What is Lean Six Sigma?
Lean Six Sigma combines both Lean and Six Sigma methodologies together, in order to eliminate waste and improve upon processes. This can be done through reducing waste caused by transportation, inventory, motion, waiting, overproduction and over-processing, as well as minimizing defects in manufactured products.
Amy Harris, Community Manager for Expert Market, linked with Six Sigma suppliers, offers you six ways Lean Six Sigma can benefit your business.
How do the Two Methodologies Differ?
Lean and Six Sigma are two different ways of approaching a problem or project. A Six Sigma project is usually based around a well-defined issue and a clear mission statement.
The projects usually take weeks or months to reach completion. Training for Six Sigma is formal and has different levels of competencies based on the martial arts colored belts system, starting with a white belt and ending with a master black belt.
On the other hand, Lean training is very much learning on the job. The projects are called kaizens, which last for anywhere between three and five days and the project path is less defined than it is with Six Sigma. Data is also not as important with Lean, as it focuses on visible problems such as inventory or defects.
The Methodologies Combined
In theory, Lean and Six Sigma should not work well together, but they do. This is because they both can make positive financial improvements to an organization through return on investment.
Higher management needs to support both ideals in order for them to succeed and they are both used in the manufacturing process. Speaking generally, both methodologies aim to improve the organization and make as much profit as possible.
More and more companies are now implementing Lean Six Sigma, a combination of both methodologies. Michael George published a book in 2002 called ‘Lean Six Sigma: Combining Six Sigma with Lean Speed’. This was the first publication that combined the two together and, since then, many companies have embraced it.
The six main benefits of Lean Six Sigma are:
1. Increased Employee Involvement
Employees get involved in both the planning and implementation of the projects in order for them to gain an understanding and appreciation of how all the other employees and departments work together and contribute to the success of the organization. The employees are supported by higher management but are also empowered to make decisions in the planning stage.
2. Develops Effective People &Increases Efficiency
Goals are clearly defined at the outset of a project and these goals are always deemed to be attainable.
A project will not go ahead if anything is vague. This reduces ambiguity and eliminates misunderstandings. Decisions are backed up with research and facts, which stops people from making decisions based on a whim.
3. Better Return on Investment
By using empirical evidence, improvements are measured by financial results. This can lead to an increase in shareholders which, in turn, benefits organizations and their employees. By delivering value to their customers, these organizations give themselves a competitive edge.
Some shareholders actually ask what methodologies a company is implementing before buying stock, and Lean Six Sigma is very highly regarded. Shareholders want to know that companies are doing all they can to reduce waste and make a profit.
4. Reduced Costs
Improving processes within an organization results in savings. Employees are taught to focus on getting things right first time to eliminate both the waste of materials and time.
This is key to reducing costs involved in the manufacturing process. In order to do this, careful planning and team synergy is needed.
5. Increased Customer Satisfaction
With Lean Six Sigma, employees get to understand what is important to customers. The customer’s needs and requirements are always at the top of the list. This is because increased customer satisfaction will lead to increased sales and more customers will return.
Customers will also spread good feedback about the organization which, in turn, will lead to new customers. The idea is that customer needs should be met, if not exceeded.
6. Better Products
Lean Six Sigma focuses on product improvements as well as improvements to the delivery of those products. The principles of Six Sigma ensure that there is minimal, if any, product variation whilst the principles of Lean ensures that all floor space is being utilized efficiently.
Some companies that use Lean Six Sigma are HSBC, Vodaphone, GlaxoSmithKline and Ford Motor Company.
Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification
Results-oriented, the Lean Six Sigma (LSS) Greenbelt certification course is designed for organizations that want to develop employees to be problem solving experts in production-based, service based, transactional, and healthcare environments. The participants learn the thinking and tools behind Lean Six Sigma through online modules and an in-class workshop, then apply those concepts through completion of a project at their workplace.
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