The result of the Lean business strategy is a business that:
- Is more focused on the customer
- Is more efficient
- Generates more revenue
When your business uses Lean principles, your business will be much better positioned to remain competitive in your industry well into the future. As costs for your competitors continue to rise, yours will go down!
What is Six Sigma
The Six Sigma business model originated in 1986 with Motorola. Since then, it has been used in thousands of businesses across the world, in every industry imaginable and has saved those organizations billions of dollars.
While the focus of a Lean project and culture is to reduce the “waste” in a process, the focus of the Six Sigma strategy is on quality.
In most cases, poor quality is the result of too many variables within the process that are uncontrolled. The result is a wide variation in quality.
A Six Sigma project will reduce the variables, called “defects”, so the quality of your product or service is consistently what you expect.
- Identify the components of the process that are causing you problems, i.e. the defects
- Develop solutions to control and reduce those defects
- Implement the best solution
Six Sigma Results
When you use the Six Sigma principles for your project, your business will be able to deliver your products or services that are consistently of the same quality.
A business that operates from a Six Sigma perspective will see:
- Greater customer satisfaction
- Increased revenue for your business
- More focus on quality from all employees, not just the Quality Control department
Benefits of Lean Six Sigma
Organizations all over the world are faced with rising costs and increased competition. As a business owner, you have two choices:
- Raise prices (which will cost you customers)
- Get better
The Lean Six Sigma improvement strategy used by Strategic Lean Consulting is the most effective way to get better. When you make the decision to control your future through the implementation of Lean Six Sigma practices will realize the following benefits:
Your business will be able to:
- Do more, with less
- Become faster and more efficient
- Improve quality, which results in happier customers
Your costs will be reduced in two ways:
- Less waste – This is the strategy of reviewing the process and removing or reorganizing anything that isn’t necessary from the perspective of the customer
- Fewer defects – This is the strategy of identifying the problems that affect quality and reducing them. The result is less waste and improved customer satisfaction
The result is a leaner organization that maximizes all of the business resources you have available.
The efficiency of your business will be reduced by the following:
- Streamlined processes
- More focus on the end result
- Better use of resources that have been freed up
In addition to the widely discussed benefits listed above, there are additional benefits for your employees.
When employees are engaged in the process, they develop an increased sense of responsibility and accountability.
Your employees will:
- Be more engaged because they will be involved in the improvement process
- Develop a higher level of accountability
- Feel an increased sense of responsibility
- Build more trust by having their role acknowledged as playing a crucial roll in the success of your business
The employee development benefits of a Lean Six Sigma culture will provide your organization with benefits far into the future. Your employees will develop a sense of ownership and accountability. This will allow them to continue to focus on delivering results and searching out additional process improvements in other facets of your business.
How Does Lean Six Sigma Work
If your only experience with Lean and Six Sigma is in theory, you may have heard that it is intimidating, confusing and very difficult to implement.
The reality is that the Lean Six Sigma process is based on common sense principles that are clear and can be implemented in any size business, in any type of industry.
There are 5 basic phases in the Lean Six Sigma process, known as DMAIC:
Lean Six Sigma is much more than a one time project. Your staff will have the ability to implement the DMAIC management process on the dozens of other processes within your organization.
Define the Problem and Identify What the Customer Requires The focus of this first phase is on creating a high level overview of the process and beginning to understand the detailed needs of the customer. This critical phase of the project will be carried out by the project leaders.
The concept of driving the project based on the needs of the customer is what separates Lean Six Sigma from the other process improvement strategies.
Other strategies focus on streamlining your organization, usually at the expense of the customer. Lean Six Sigma is about streamlining your business by placing more focus on your customers.
Some of the results of this phase are:
- Creating a Problem Statement
- Defining your Goal Statement
- Creating maps of the process
- Defining customer requirements
Measure and Collect Data
The second phase of the Lean Six Sigma improvement process is focused on defining how the process currently performs.
Collecting key data is another key component that separates the Lean Six Sigma methodology from other popular process improvement techniques.
Data collections results in decisions that are based on facts, not the (sometimes) biased opinion of an employee or the way someone remembers it.
Collecting the right data is essential to the positive outcome of any project. The data is collected with the goal to:
- Develop a baseline to measure future improvements
- Identify the root causes of problems within the process
Analyze and Identify the Real Cause of Each Problem
During the third phase of the implementation of the Lean Six Sigma strategy, the team analyzes the data to see what it reveals.
Process maps and data are analyzed to:
- Brainstorm and identify the real cause of the problem
- Determine if additional data collection is needed
- Identify the areas of waste and defects that must be corrected
Improve By Implementing a Fix to Solve the Problem
The focus of this phase is to determine how the problem will be fixed and to implement the best solution. This entails brainstorming multiple possible solutions to review. The best option is selected and an implementation plan is developed. Then the plan is carried out.
The final portion of the Improve phase is to measure the results against the initial data that was collected to determine the amount of improvement that has been realized.
Implement Controls so the Improved Results Can Be Sustained
The final phase of implementing the Lean Six Sigma process and culture is to ensure there are controls in place to sustain the improvements.
This involves ensuring the process is being effectively managed and monitored going forward and it involves passing on many of these critical items to the employees.
Throughout the initial Lean Six Sigma project an infrastructure has been built that involves data collection, analysis and control. This infrastructure can be reallocated to many other processes within your organization. Your company will continue down the road and will follow lean, streamlined, cost effective procedures in all facets of your organization.
Who Benefits from Lean Six Segma
In a word… anyone with a business can benefit from Lean Six Sigma.
If you have a business, Lean Six Sigma can make you a better business. Although large corporations are the most well known users of the Lean Six Sigma strategy, it can be used in any business, regardless of the size.
In fact, smaller businesses can sometimes see a greater benefit due to the lower volume of red-tape and fewer people. These smaller businesses have fewer people who have to get on board with a change, which means they can make decisions and make changes more quickly.
The main benefit of a Lean Six Sigma project is monetary, but that is far from the only benefit you will see. If you have employees, they will benefit from implementing a Lean Six Sigma culture into your organization.
People all across the organization will become more engaged and invested in their work once Lean Six Sigma has been implemented. These are the people who are in the best position to understand how to make a process more efficient and effective.
Their involvement in the Lean Six Sigma process will increase both their confidence and their accountability. They will become the most important asset of your entire organization.
This understanding that they have had a positive impact on the organization will continue to grow long after the initial project is completed and it will have a positive impact on your entire organization.