This article is an introduction to Lean Six Sigma, a process management tool, and the benefits it can bring to you, both at work and in your personal life. This series will look into the various strategies commonly used in problem solving.
Lean Six Sigma is a continuous improvement methodology that can be used to simplify business processes. The goal is an improved process, product or service that better meets customer expectations. A project success is declared when waste and variation are eliminated or reduced and customer value is enhanced.
Most organisations strive for the same outcome, which is to make a profit. These can usually be done by having fewer errors, higher quality and faster processes that eventually lower overhead costs.
Lean Lean was developed as part of the Toyota Production System and focused on the concepts of continuous improvement with the approach of being a set of tools that assist in the identification and elimination of waste. As Toyota was a large scale, high quantity production company, it was imperative that waste be brought to a minimum.
There are three types of waste: Muda: Non-value added work: pure waste Mura: Unevenness in flow – unpredictable variation Muri: Over-burdening resources – issues that cause work to stop
Six Sigma During the late 1970s, Six Sigma was first developed by Bill Smith, a senior quality engineer at Motorola. The goal was to improve the way the quality and measurement systems worked so as to eliminate errors.
There are five phases to Lean Six Sigma (you would have thought there would be six). The five phases are represented by the acronym DMAIC – which stands for Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, Control. Process analysis tools and techniques are often associated when trying to describe the process and better understand efficiency.
The combination of Lean and Six Sigma looks at the processes in which high error rates such as scrap and rework can be redesigned in order to avoid customer dissatisfaction.
Lean Six Sigma is one of the most powerful problem-solving and continuous improvement methodologies as it focuses on identifying the characteristics of the real problem. One way to look at it is the assumption that every problem has a unique or special cause, and if that cause can be identified and eliminated or controlled, the problem goes away. Another perspective is to start with the assumption that the problem is a common occurrence within the process. If either of these presents itself as true, then the process is clearly flawed or inadequate and if this were to be changed, or be avoided, the problem therefore goes away.
The wonderful thing is, once you begin to understand the tools used in Lean Six Sigma, finding ways you can implement them in your personal life works just as well as work related issues.
As an improvement and cost reduction process, Lean Six Sigma are very powerful quality improvement tools but they must be used appropriately. Remember, lean focuses on improving the flow in the value stream and eliminating waste. Six Sigma focuses on eliminating defects and reducing variation in processes. Therefore, we can say that Lean looks at reducing costs and Six Sigma is more focused on giving value to the customer by keeping things consistent. It is important to determine what the problem is before looking into the different tools that fall under each process.