In today’s globalized and competitive work environment, every organization’s goal is to have a streamlined workflow by eliminating unnecessary tasks that hinder the smooth execution of a project. Enterprises require some management approaches to improve their productivity or performance. Project managers can choose from various methodologies to attain efficiency. There are two widely used methodologies: Lean and Six Sigma, that all project managers can rely upon. The combination of these two methodologies is known as “Lean Six Sigma.”Let’s dive deep into the definition, key-elements, and Lean Six-Sigma principles.
What is Lean Six-Sigma?
Lean Six-Sigma is a process improvement methodology to remove waste, problems, and inefficiency. It improves the working criteria to satisfy customer requirements.
“Lean Six Sigma is a fact-based, data-driven philosophy of improvement that values defect prevention over defect detection.”
-American Society of Quality(ASQ)
Lean and Six-Sigma’s combination ensures exceptional performance in maximizing efficiency, enhancing profitability and business processes across the world. The approach has been implemented across various industries and sectors such as healthcare, the service sector, telecommunication, information technology, finance, etc.
Key Elements of Lean Six-Sigma
Lean Six-Sigma combines methods, principles, and tools of both Lean and Six-Sigma to improve the organization’s operations efficiency.
Here are the three key elements of Lean Six Sigma:
Tools and techniques
A wide array of tools and analytical techniques are used to identify the issues and resolve them timely.
Process and methodology
A set of processes and methodologies are implemented to use problem-solving tools to identify the root cause and solution hindering the project’s progress.
Mindset and culture
While working on a project, our thinking and mindset depend entirely on data and processes used to attain goals and continuously improve throughout the process.
Now, let’s understand how these elements correspond to each other.
Without a proper process and mindset of continuous improvement, using analytical techniques is not effective. The improvement process gives desired results when implemented with suitable tools and techniques defining the process steps and a culture that promotes a systematic data-based approach to resolve the issues.
A work culture that looks for continuous improvement requires tools and techniques for analysis and process/methodology to focus on the improvement. In this relate, Lean Six-Sigma for any business includes all the above elements.
Lean Six-Sigma Principles
Incorporating Lean Six-Sigma principles are effective ways to implement a project.
Focus on customer attention
Irrespective of your business, customers are always the priority. Every product should be designed considering customer requirements as a satisfied customer is said to improve the business process/product quality.
It’s a well-known fact that no organization would survive without customers; thus, it is essential to cater to the customer’s quality requirements before implementing any changes. Every step of the organization should focus on delivering maximum value to the customer.
Value stream mapping
It is essential to know all the steps before starting a process. You need to be aware of the steps that add value and do not add value to the process.
Before making any improvements, you must be clear about the existing processes. One of the most effective steps amongst all the Lean Six-Sigma principles is recognizing the value stream. It shows how the business visualizes all the steps and highlights the waste area. One of the best ways to visualize the steps involved in the process is through developing a value stream map.
Value Stream Map is basically a flow chart illustrating the steps involved in the production/service process. This gives a clear view of the entire process from start to end and reduces focusing on a single step. Once the value stream mapping is ready, then you will identify the root cause of the issue.
Removal of waste
Before making any improvements to the existing process, it’s essential to remove the waste and reduce variations.
After identifying the root cause of the waste/variation, the next step is to eliminate it as it doesn’t add any value to the final product. Streamlining the process is the best way to attain a waste-free and effective approach. There should be an on-going review process while removing the waste. Go ahead with the following steps during the waste reduction process.
- Make the waste visible
- Be conscious
- Be accountable
Reducing the variation leads to increasing standardization, which makes the organization cost-efficient and gives higher customer satisfaction. Here are a few ways as to how you can attain variation reduction:
- Processes documentation
- Implement best practices
- Create and share a checklist for processes with the team
- Ensure everyone gets the training
- Incorporate forms and templates
- Automate anything that is error-prone
Flexible and adaptive
The whole idea behind implementing Lean Six-Sigma is to accept the change. Having appropriate communication regarding the change in the process motivates the team to accept it.
The team members and management should possess thorough knowledge about Lean Six-Sigma Processes. While implementing any team changes, it’s essential to have clear communication regarding a new set of practices and standards. There should be regular training sessions for every employee and receive feedback from them.
Having comprehensive knowledge about business and customer data merely provides a competitive edge over the competitors and provides more significant opportunities for innovation. This is why Lean Six-Sigma principles are gaining popularity. Any kind of inefficient processes are not acceptable in Lean Six-Sigma. It must be identified and removed timely.
If you want to become a certified Lean Six Sigma professional check out our Lean Six Sigma certification courses which are accredited by IASSC.