Bill Smith, a Motorola employee in 1986, worked out Six Sigma methodology. The methodology aimed to improve the in-house products not meeting quality standards. The methodology was in line with the achievements in statistics and quality control by Walter Shewhart, Ronald Fisher, and Edwards Deming. Based on statistical principles, Six Sigma methodology is one of the primary quality improvement methodologies throughout the world.
Six Sigma methodology utilizes numerous tools, techniques, and principles to enhance product or process quality. It helps in identifying, highlighting, and reducing variations. The Six Sigma methodology concentrates on implementing quality control measures and reducing the number of defects. Sigma level denotes the total number of flaws; a higher Sigma level indicates a lower number of defects. Six Sigma methodology aims to limit the defects to 3.4 for every one million products.
On the Sigma level, Six Sigma is considered as the highest level and one Sigma as the lowest level. Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, and Control, commonly referred to as DMAIC, is one of well known Six sigma methodologies that emphasizes enhancing current processes. DMAIC methodology is applicable in the current product or process that does not meet quality standards and can be further improved.
Lean is a systematic approach that mainly aims for the reduction or elimination of non-value-added activities. Lean primarily emphasizes removing irrelevant steps, which eventually ensures better quality standards and client satisfaction. Lean works on identifying and categorizing waste in different types such as defects, waiting, non-utilized talent, overproduction, transportation, motion, inventory, and extra processing.
In simple words, a blend of Lean and Six Sigma values incarnates the Lean Six Sigma approach. While Lean values emphasize eliminating process waste, Six Sigma techniques reduce process variations. As a result, the Lean Six Sigma framework helps businesses achieve desired effectiveness, improved efficiency, and enhanced profitability. Lean Six Sigma is essential for improving customer experience and overall quality. Integration of values results in exceptional outcomes and a data/fact-driven approach with substantial improvement in areas including inventory management, goods transportation, product defects, and so on.
Professionals who achieve Lean Six Sigma Certification are valuable assets to companies. The present article will focus on Lean Six Sigma principles and various benefits achieved by embracing the values.
Lean Six Sigma Principles
Customer Oriented: Customer first, the prudent policy, no matter how old, still holds today. One needs to focus on client needs and market demand as clients are critical to every business. The primary aim for implementing any changes must be to exceed client expectations and maximize their benefits. Quality standards must be laid out based on client requirements before implementing any changes. Ensure to arrive at a decision that can deliver maximum value to clients.
Preparing Value Stream map: Lean Six Sigma concentrates on eliminating non-value-added activities in a process. It is vital for the team to examine and understand carefully the steps involved in the current process. Careful examination of the current process may lead to categorizing steps into buckets such as value-added steps or non-value-added steps. It cannot be argued that preparing a value stream makes Lean Six Sigma principles extremely effective.
A value stream map is essentially a flowchart to analyze the steps in a process. It helps to focus on the entire process rather than on one aspect of it. Using a process map or a value stream map can immediately assist in categorization and even recognition of some of the hidden issues in the process. A root cause analysis using a fishbone diagram or 5 Whys approach can help find the problem areas in the process.
Eliminating Waste and Reduce Variation: It may sound like a simple step. However, many times, non-value-added activities may be hidden and require effort to identify. Non-value-added measures can be of any categories defined in Lean such as defects, overproduction, waiting, transportation, inventory, non-utilized talent, motion, and extra processing.
Further, look for any opportunity to standardize the process, for example, enhanced documentation, establishing best practices, training needs, preparing templates for reporting, and automating steps. Standardization helps to reduce the variation in process or product to achieve the desired repeatability.
Preparing for Change: It is challenging to embrace changes readily. Communicating and motivating employees to opt willingly for new processes with lower waste and variation is important. Sharing new practices or standards with employees effectively is critical for implementing the new change.
Creating Cultural Change: Any change will bring fear. It is not enough to communicate the changes and provide new standards. Building a new culture for embracing change is required for the best results. Cultural change can only be created by sharing the right data. Data helps to create a culture conducive to deliver better products. Explanations to employees with data about their contribution and impact on the product deliverable in the new process is key.
Benefits of Lean Six Sigma
Companies can save tons of money and see immense transformation through implementing the Lean Six Sigma principles and practices due to numerous benefits. Some of the key benefits include.
Better Customer Experience: Since Lean Six Sigma helps companies to eliminate waste and reduce variation. It results in exceptional product quality at a reasonable rate with almost minimal to no defects. Better quality standards improve customer experience.
Customer Retention: Lean Six Sigma is customer-centric, and it puts a significant focus on customer voices. Lean Six Sigma ensures effective solutions with a fast delivery mechanism aligned with the latest market trends. With better quality and consistency in products or services. Companies attract new customers and build great customer relationships.
Improved Efficiency: Since Lean Six Sigma involves Data backed decision making, emphasizes right first time deliveries, enhanced throughput, and provides complete transparency, this results in high efficiency, and now every company choosing Lean Six Sigma as Corporate Strategies In Management.
Skill development: Lean Six Sigma is implemented across organizations, and each employee is required to embrace values aligned to better quality products and improved customer satisfaction. Lean Six Sigma needs to be replicated in the regular work of every employee. This mandates the organization to focus on skill development and make provision for learning within the organization, leading to increased employee performance and efficiency of companies as a whole.