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It is now time to look at what Lean Six Sigma is, and how the two concepts work together to augment the overall functions of your business. Let’s go back for a brief review of the Lean Six Sigma processes individually. Finally, we will probe further into how both of these vital programs are used in combination to further enhance business performance.
Brief Overview of Six Sigma
Lean Six Sigma is considered a type of strategic business plan that utilizes both Lean and Six Sigma concepts to achieve the best possible results. Remember, Six Sigma is used to identify defects within a process, and then correct the problem. This includes establishing safeguards to prevent the problem from reoccurring.
There are four different levels of certification, within Six Sigma. These levels include Yellow Belts, Green Belts, Black Belts, and Master Black Belts, each level will build upon the other, with the Master Black Belt being the highest level of Six Sigma certification. Master Black Belts know all the ins and outs of every Six Sigma method used, including the structured DMAIC roadmap that is central to understanding what Six Sigma is all about.
Every Six Sigma project that is put forth follows rigid steps and has defined goals, such as achieving a hard or soft money savings through process improvement. Defects, according to Six Sigma, are anything that will ultimately lead to unhappy customers. The end result could be the loss of customers, if the defects are not fixed.
However, the customer does not always refer to an external party. For example, the customers for a human resources division would be the company’s employees. Six Sigma methodologies allows individuals to define, measure, analyze, improve, and control these defects (the DMAIC process) so that business is correcting internal and external problems to enhance customer satisfaction and profit gain.
Getting to Know Lean Six Sigma
In contrast, Lean Flow programs specifically focus on the reduction of waste, while considering the customer needs. In addition, Lean Flow may be used to ensure that transactions flow smoothly and efficiently. Lean Flow implements transactional and value stream mapping to get a visual understanding of the steps within a process or transaction. During economic downturns, Lean is a popular remedy for many organizations.
Lean Six Sigma offers real solutions for serious problems. However, if you only use one method, you may be missing out on potential savings or worse yet causing a more serious problem. If an organization is using only Six Sigma, they will have improved processes. However, there might be waste within the process that could be eliminated. If a company is only using Lean, there is a real threat of eliminating what appears to be waste, but is actually a crucial part of the process.
This is where Lean Six Sigma would come together and work as one functional unit instead of two separate entities. One of the most important things in combining the two programs together (commonly referred to as Lean Six Sigma or Six Sigma Lean) is that the Lean program will reduce any waste within a process, while Six Sigma will ensure that the process is not jeopardized or negatively effected by the elimination. The combination ensures customer satisfaction at the lowest cost possible to the company.
Lean Six Sigma programs focus on defining defects, which will throw a process off course, while reducing as much waste within the process as possible. Kaizan can be a very effective part of beginning a Lean Six Sigma project. It forces everyone involved in the project to get together for an intense meeting to focus on the steps within a process.
The Kaizan is the first step to discovering possible waste. Then the team can move onto a DMAIC process to determine, if removing the waste will negatively affect the process. The DMAIC step may also unearth problems that went unnoticed during the Kaizan event. Lean Six Sigma teaches us not to focus on the big picture, but rather to define core processes within the big picture. Once these core processes are identified, the team can begin working on improving each step and use Lean to find any waste.
Lean Six Sigma programs are offered in a public classroom setting, although students may pursue the Six Sigma portion online. Throughout the training students will learn about the DMAIC process and specific lean processes, such as the 5S program. You will learn how these structured methods work together to define defects, improve customer satisfaction, reduce waste, and ultimately achieve a hard or soft money savings. To learn more about our Lean Six Sigma programs, please contact one of our representatives.