lean six sigma

A Fundamental Strategy Focusing On…

Continuous Improvement Must Be the Objective for Any Size Business or Organization

How can Lean Six Sigma Help?

Lean Six Sigma (LSS) was designed to drive continuous improvement. In short, Lean Six Sigma is a process improvement strategy that seeks to eliminate inefficiencies in a company’s process flow by identifying the causes of waste or redundancy, and to develop solutions to address them.

By implementing Lean Six Sigma, you have a powerful process improvement strategy that uses the combined benefits of Lean and Six Sigma. Together they are an extremely powerful and proven combination to drive your businesses bottom-line.

Lean Six Sigma facilitates a corporate culture of continuous improvement using the concepts of LEAN and Six Sigma!

What is Lean

The ability to eliminate waste is developed by giving up the belief that there is ‘no other way’ to perform a given task.  It is useless to say, ‘It has to be done that way,’ or
‘This can’t be helped!’

At Toyota, we have found that
there is always another way.”

                                – Study of the Toyota Production System

Briefly explained in our previous article, Lean was designed to focus entirely on eliminating waste and maximizing value to customers, utilizing the lowest possible amount of investment.

In addition to the Lean principle of reducing and eliminating anything that does not deliver value to the customer, the primary goal of Lean is Value Creation in every activity that directly and indirectly create value for the customer.

What Does The Customer Value?

To Think Lean, Always Start with The Customer

How is this accomplished? We need to learn what our customers want and need, and how to eliminate what they don’t want or need by continually improving our Value Stream (Value Stream Map), from beginning to end. To stay ahead of the competition, your business or organization needs to adapt to the continually changing business environment.

Resources that do not create value for the end customer is considered a waste and should be Reduced or Eliminated.

Following are the 7 Wastes that are inherent in EVERY process – the key is the methodology, tools, and techniques to reduce and eliminate them.

  1. Waste of Overproduction – Preparing unneeded reports, multiple reports/copies, or reports not read
  2. Waste of Time (Idle)
  3. Waste in Transportation – Unneeded steps, or documents delivered to each desk or department, travel distance
  4. Waste of Processing – Excessive sign-offs
  5. Waste of Stock on Hand (Inventory) – Transactions waiting to be processed
  6. Waste of Movement (Worker) – Unneeded data entry, extra steps
  7. Waste of Making Defective Products – Incorrect data entry

There are five key Lean principles that focus on improving process inefficiencies, process performance, and services that help you respond efficiently and effectively to customer needs based on what customers value. principles: value, value stream, process flow, time to market pull, and vigilant perfection.

1. Value
Value is always defined by the customer’s needs:

  • Price, delivery time, service and product expectations and requirements.

2. Value Stream Map (The “Value Stream Map” is invaluable).
Value stream mapping is a Lean management tool that creates a detailed visualization of all the steps in your work process. It’s a representation of the flow of your goods from the supplier to the customer.

Value Stream Mapping (VSM) is one of the most powerful lean tools that is used by businesses and organizations to identify every process that does not create value and find ways to eliminate those wasteful steps.

Going through this process will provide you with a better understanding of the entire business operation.

3. Process Flow
After completing and removing the non-value-added steps in the value stream map, it’s extremely important to ensure the process flows smoothly, avoiding delays, and bottlenecks. The ultimate goal is to make sure the product or services flow smoothly to the customer.

This may require breaking down silo thinking and making the effort to become cross-functional across all departments, which can be one of the greatest challenges for lean programs to overcome.

A Very Simplified” Doctor Visit” Value Stream Map

4. Time to Market Pull
the 4th Lean principle is to establish a pull system. This means start new work only when there is a demand for it.   The main objective should be to produce and deliver products as needed to avoid overproduction, excess inventory and added expense.

This saves money for both the manufacturer, business, provider, and the customer.

5. Perfection
The ultimate goal of a company becoming Lean is to achieve and maintain perfection, meaning a company completely free of waste and inefficiencies. Business leaders who apply Lean methodology adopt a mindset of continuous improvement in processes. Seeking perfection is the driver of continuous improvement. Without Perfection, there is not continuous process improvement and the gains you made are eventually lost.

You will never reach perfection, but you should always seek to get there!

It’s important to remember that lean is not a static system, it requires constant effort and vigilance.  Focus within your company to an extent, you should be constantly looking for waste or loss that you need to address to get closer to the journey of perfection.

There are several Lean tools available to assist you in your pursuit for Lean Perfection, such as 5s, 5 whys, and Value Stream Mapping, just to name a few.

All these tools and many more are included in the Lean Six Sigma On-Line Training Course as part of your subscription to the “Journal of Applied Business Statistics”.

Every Topic included in the Lean Six Sigma On-Line Training Course Journal is detailed, user-friendly, and certifiable, with interactive support.

In our next Lean Six Sigma article, we will cover

Six Sigma in further detail.