How To Begin With Lean Six Sigma

By Gary Reed


Many of the top companies in the world want to improve processes, eliminate waste and save money. A Lean Six Sigma project can be time consuming, but the outcome is certainly worth the effort and training that will be put into working to streamlining the way things are done.

The progression is through several phases; Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control. Involving a number of different people from throughout the organization can shed light on various views of the problem as well as the solution. Having input from others can really help in gathering data as well.

The beginning step, define, simply means to define what the problem is. This is best accomplished by developing a problem statement that describes what the challenge is. Next, detail what the end goal is through the development of a goal statement. The current process can be mapped so that it is well understood. Finally, identify who will best benefit by solving the problem is, usually a customer, by outlining what they require of the process.

The next phase is Measure. Data collection plans are outlined with plans in place to be sure that the data is collected consistently and accurately throughout the phase. Initial data is collected and out into charts. This is a good time to add people to the team that can help with the collection of it and may identify other areas where more information should be added.

Next, the data collected in the measure process is analyzed in the Analyze phase. The processes in place a scrutinized and the data that has been collected is organized and displayed using a number of tools and charts. The team can get together and come up with ideas for what is causing the problem.

Gather the team now to brainstorm potential solutions to the issue in the Improve phase. Map what the new process might look like and implement it to test the validity of the solution. Plan to collect more data to ensure that it will actually improve the process. Make sure that the data that is collected is in line with the data collected during the measure phase to ensure it is relevant and accurate.

Finally, in the control phase, it is important to come up with steps that will be out in place to ensure that the new processes are followed. The outcome should be shared with the rest of the organization as it may be useful in other process improvements. Celebrating the successes of the team involved is important.

North Carolina has a number of organizations that have seen success with the implementation of this process. It is wonderful to see the benefits that can come from spending the time on each step and reaping the rewards of the outcome.




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