reflects Reality
It's not enough to come up with the best way to do something and write it down; you also have to make sure that the new standard you've come up with actually occurs in real life. If the standard work on the books doesn’t reflect the work as it is being done on the front lines today, it isn't actually standard work. If the standard work isn't followed, leaders need to ask "why?" as part of a daily lean management system. Was the training not good enough? Are there legitimate barriers that get in the way of doing things the right way?
B. Up To Date
Processes tend to change over time, so it is important to revisit, re-document, and recommit to standard work frequently. It's possible that people are forgetting the improvement...but it's also possible that they've improved it since you last looked. Standard work documents are living documents and you need a process for turning a Kaizen improvement into a new version of the standard work. And, thinking back to point #1, you have to make sure everybody adopts the new standard.
C. Complete & Accurate
Every material and critical part of the work must be considered and documented. Otherwise, you can get a false sense of security, but still produce inconsistent results and introduce waste. Incomplete standard work is often the result of process changes over time, so see #1. Don't worry about documenting every minute detail, but be sure you've documented the things that matter for safety, quality, and other key outcomes. The initial work that goes into creating the standard is essential to its usefulness. If the correct current best practices aren’t uncovered and used for the standard, there isn’t much point to the exercise at all.
If the standard work cannot be understood by those doing the work (and by those managing the work), it can’t be executed correctly. It should be in an easy to understand format with visuals, where applicable. Sometimes a diagram tells a thousand words, to modify the old cliché.
While it must be complete, it should stick to the relevant information and be free from long form commentary, industry jargon or instructions that have no real impact on the results of the work. Or, maybe we should have just said, "Be concise." :-)
Don’t get overwhelmed with standard work, get started. If you produce documentation that meets these benchmarks, you’ll have the perfect platform for consistency, quality, and ongoing continuous improvement.
The Japanese word “Gemba” means the real place. During a Gemba walk, the manager goes to the place where work is done to show respect for the employees, ask questions, and potentially identify opportunities for improvement.
Hoshin Kanri, otherwise called Policy Deployment, is a strategic planning approach designed to align the organization and ensure that everyone is working toward the same goals. The approach balances the need to achieve daily incremental improvement while moving toward the organization’s three to five-year breakthrough objectives at the same time.
Kanban is a visualizing principle based on maximizing the flow of goods and work without unnecessary inventory or transportation. While initially used with physical cards at Toyota, Kanban has now moved to the cloud, and many organizations use digital Kanban boards to track the flow of work.
A process control chart is a graph used to track how a process behaves over time. Data points are plotted in time order in a chart with a central line for the average (sometimes a median), an upper line for the upper control limit, and a lower line for the lower control limit. Process control charts help leaders avoid panicking over every up and downswing. They circumvent problems caused by only looking at average results, instead of the variations of results.
Despite excellent control, sometimes problems will happen, or opportunities for improvement will be identified. In that case, one or more of the following Six Sigma tools can be deployed.
A3 it is a structured problem-solving approach that gets its name from the size of paper that was used before digital tools became available. An A3 report is the result of an improvement cycle like DAMIC or PDSA.
The 5 Whys is a brilliantly simple method of getting to the root cause of a problem. By asking and answering the question “why?”, the basis of a problem can usually be found in five iteration
DMAIC is a five-phase improvement cycle; define, measure, analyze, improve, and control. It brings structure to the improvement process and makes sure that each change is based on careful analysis and useful data. It starts with the Standard Work and repeats whenever a new opportunity for improvement is identified.
The first step is to clearly identify the discrete business issue and set walls around the scope of the improvement effort. It is necessary to document as much detail about the issue and the current state of the process as possible. This step also involves deciding what success looks like. Many teams use formal project charters to document this data and share the plan.
Improvement work should have a measurable impact. Quantifying the results requires that both the baseline and the post-improvement results be calculated. Doing so allows you to make a comparison between the past and future to validate your success. Organizations should decide which key performance indicators (KPIs) will be used to measure results. Someone should be made responsible for measurement, and the frequency of the calculations determined.
Now that you have the data, a root-cause analysis can begin to uncover the fundamental reason for the business problem. Value stream mapping and the 5-whys can be very valuable at this stage. Remember that many problems have more than one root cause. The focus should be kept on causes, not symptoms (and never blame). This analysis will prepare the team to come up with a plan for improvement.
You’ll notice that the improve step comes only after thorough measurement and thoughtful analysis. Before making changes, it is necessary to communicate the improvement plan along with any identified risks and mitigation strategies. Think of each improvement effort as an experiment, paying close attention to the results and any unforeseen consequences.
The final step in DMAIC is one that is often overlooked. The object of the control step is to ensure that improvement successes last and don’t degrade with time. At this point, it is also useful for the team to think about whether this improvement might be applied to additional problems or if information about the effort might be useful to other parts of the organization. At this point, the final Standard Work is approved and long-term measurement plans are in place.
PDSA is an alternative improvement cycle that stands for Plan, Do, Study, Act. It is a simplified version of DMAIC that works best for improvement projects that are not heavy on statistics.
Stage 1: Plan
Assemble a Team
Recruit a team with knowledge of the problem or opportunity for improvement. Identify roles and responsibilities, establish timelines, and develop a meeting schedule.
There are three fundamental questions that must be answered:
- What are we trying to accomplish?
- How will we judge improvements?
- What changes can we make?
Understand the Current Process
An understanding of the current system is vital to process improvement. Creating a process flow can be particularly helpful in finding where in the system the problem occurs, allowing the team to narrow its focus.
Understand the Problem
State your goals and use the gathered data to measure how well those goals are or are not being met. If more than one problem has been identified, explicitly prioritizing them helps to keep the team’s attention where it is most needed.
You need to identify the causes of the problem, and any alternatives to the current process. Compare the alternative processes to find the one(s) that will be best able to help efficiently reach your goals.
Design an Action Plan
Your plan of action should include necessary staff and resources, as well as a timeline. It should also account for any risks that might be faced by the plan’s implementation.
Choose an alternative (or a few alternatives) that you believe will best help you reach your objective and maximize your resources.
Develop an action plan, including necessary staff/resources and a timeline. Account for any risks from implementation of the plan.
Stage 2: Do
Implement your action plan, being sure to gather data along the way. Make sure you document all issues and unexpected side effects.
Stage 3: Study
Compare the data gathered during Stage 2 with your goals. Establish whether or not the change resulted in an improvement, and measure the extent of any improvements. Check for unintended side effects and determine if they were positive or negative effects.
Stage 4: Adjust
If the change was not as successful as you had hoped, or if the team believes that a different change would be a better improvement, return to Stage 1 and develop a new plan of action.
If the change was determined to be a success, standardize the improvement. After some time, you can return to Stage 1 and investigate the process to see how it can be further improved.
The Six Sigma technique of Catchball involves passing ideas from one person to another for feedback and action. The idea (ball) is set in motion when someone defines a challenge or opportunity. It then moves back and forth, up and down, or both until a plan is developed and agreed upon
It is important to choose the right Six Sigma consultant the first time around as choosing the wrong person can be a costly mistake. Not only will it cost you time and money but it could cause your employees to lose faith in you.
On the opposite end, choosing the right Six Sigma consultant could help you transform your business and save you thousands of dollars in the process.
As we’ve mentioned before, consultants are removed from the office politics of an organization. This means they can approach problems with a fresh outsider’s perspective that can be helpful.
It is possible for business owners to implement changes within their organization but the right Six Sigma consultant may be the best person to lead this effort. Here are four suggestions for choosing the right Six Sigma consultant:
This may sound like obvious advice, but if you don’t know what you are looking for then you are unlikely to find it. On the flip side, you may end up with someone who is the opposite of what you were looking for.
Before you begin to interview Six Sigma consultants really take some time to think about what specific needs your company has. What qualities are you looking for in a Six Sigma consultant?
A good professional relationship should be based on shared values and mutual respect.
For that reason, it is important that you choose someone who can fit in well with your company’s culture. Employees are often very resistant to change so it is a good idea to hire a consultant who will be able to relate to them.
Find out what that person’s general strategies are to solving problems and approaching employee resistance. It is important to choose someone with good communication skills who will be able to effectively communicate what they are doing and why it is important.
It is important to point out that this should not turn into a fishing expedition or an excuse to procrastinate.
You don’t need to interview hundreds of Six Sigma consultants and it should not take years to find the right person. You’re choosing Six Sigma consultant to maximize your time, not waste more of it so try to search smarter, not harder.
That being said, you should interview a variety of people until you have a sense of who will be the right person for your company.
The best way to get an idea of who someone is is to talk to other people they have worked with. Talk to other business owners that person has worked with and get their feedback. If enough other respected professionals feel that that person is reliable, honest, and trustworthy then you can probably feel good about hiring them.
Copyright © 2022 Management System Group - All Rights Reserved.