What if you could make innovation an integral part of your process? No one argues against continuous improvement. The concept of improving results and performance on a continual basis is universally hailed as a great idea. Doing it is another matter. First off, in order to improve continuously, you have to improve initially. Sometimes it’s easy to see the ﬂaws. Most of the time, it’s not. That’s why business results are often a mixed bag: two steps forward, one step back, sometimes better, sometimes worse. Simply stated, the goal is better, then better still.
Lean Six Sigma
A Hypothetical: Business Results Are the Sum of Your Processes
Building a Powerful Engine for Continuous Improvement
Lean Six Sigma is a rigorous, data-driven, results-oriented approach to process improvement. It combines two industry-recognized management methodologies evolved by companies like GE, Motorola, Bank of America, Xerox and Caterpillar, to cite a few examples. By integrating the tools and processes of Lean and Six Sigma, a powerful engine is created for improving quality, efﬁciency and speed in every aspect of your business.
You could argue that innovation, invention and big ideas have more impact on improvement than process does. But a wider view makes it clear that moving a big idea from the brain that created it into your global operations requires not just one well-designed process, but many well-designed processes, to deliver a proﬁtable outcome. R&D has a process. Supply Chain has a process. Marketing and Sales have a process. Finance has a process. And inside of those processes are many sub-processes. It’s often down in the layers of the sub-processes where you discover faults and deﬁciencies that hinder optimal situations. In theory, improve the processes, improve the results.
The First Step: Optimize the Process
Designing, implementing and operating an optimized process that can scale to global dimensions can be incredibly difﬁcult, especially when you factor in that it’s not a one-time event. It has to evolve over time as new requirements emerge and new technology becomes available. It requires a disciplined approach at the outset, and a dedicated commitment to monitoring and measuring. And you need proven tools and methodologies to establish the baseline, improve what’s there in the short term, monitor and control its operation, and create a path to future improvements over the long term. For us, that disciplined approach is Lean Six Sigma (LSS).
Speed + Low Cost
+ Six Sigma
Culture + Quality
Six Sigma Quality enables Lean Speed (fewer defects means less time spent on rework)
Lean Speed enables Six Sigma Quality (faster cycles of experimentation/learning)
Typically, organizations use Lean Six Sigma to make improvements inside their operations for everything from managing their supply chain processes and billing processes to new product design and customer relationships. For some, it becomes a new offering – a process improvement service they offer to their clients.
Know what counts. Measure what matters. Deliver results.
Lending Discipline to Online Services
The Lean Six Sigma methodology may be most valuable in situations where it can drive efﬁciencies, increase the effectiveness of personnel and, ultimately, lead to an enhanced patron experience. Take the Brooklyn Public Library, for example. Its policy of allowing patrons to print virtually any number of Web pages or other electronic documents free of charge was costing the library about $2 million per year on supplies alone. Worse, it was tying up librarians’ time. This meant wasted labor costs and poorer service to patrons. Library administrators realized that a print-for-pay system would help curb the unnecessary spending. But the system also needed to provide a better way to manage access to the 850...