Lean Six Sigma: Defined and Outlined with 5 questions
One of the easiest ways to define Lean Six Sigma is by using Six Sigma and differentiating the two initiatives. Essentially, Six Sigma focuses on the quality of a product or services in relation to the customer’s wants and needs. A product or service needs to be top-quality because of customer feedback and direction. Lean Six Sigma focuses on the same thing but also considers the processes, the production speed and resources costs.
1 – How do you know it’s Lean Six Sigma?
Lean Six Sigma seeks to employ the thinking that quality and processes efficiency go hand-in-hand in a company’s workflow and product delivery. This means that success can only be achieved when the customer gets a great product that’s produced fast and at low-cost.
One of the most important things to remember when employing Six Sigma initiatives in your company is the “voice of the customer”. This means that the client’s needs and perspectives is one of the most important aspects in every business decision. Lean Six Sigma seeks to meet every need of the customer and at the same time deliver a product cheaply and quickly.
2 – What’s the difference between Lean and Six Sigma ?
Where Six Sigma focuses on making quality products, Lean requires faster turnaround times and production. Instead of thinking that making your processes faster is only going to result in mishaps and dissatisfied customers, you should think that a well-managed process can actually boost your sales. For further explanation we invite you to read our “What is Lean Six Sigma ? ” article.
3 – How to start streamlining ?
But how do you know if your process is sound and if it produces the kind of product consumers are looking for? Essentially, you have to streamline your process through the following:
- Documentation. Write things down so you have a record. Details are important.
- Examination. Use your senses and invest some time in observing all the workflow processes.
- Training. Employ effective pedagogy on your workers so they know and perform the best practices.
- Eliminating waste. There is always room for improvement and ways to cut down on the unnecessary to save time, effort and resources.
4 – What the Black Belts will teach you ?
Keep in mind that you can’t do this all by yourself; and neither can a Lean Six sigma expert, also known as a Black Belt or Master Black Belt. For example, even if you hire that one consultant that can motivate and teach your workers, it’s still your staff who’s going to be doing the work. You should also know how to do the following as the leader of your team:
- Brainstorm with your staff.
- Organize your ideas.
- Encourage your team to take part of the project.
- Set definitive and functional goals with your team.
- Cultivate a culture of accountability.
- Employ good conflict management.
- Review, learn and improve continuously throughout the process.
- Collaborate with other teams and groups within and without the company.
5 – How to make decisions under a Black Belt ?
Managing your team with the help of a Black Belt and Lean Six Sigma isn’t enough. You need solid research and good facts to know how to apply Lean Six Sigma. Concrete evidence like surveys, delivery reports, market response reports and other documentation can give insight into what are the exact ‘defects’ of your product and process flow. Always use the following to guide your business decisions when you use Lean Six Sigma:
- Focus on the customers.
- Seek to balance speed, quality and low production cost in your processes. They must all be optimized and coexisting.
- Try to automate and accelerate your production. This eliminates differences, duds and defects.
- Always go back to the data. Sometimes you may have interpreted it wrong but never doubt it.
- Encourage teamwork in making decisions and enacting change in production.
So how do you implement Lean Six Sigma? We think that it’s not enough that you follow principles, you also have to know the process of employing Lean Six Sigma. To make things easier, always think about Define-Measure-Analyse-Improve-Control or DMAIC. Black Belts can teach you how to define problems, measure processes and results, analyse the data with the right tools, improve the process to take away defects and variance and controlling the new process or outcome as your team has developed.
In the end, we think that you should also learn how to pick your projects. Black Belts often teach managers and other people on the team that they should know which battles to fight and which processes can be changed.