Which is the better system, Lean or Six Sigma?

six sigma

Getting beyond the hype is improtant whe it comes to implementing Lean and/or Six Sigma?

Which one first, Lean or Six Sigma?

The Lean vsix sigmas. Six Sigma discussion continues to roll on. Which is the best system for a business to adopt? Which one will deliver the best results? Which one gives fast results? What are the implementation cost difference’s between a Lean and a Six Sigma program? These are typical questions that get asked in this long running comparison between Lean and Six Sigma.

There are three factors that will influence any management team to decide on Lean or Six Sigma:

  1. Complexity of the business processes.
  2. Dollar amount available in the training budget.
  3. Discipline of management team to execute improvement initiatives.

1. Complexity of the business processes:

Any business with a high level of complexity in its processes will require an improvement program that can meet the demands of the  customer by using a more analytical approach. These types of businesses will use Lean to stabilize their processes and Six Sigma to reduce variation and improve quality. These types of organizations operate in a more academic or scientific level of industry such as chip manufacturers, software developers, etc.

Any business with a lower level of complexity needs an improvement program that can meet the demands of its customers by identifying and eliminating waste using basic Lean principles and problem solving tools. Kaoru Ishikawa stated, ” that 95% of all problems could be solved using seven basic quality tools.” These seven tools are:

  1. Flow Chart ( or Value Stream Map)
  2. Pareto Chart
  3. Scatter Diagram
  4. Cause & Effect Diagram
  5. Check Sheets
  6. Histograms
  7. Control Charts

Organizations that have successfully implemented Lean Principles use most, if not all of these seven quality tools as part of their Problem Solving toolkit.  In conjunction with the “5 Why’s”, the Lean toolkit can become a very effective set of tools to help identify and eliminate waste.

2. Dollar amount available in the training budget.

Traditionally, companies will spend less than 3% of their revenue on training. The Lean vs. Six Sigma discussion raises a legitimate question: “How much does it cost to implement each system?” Well one thing I know for sure is that Lean is a much cheaper system to implement than Six Sigma. Why is this? Six Sigma requires specialist training to develop a core group of green and black belts to run projects. This training is much more complex and expensive than teaching your employees to understand Lean principles and how to apply them. So, why do companies adopt Six Sigmas if it is more expensive to implement than Lean?

It is easy to answer this question by using the comparison I used earlier in this article. “If a business can improve its process using seven basic quality tools and lean principles, why would they want to implement a Six Sigma program?” I think the answer is obvious, they would only do this if they had complex processes or were influenced by the hype that Six Sigma is the ultimate silver bullet to solve all of their problems and improve performance. Lean is easy and relatively much more cost effective to implement compared to the overall cost of a Six Sigma program.

3. Discipline of management team to execute improvement initiatives.

In the end it really does not matter how much a business pays for any system if the management team lacks the discipline to implement any of their improvement initiatives. During the 27 years I have been working in the Continuous Process Improvement field, it is amazing how many companies do not execute their own strategic or tactical initiatives. The best plan in the world is useless unless it is converted into action. The cost of training employees to understand Lean or Six Sigma in one thing. However, the cost of taking several employees away from their daily productive work to participate in an improvement team and their ideas are not used is the worst kind of waste.

To summarize the article, I would recommend that any company start their Continuous Process Improvement journey by first implementing Lean principles and the seven problem solving tools. Employee training can be done on-site or online.  If you’re interested in signing up for a free access to Lean training, click here. When business processes have been stabilized through the application of Standardized Work using Lean princples, then and only then would I personally consider implementing a six sigma or a lean six sigma program.

What is Strategy Deployment?

strategy deployment

strategy deploymentEvery business needs to know about Strategy Deployment!

Why is strategy deployment so important?

It’s very important for any business to have a clear understanding of what is stopping it from achieving success. Without knowing this important piece of information they will continue to repeat the same mistakes. However, that everyone should know is there are no failures, only results. An organization just has to find the right result to match their needs!

Strategy Deployment helps any business to learn about themselves. It creates a common focus for everyone in the organization. This focus is called a “vision”. Often a vision is referred to as the companies “North Star.”

Strategy Deployment is like a compass, it helps a company to get its bearings and know its moving in the right direction!

The Japanese term for Strategy Deployment is “Hoshin Kanri.” The term for Strategy Deployment is aligned with the concept of a compass guiding a traveler to help them determine the direction of magnetic North or the North Star. Many companies have successfully implemented Strategy Deployment to guide their business process improvement projects to align with their own North Star or vision.

Many organizations struggle with the need to improve their business processes and maintain their revenue stream. Business Process Improvement requires time and money. It s therefore very important for a business to ensure they are putting their money into sound improvement projects.

Many companies lose their way and find it difficult to get back on track. A great tool for helping any business to do this is “Strategy Deployment.” It is an easy system to learn and implement throughout an organization. It does require a change in thinking and the discipline to follow through with the defined activities.

It’s very important for any business to have a clear understanding of what is stopping it from achieving success. Without knowing this important piece of information they will continue to repeat the same mistakes. There are no failures, only results.

It’s very important for any business to have a clear understanding of what is stopping it from achieving success. Without knowing this important piece of information they will continue to repeat the same mistakes. There are no failures, only results.

Many companies lose their way and find it difficult to get back on track. A great tool for helping any business to do this is “Strategy Deployment.” It is an easy system to learn and implement throughout an organization. It does require a change in thinking and the discipline to follow through with the defined activities. Click to check out this website for training about Strategy Deployment.

Continuous Process Improvement Wishlist!

continuous process improvement

Continuous Process Improvement starts with a problem and ends with a solution!

Capturing your employee’s ideas is the best way to support your continuous process improvement program!

Every buscontinuous process improvementiness has a wishlist. It is generated by individuals who see a lack of internal capability based on wishful thinking. I wish we could do this and I wish we could do that! Wishing does nothing except generate a deeper level of frustration with every passing day. Employees actual like to be part of the system and enjoy their ideas being used as part of a company’s continuous process improvement process.

Continuous Process Improvement does not happen by chance!

However, Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) is not something you wish for, it is something you do. Change does not happen by chance, it has to be defined, managed and cultivated over time. Getting things to occur on a Just in Time (JIT) basis requires changes in the organizational thinking. Often, this is counter intuitive to conventional thinking. A good example of this process is to slow down to speed up! Every action starts as a thought! Change your thinking and you can change your world. The desire for change is the initiator of continuous process improvement.

What is Kaizen?

kaizen

Understanding the meaning of kaizen can impact success!

Kaizen is a philosophical concept of incremental improvements over time.

Does your employees know the meaning of the Japanese term “kaizen“? It is improtant for every business owner to know  and understand the meaning of this term. It can be the difference between success and failure when trying to change your processes!

Kaizen is akaizen way of life that is inherent within the Japanese culture and was integrated into the Toyota Production System (TPS) after World War II. It has become the buzz word or keyword that is immediatly recognizable with the process of continuous improvement.

Cultural change starts with the acceptance of the kaizen philosphy!

When a business can implement small improvements on a regular basis over a period of time, it eventually leads to changes in the culture. Cultural acceptance of change is the goal of all continuous improvement. Without the acceptance of a Kaizen philosophy, there will be an ongoing resistance to change and this will force a business to return to its old ways.

I like what George Bernard Shaw had to say about this, “If a person can’t change their mind, they cannot change anything.” This is the secret to putting Kaizen into practice!