How To Begin With Lean Six Sigma -


How To Begin With Lean Six Sigma

By Gary Reed

There are many ways to solve problems and improve processes. Many companies, some very prominent, have used Lean Six Sigma very successfully in their quest to make their companies and organizations leaner and more efficient. It can take time to undergo, but in the long run it is certainly worth putting the time and effort in.

The progression is through several phases; Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control. Involving a number of different people from throughout the organization can shed light on various views of the problem as well as the solution. Having input from others can really help in gathering data as well.

The beginning step, define, simply means to define what the problem is. This is best accomplished by developing a problem statement that describes what the challenge is. Next, detail what the end goal is through the development of a goal statement. The current process can be mapped so that it is well understood. Finally, identify who will best benefit by solving the problem is, usually a customer, by outlining what they require of the process.

Next comes the measure phase. It can be time a labor intensive, so it is best to start with a plan for how to measure, or collect, the data. Ensure that the data means something and that it is relevant to the end goal. This may require an expansion of the project team to help collect it and input from subject matter experts within the organization. Chart the data as it is collected to help identify if there are deficiencies.

The data that has been collected is then analyzed in the Analyze phase. Current processes are carefully studied. Data that has already been collected must be placed into charts using a number of different tools. Discussions should take place within the team about the problem and what some of the underlying causes could be.

Improve is the next step. Again, the team can gather and come up with potential solutions to the problem. A process map for how the process can be improved may be designed and the best possible solutions filtered out. The solution or solutions should be implemented and additional data must then be collected once this is done to prove or disprove that the solution is working. It is important to make sure that the data collected is accurate and relevant.

Lastly, in the Control phase, controls are put into place to ensure that the new process is being followed and that the improvements continue. It is important to sustain the changes in order to consider the problem solved. The outcomes can be shared throughout the organization, as there may be other departments that can benefit from the efforts. Be sure to celebrate successes at this point!

North Carolina has a number of organizations that have seen success with the implementation of this process. It is wonderful to see the benefits that can come from spending the time on each step and reaping the rewards of the outcome.

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