What is Lean Six Sigma?
Six Sigma is a set of methods and tools for process improvement with the goal of improving efficiencies and profitability. Developed in 1986, Six Sigma has become a global phenomenon with companies around the world adopting the paradigm as the core of their business operations.
The “Lean” methodology is similar to Six Sigma. It stresses achieving the greatest efficiency in all characteristics of operations. Six Sigma emphasizes more on eliminating errors within processes. The lean strategy focuses on identifying needless steps that consume effort and resources. Lean Six Sigma (LSS) has proven to be so successful that it is estimated that over 69% of the medium and large manufacturers in the world use it. I mean, who doesn’t want to be efficient and well organized? In fact, as businesses grow, the tendency is to become more inefficient and less organized.
These two methodologies have spawned an industry that offers relevant training, which is in high demand across a wide range of industries. Both are applicable in manufacturing, finance, healthcare, IT, and more.
Major benefits of Lean Six Sigma strategy include customer satisfaction and cost reduction. It also leads to revenue growth and productivity improvements.
- Increased Productivity
- Improved Quality for Products and Services
- Reduced Operational Costs
- Higher Customer Satisfaction
- Improved Communications Among the Team
Helping to Win the War for Talent
Many company leaders complain that there is a lack of leadership out in the labor market.
However, proactive managers recognize that while super leaders may be born and not made, there are definite attributes of leadership that can be taught.
Lean Six Sigma provides important analytics for operational benchmarks and guidelines. Moreover, LSS helps to promote leadership skills training that addresses the growing problem of leadership development.
Signs That Your Company is Ready for Lean Six Sigma
Many LSS training providers have identified signals to look for to determine if a company is ready to adopt LSS initiatives. While many companies are reactive and wait to look inward, there are some signs that can help prompt companies to become proactive.
Normally, the inward look starts with the famous Einstein quip: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different outcomes.” You keep “solving” the same problem again and again.
You aren’t getting to the root cause, and all you are doing is treating the symptoms. If you experience the following, it may be a good time to take on LSS training.
- When you walk your production area, you see piles of material sitting at various places around the operation. This is a sure sign that your process can use some tuning.
- The lead time for providing a service is causing customer dissatisfaction, and they’re letting you know about it, loud and clear.
- The labor market in your geographical area is tightening up. It’s getting more and more expensive and challenging to find the right people to keep your business humming.
- Your IT expenses are starting to nibble at your margins, and for some reason, your IT department keeps missing those “go live” dates. When they finally do launch, it’s never quite as smooth as you expect.
- You are constantly waiting for parts or tools or….
- Your salespeople are spending a significant amount of their day doing things other than selling.
- Some of your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are in the bottom half of a benchmark distribution.
- Your management team is frustrated that the company’s problems aren’t getting addressed in a timely manner.
- Decisions are being made without appropriate data to back them and using “group think” or “the loudest voice in the room” as the decision-making processes. (Lean Six Sigma can provide a disciplined, systemic, and structured problem-solving approach, which uses data to drive decisions that impact the customer as well as business efficiency.)
However, despite the proven benefits of Lean Six Sigma Training, many companies are reluctant to take on new initiatives. Indeed, Human nature has a tendency to fight change.
Why Some Companies Don’t Consider LSS
- We’re too small. LSS is only for large companies.
- I’ve never heard of Lean Six Sigma.
- Lean Six Sigma is a fad, just like Total Quality Management, the Juran Quality Trilogy, Theory of Constraints, and Business Process Re-Engineering.
- We don’t have time for a Lean Six Sigma program.
- Our company can’t afford the costs of implementing a Lean Six Sigma program. (Without actually knowing the cost)
- We’re not a manufacturer. (All companies have processes and waste)
- Lean Six Sigma involves a lot of statistics and advanced mathematics.
- Lean is a better fit for our business. Six Sigma is too advanced.
- We’ve tried Lean Six Sigma years ago and did not achieve good results.
- Fear of seeing our own neglect and facing the unknown or failure.
- If I spend the money training my people, it makes them more marketable, or they will demand higher pay.
As with any investment, decision makers need to look at what the measurable ROI could be.
One of the first things that LSS consultants do is analyze what poor efficiencies are costing a company and what improvements would do to reduce cost and increase revenue, profits and customer satisfaction.
Once confronted with credible analysis, it is the time to assess the pros and cons of implementing a tried and true system like LSS. Most everyone would agree that it is much wiser to make a decision based on specific facts rather than depend on hear-say or uninformed judgments. Even worse, it may be costing your company lost opportunities and unneeded stress.