LEAN SIX SIGMA METHODOLOGY

LEAN PROCESS IMPROVEMENT

What is it?

 

‘Lean’ is a continuous process improvement philosophy and methodology designed to deliver maximum ‘Customer Value’ while minimizing ‘waste’. First developed and applied by the legendary Taichi Ohno at Toyota, Japan, Lean Manufacturing principles focused on understanding ‘Value’ from the point of view of the ‘Customer’ and designing the upstream fulfilment processes (Delivery, Assembly, Manufacturing, Procurement, Design) to ensure delivery of ‘customer value’. Any process or activity that did not contribute to customer value creation were identified as ‘wastes’ and hence needed to be eliminated. This led to the ability of firms to do more (customer value) with less (resources)

Lean principles were first successfully applied in the manufacturing sector in the 1980s and 1990s. Over time, ‘Lean’ successfully found its way into service industries as well, since the basic tenets of ‘identifying customer value’ and ‘elimination of all non-value adding activities’ could be equally applied to organizations providing services.

Lean is not a methodology or a set of tools to reduce costs. It is a way of thinking and acting for the entire organization

 

Why does it Matter?

Although clichéd but always an absolute truth, ‘Change is the only constant’. Our business environments are changing rapidly owing to changing customer preferences, competition, technology, government regulations so on and so forth. Organizations have to constantly understand the change facing them and adopt their value delivery processes to meet the new requirements. A continuous focus on process improvement is thus required to survive and sustain in today’s world. ‘Lean’ provides the philosophy, framework and the set of tools for organization to be able to do so.

 

When do I use it?

‘Lean’ is a philosophy and hence is for organizations to adopt as a new way of thinking. It is applicable for all organizations, irrespective of industry, size or growth stage. Once adopted, organizations enter a virtuous cycle of continuous improvement where all employees and stakeholders are focused on doing what is ‘right’ for the customer and aggressively eliminating all activities that are acting as bottlenecks or wastes to provide the right value.

 

How can 1Team Consulting help?

Our team has years of experience driving lean initiatives across industries and demonstrating significant business outcomes. We help organizations understand the need for adopting lean in their specific context, build up awareness on lean philosophy and methodologies through training and hand hold organizations to apply lean principles in specific areas of their businesses until the time the time that adherence and belief in the lean philosophy becomes part of their DNA.

 

SIX SIGMA

What is it?

Six Sigma is a methodology and set of tools to achieve process consistency and quality. ighly disciplined process that helps us focus on developing and delivering near-perfect products and services. It is essentially a statistical technique that measures how far the process is from ‘perfect’ performance.

The origin of six sigma can be traced back to the Statistical Process Control Techniques first introduced by the American Statistician Shewhart in early 1900s at Bell Telephones in the USA, and later popularized by its application in the manufacturing sector in Japan by Joseph M. Juran and Edward W. Deming. Bill Smith, an engineer at Motorola was the first to introduce the term ‘Six Sigma’ as a process improvement initiative in mid 80s. However it was Jack Welch’s sponsorship of the methodology at GE in the mid-90s that helped six sigma gain universal popularity across industrial sectors worldwide.

In its simplest form a process that adheres to Six Sigma quality produces no more than 3.4 defects per million opportunities (DPMO). To take an example, that would mean in a car assembly line only 3.4 cars out of every MILLION cars produced will have a defect. That’s high process consistency and high quality! It’s important to understand that Six Sigma is a journey. Its goal is to improve processes and directionally strive to attain the end goal of six sigma quality.

Central to Six Sigma is its 5 step DMAIC methodology – Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, Control, as explained below:

  • Define – Defining the problem, focusing on the process to be improved and establishing clear project charter and goals

  • Measure – Calculating the as-is state and current process capability level in terms of quantitative process metrics

  • Analyse – Analysing the process to determine cause and effect relationships and to seek out the root cause of defect

  • Improve – Creating new ‘to-be’ processes by using process design methodologies that eliminates errors and improves process quality

  • Control – Implementing control systems that monitors the new processes and sets up early warnings to ensure that the defects are corrected before they recur.

Why does it Matter?

In our fiercely competitive world of today, there is zero tolerance for errors or defects. Quality is no longer an Order Winning criteria. It is a table stake, the bare minimum that an organization must have to obtain a seat at the negotiating table. Process variations leading to poor quality also has high costs with its resultant impact on margins.

 

So, in today’s world a continuous focus on process improvement through a rigorous method such as Six Sigma is not just desirable, but mandatory.

 

When do I use it?

 

‘Six Sigma’ in its essence is a philosophy of complete intolerance to process defects or variations. Hence, it cannot be a one-off initiative that brings in one time results. Studies of past Six Sigma implementations have amply demonstrated that the process quality improvement brought about by an organization wide initiative can quickly recede to its original levels if not sustained through a continuous focus on improvements and use of the six sigma tools.

 

How can 1Team Consulting help?

1Team Consulting has Experienced Certified Six Sigma Black Belts and Master Black Belts who can drive your process improvement initiatives and ensure that your organization adopts the Six Sigma as a way of life. We can help align senior executives on the need for initiating six sigma projects in your organization and train up your resources at all levels with foundational skills (Yellow Belt) to create understanding and awareness and project implementation skills (Green Belts) to ensure successful Six Sigma Project Execution