The Lean Bible: Lean 6 Sigma.

Lean Tools: Six Sigma Implementing Six Sigma can be a useful tool in your quest to create a Lean system. Sigma Six is shorthand for a quality measuring system whose goal is statistically close to perfection. The goal of a properly functioning Six Sigma process it to minimize variation to the point that only 3.4 defects occur over a million instances of the process being performed. There are six standard process deviations between a poorly completed process and a process that up to the customer’s standards. The difference between the best a process can be and what the customer expects is known as Zshift. A typical Zshift is 1.5 which means the best the process could be is a 6, and the average is a 4.5. When it comes to satisfying customers using processes, not products, the ultimate outcome is determined by the quality of the result versus what the customer expected. Six Sigma levels explained 1: 31 percent of the time your results will meet or exceed the customer’s expectations. 2: 69 percent of the time your results will meet or exceed the customer’s expectations. 3: 93.3 percent of the time your results will meet or exceed the customer’s expectations. 4: 99.38 percent of the time your results will meet or exceed the customer’s expectations. 5: 99.997 percent of the time your results will meet or exceed the customer’s expectations. 6: 99.99966 percent of the time your results will meet or exceed the customer’s expectations. Key Principles: Lean Six Sigma functions based on an applied acceptance of five laws. The first is the law of the market. This means the customer is always at the forefront of every decision. The second is the law of flexibility which states that the best processes are the ones which can be used for multiple functions.  The third law is the law of focus which states it is important to focus on problems the business is having and not the business itself. The fourth law is the law of velocity which states the more steps a process has the slower it will be to complete. Finally, the fifth law is the law of complexity which states that the simpler a process is, the better. Choosing the right process: When it comes to deciding which processes to apply the Sigma Six treatment to, it is important to start by locating any defective process and working to reduce their instances of occurrence. From there it is important to look for instances where takt time can be reduced before looking into instances where the amount of resources required for individual processes can be reduced. Methodologies There are two primary types ways to go about using Six Sigma, DMAIC and DMADV. DMAIC: This acronym is handy for remembering five phases that can be beneficial when it comes to creating new processes. Define what the process should do based on input from customers Measure and decide on the parameter of the process that is being created by gathering relevant information Analyze anything that has been gathered when it came to determining parameters Improve the process in any way possible based on the results of the analysis. Control the process in as many ways as possible to decrease the chance of potential delinquent variations. DMADV: This acronym also has five phases, all of which coincide with the DMAIC phases. Start by defining the solutions the process should provide Next it is important to measure the specifics of the process so you can see its parameters Next, analyze the data you have collected on the process Using the analysis to design to process Verify the results by running the newly changed process Importance of levels In Sigma Six there are a number of certification levels that everyone on the team can be slotted into. This is an important part of the Sigma Six process as the different levels have different tasks when it comes to making sure process run as smoothly as possible. Executive: The executive is most likely you, that is, the person who is establishing the Six Sigma tool set and determining the scope of Six Sigma projects. Champion: A Six Sigma champion is a member of the management team that can champion a specific project. In these cases, a champion is a person who has the ability to provide resources without going higher in the chain.
White Belt: A Six Sigma white belt understands the basics of the Six Sigma program but is not on an active Six Sigma project team. Yellow Belt: A Six Sigma yellow belt is a currently active project team member. The job of a yellow belt is to determent improvements that can be made to the current process for the benefit of the team. Green Belt: A Six Sigma green belt helps to collect and analysis data for projects that are led by black belts while also running their own teams. Black Belt: A black belt leads larger or more complex projects while providing support for lower teams. Master Black Belt: A Six Sigma master black belt is responsible for training other team members and keeping the Six Sigma process running smoothly. They are most likely responsible for determining KPIs and strategic implementation.
Lean Tools: Kaizen Kaizen translates to continuous improvement which is an important goal to consider when creating a Lean system that works for your business. The goal of this strategy is to get the entire team to focus on the idea that small improvements should be happening all the time. Everyone on your team will have different talents and specialties, the goal of Kaizen is to have all of that talent focused on improving wherever and whenever possible. Kaizen is unique among Lean strategies as it is as much a general philosophy as it is a direct plan for future action. The goal of Kaizen should be to create a culture that supports improvement while also creating groups focused more directly on improving key processes to reach well-defined goals. If you are already using, or thinking about using a standardized work process then it is likely you will want to take advantage of Kaizen as well because they complement each other nicely. Standard practices lead to current best practices which Kaizen can then improve upon. Kaizen can be useful for essentially every process that your team uses with any regularity, but first, it is important to determine the goals of the updated process. Then, it is important to review the current state of things before adding the ideal improvements. After that, it is important to follow up and ensure the improvements work as expected. Consider using PDCA or DMADV for the same results. Teaching team members to use Kaizen as a plan of action, simultaneously teaches them to apply it as a philosophy as well. The type of thinking that is formed habitually by constantly looking for paths to improvement also allows team members to approach their daily processes from new and innovative ways as opposed to simply sticking with what works. This mindset should be nurtured whenever possible as it only produces more fruitful results the longer it is active. While constantly improving existing practices is a great place to start, it is important that the Kaizen your team is practicing does not only occur after the fact. When new processes are created, it is in everyone’s best interest that they be held to the same stringent examination process as well. Hindsight is good, foresight is better. Steps to better Kaizen Start by standardizing your process, not just the process that you are looking to actively engage in Kaizen, but all your processes to ensure future improvements are as beneficial as possible. Compare processes to determine what steps being used in some areas can be used in others. It is important to look at real KPIs and not anecdotal information during this step as it can be easy to get off on the wrong track without realizing it. Once you know where change should occur, work with what is available to determine easier ways of completing the process. Consider the beginning of the process and then its end, then simply visualize alternative ways from ‘a’ to reach ‘b’. It is important to only move forward with useful innovations as innovating simply for the sake of innovating will simply create waste. Repeat, turn the innovations into new standardized procedures and begin the entire process anew. The only bad idea, when it comes to Kaizen, is resting on your laurels. Create a Kaizen mindset While it can be great to get your team together now and then for Kaizen centered events where everyone takes a look at a specific process and determines the best way to get to the solution. It can be more difficult to train your team to always be in a Kaizen mindset. The best way to begin to train them to this improved way of thinking is to start by making the elimination of waste a top priority. Keep this idea in the team mindset, every day and during every meeting. Once team members start noticing waste without thinking about it they will be well on their way finding ways to work around it instead. From there, set aside time specially to allow team members to look at the processes they use most regularly and really think about them. The human mind loves pattern and repetition which is why it is so easy to follow well-worn steps regardless of their total efficacy. Providing your team with the opportunity to really think about their processes, instead of simply working through them, will push them into seeing the flaws that they may otherwise have been blind to for years. Taking this exercise, a step further, can be useful as well. To do so, provide team members the time to talk to others about their processes which will, in turn, give each process a fresh set of eyes. This is also a great way to find logical blind spots in complicated processes, just be sure that everyone takes notes during the entire process to make sure valuable insight is not lost in the shuffle. It is important to emphasize that there are no wrong answers during this stage, a free and open dialogue can provide innovative solutions to problems you didn’t even know you were facing.

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