Want More from Lean Six Sigma?
By Klaus Neuhaus and Peter Guarraia
published by Harvard Business School Publishing - newsletter
While Lean Six Sigma can be extremely effective in correcting manufacturing or service industry - related bottlenecks, it is less suitable for uncovering hidden sources of ineffectiveness, as well as diagnosing the biggest opportunities for improvement. To get the best value out of Lean Six Sigma, business and process - savvy companies take a “diagnostic X-ray” of their business prior to applying Six Sigma methodologies in order to identify where process changes will result in the greatest gains and improvements. This article presents a set of steps to be taken prior to applying a 5 – step DMAIC Six Sigma methodology. Lean Six Sigma is “a set of tools, techniques and a methodology that helps organizations improve their efficiency as well as their effectiveness” . “Lean” is a set of methods, initially developed by Toyota, used to ferret out waste, or non-value-added steps, in any repeatable process . “Six Sigma” developed by Motorola, is a set of methods that are used to reduce variation in any repeatable process . The authors suggest that the “diagnostic X – ray” consists of three steps: 1.Value Stream Mapping
Value Stream Mapping should be the first step taken by the X-ray team in order to map the operation’s processes and the costs associated with them – the goal is to understand what activities a company performs and where inefficiencies might be present. After Value Stream Mapping is completed, benchmarking should be used to identify appropriate performance – improvement targets, both internal and external. For example, in an insurance company (service industry type of business), with value stream maps completed for accounts setup and claims processing, the X – ray team was able to discover that claims processing took twice as much time compared to accounts setup. Having...