How does a business know if it’s making the right choice with Lean Six Sigma?
Lean Six Sigma is a management system using the DMAIC model, which requires a support infrastructure for long term sustainment.
An organization must exhibit a high level of internal discipline to implement and sustain a Lean Six Sigma process. Many organizations do not have the discipline to do this. In fact, for many who have chosen to implement Lean Six Sigma will find it to be overkill. What they need is an easier method to help improve their processes.
The number one procedure that can cure many of the ills experienced by any industry is basic problem solving tools. Ishikawa was known as the father of quality circles and for his popular use of the cause and effect diagram. He stated that “95% of all problems could be solved using seven basic quality tools.” These seven tools are the Cause and Effect Diagram, Check Sheet, Control Charts, Histogram, Pareto Chart, Scatter Diagram, and Stratification (which is sometimes replaced with a Flow Chart or Run Chart).
In my experience many of the companies that are spending a fortune on creating Black Belts, need to rethink and maybe change their focus. A better choice would be to start to train all their employees to become problem solvers. It is a less expensive solution than implementing Lean Six Sigma and it can be taught in less time. The time required for problem solving training is days, instead of the weeks or even months for a Lean Six Sigma training.
I actually support and use Lean Six Sigma with my own clients. I know its potential and its limitations. Lean Six Sigma has earned its place in the continuous process improvement field. My problem is that it is being used where it is not always the best solution for the client. I consider this to be a little insincere, when a client is told they will reap massive benefits by implementing it. Lean Six Sigma has also become used as a marketing tool by many companies to try to put them ahead of their competitors. However, eventually they must demonstrate real improvement and not just sales hype.