Lean Sigma has captured the imagination across the business world. It is currently used in a wide range of processes from airlines, hospitals and the building industry to retail and banking.
Although the term ‘Lean’ was not coined until the mid 1980s, Lean is based on the same business improvement philosophy that inspired the Toyota car manufacturing industry to incredible success in Japan.
This same philosophy continues to inspire untold businesses around the globe, leading them to increase the quality of their performance and success.
Lean Sigma provides value for a customer by making efficient use of business resources. By definition, value is any process that a customer would be willing to pay for.
By contrast, any activity that consumes time, resources or space but decreases value to the customer is considered ‘Waste’.
‘Waste’ adds damaging bulk to any process. Hence the choice of the word ‘Lean’
- the reduction of this bulk.
The term ‘Sigma’ refers to the statistical and/or data-based analysis of business process quality. Although this approach is used more frequently in larger businesses it can, if required, be used to provide valuable information for your business.
Lean Sigma tools are straightforward and easy to use. Ideas can be easily shared and displayed within discussion groups using nothing more complex than flip-charts or adhesive notes!
- Performing work site visits to observe current practices and workplace layouts
- Gaining feedback from all levels of the workforce about the strengths and weaknesses of current work practices
- ‘Value Stream Mapping’ whereby the types of ‘waste’ and where they cause the greatest detriment to business processes are identified;
- ‘Root Cause Analysis’ whereby the reasons for how a waste has developed or may develop in the future are determined;
- ‘Kaizen Analysis’ whereby a workplace is observed in action and any necessary changes designed. This creates a new layout that is far more productive for both staff and the work processes.
- ‘Pareto Analysis or the 80:20 rule’ whereby the top 20% of causes that create 80% of all ‘waste’ are identified
- ‘Plan-Do-Check-Act’ the cycling process by which improvements are designed and tested to reduce the impact of the wastes;
- ‘Kano analysis’ discovering what additional quality, beyond that expected, can be developed to pleasantly surprise – or delight – the customer;
- Implementing Continuous Improvement in the culture of your business, thereby
empowering your workforce to continually suggest and drive through improvements.