In this down economy, companies are jumping onto the Lean Six Sigma bandwagon to improve their performance. Is it throwing good money into a bad idea? Will it help?
A common factor was achieving excellent quality. These companies were able to achieve two things simultaneously, reduce costs and increase profits. This lead to a â€œquality revolutionâ€ because the consumer had became educated about purchasing value in exchange for their money. It triggered a paradigm shift in the business world the likes of which had never been experienced before as consumers started to challenge the status quo. In todayâ€™s world, consumers automatically accept quality as the norm. They will not accept anything unless they perceive it to be flawless.
Every business is competing for the consumers money, so their products must be perfect or they will lose the sale. It was the development and application of lean principles that lead to the business process improvements, which in turn created the quality conscious consumer. So, lean principles, what are they? How did they change consumer awareness in quality?
Lean principles are simple, common sense tools and techniques that are used to identify and eliminate waste. One of the most important lean techniques used is Problem Solving. Organizations teach their employees how to use lean principles to identify the problems, and then find solutions to change and improve their working environment. The rationale for having resources focus on the removal of waste is to increase value for the consumer. This shifts the business focus from being internally or process centric to become externally or customer centric.
In other words, their business processes must operate effectively to give their customers what they need, when they need it. The quality aspect of lean improved even further with the addition of Statistical Process Control (SPC). It moved the quality goal line from companies making good products to where they could produce them within measureable upper and lower control limits. The SPC control limits are calculated within plus and minus three standard deviations of the mean, which increased their quality towards 3 Sigma or a 99.73% yield.