Lean Six Sigma is a methodology that creates processes within an organization to cut waste and improve the company’s performance. However, studies have shown that over the past decade applying Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma can create problems for companies financially and potential problems for employees. Companies should take great care before implementing a Lean Six Sigma solution because in some instances, going lean can do more harm than good both financially for the organization as well as destroying employee loyalty and moral.
The Effect of Lean Six Sigma on the Employee and the Organization
The methodology of Lean Six Sigma is the merger of two business tools that includes Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma. Six Sigma focuses on improving current business processes and performance while Lean Manufacturing focuses on the improvement of the processes of an organization by using highly skilled employees to increase speed and quality. Combining the two methodologies creates an organization that focuses on quality, efficiency and speed to lower operational costs and increase profits. By following the Lean Six Sigma methodology, many companies have attempted to create a lean, waste-free environment ultimately at the expense of the employee and occasionally at the expense of the organization. Variability and Failing the Lean Test
Creating a process is not always the answer to every organization. Organizations attempting to reduce waste may find themselves stuck trying to understand precisely where vital financial cuts need to take place. Variability can actually prevent Lean Six Sigma from working in a business environment and can sometimes impact flow in a negative way (Locher, 2007, p. 54). As demand in many organizations can be unpredictable, many employees will find the need to multitask in order to get the job done. Multitasking itself creates highly skilled employees that are required in a lean environment. Companies that employ individuals who are capable of multitasking benefit from these employees as the organization see’s a high degree of flexibility and responsiveness with a reduction in operational costs. Companies looking to cut waste in an environment where employees are already stretched thin by performing multiple duties and tasks beyond their job description could find its employees becoming even more overworked and see a larger degradation of performance due to understaffing in an effort to cut costs. These cost-cutting measures could actually do more harm than good to an organization. An organization already stretched thin financially is a desperate organization. Many employees who work for companies in this situation find themselves working in a highly stressful environment constantly fearing for their own job security. This fear will not only affect employees’ ability to perform their jobs effectively, it will also have a negative impact on the company’s environment. If an organization has a highly dedicated workforce that believes in the company and is driven to perform well for the organization, the company might see this drive diminish or disappear over time as employees lose faith in the organization they once believed in. Attempting to apply cost-cutting measures will over-extend employees who are already stretched thin and will promote an even higher stress environment.
Within the last decade, companies in the United States have invested heavily in implementing a lean environment. Many companies have attempted to cut costs wherever they see an opportunity to save money. There have been many cases documenting Lean Six Sigma successes in defect reduction, high investment returns, cycle time reduction, waste reduction, significant process improvement and an increase in customer satisfaction (Edgeman & Bigio, 2004, p. 27). The truth of the matter is, for every successful documented...