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? Or can it really help?
Lean Six Sigma Definition:
The decision to implement a company wide process improvement program will be made by executives, however they may or may not fully understand the needs of the business operations.
It is important to present them with all the facts to help them choose the best continuous improvement tools that will fit the needs of the business and fit into the available budget.
Lean Six Sigma Model:
Lean, with its focus on eliminating waste, is a quick and easy method to make changes and improve business processes. It includes problem solving and the use of the 7 quality improvement tools. Lean implementation has no internationally defined standard, however the Toyota Production System is accepted as the comparative benchmark.
On the other hand, Six Sigma is more analytical system that incorporates the DMAIC model and needs specialized training. It is going to take longer to train and implement. Implementing Six Sigma instead of a Lean program will be determined by the status of two systemic conditions i.e. process complexity and process variation. Implementing Six Sigma where Lean would better serve the employees and customers alike is similar to using a sledge hammer to crack a walnut. It would be a misapplication of company resources such as people, time and money. A global standard for Six Sigma does not exist, however, general training curriculum and implementation practices have developed over time. A good example of a lack of a global standard is how some Six Sigma certification institutions do not include a Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) module, while others do.
Lean Six Sigma Tools:
The integration of Lean and Six Sigma created Lean Six Sigma. It uses the principles of Lean to increase process velocity and the Six Sigma DMAIC model to reduce the negative impact of process variation. Lean Six Sigma training and application is inconsistent between different organizations. Overtime, some standardized practices have developed for training and application but there is still no official standard for Lean Six Sigma. Several business entities have became well known as a result of developing their own form of Lean Six Sigma with their own name. However, is a system by any another name still maintaining the Lean Six Sigma focus?
The only way to know if any system can do this is to look at the results. A critique of a companyâ€™s financial statement is the best performance and capability measure for the success or failure of any continuous improvement program. If it canâ€™t meet this criterion, then avoid it.