I have personally have seen that senior management in many organizations view Lean Six Sigma as another quality improvement initiative or flavor of the month. We are often told by many engineers and managers in small and big companies that there is nothing really new in Lean Six Sigma compared to other quality initiatives we have witnessed in the past.
In response, I often ask a simple question to people in organizations who practice total quality management (TQM), ‘what do you understand by the term TQM?’ We often get many varying answers to this question. However, if we ask a bunch of Lean Six Sigma practitioners, ‘what do you know of the term Six Sigma?’ we often get an answer which means more or less the same thing that we would have expected. In my opinion, the following aspects of the Six Sigma business strategy are not accentuated in previous quality improvement initiatives:
Organizations adopting Six Sigma business strategy will have the following benefits:
- Effective management decisions due to heavy reliance on data and facts instead of gut-feelings and hunches. Hence costs associated with firefighting and misdirected problem-solving efforts with no structured or disciplined methodology could be significantly reduced.
- Increased understanding of customer needs and expectations, especially the critical-to-quality (CTQ) service performance characteristics which will have the greatest impact on customer satisfaction and loyalty.
- Increased cash flow by making processes more efficient and reliable.
- Improved knowledge across the organization on various tools and techniques for problem-solving, leading to greater job satisfaction for employees.
- Reduced number of non-value-added operations through systematic elimination, leading to faster delivery of service, faster lead time to production, faster cycle time to process critical performance characteristics to customers and stakeholders, etc.
- Reduced variability in process performance, product capability and reliability, service delivery and performance, leading to more predictable and consistent level of product quality and service performance.
- Transformation of organizational culture from being reactive to proactive thinking or mindset.
- Created new customer opportunities, improved market position relative to competitors, etc.
- Improved internal communication between departments, groups, etc.
- Lean Six Sigma creates an infrastructure of Champions, Master Black Belts (MBBs), Black Belts (BBs) and Green Belts (GBs) that lead, deploy and implement the approach.
- Lean Six Sigma emphasizes the importance of data and decision-making based on facts and data rather than assumptions and hunches!
- Lean Six Sigma utilizes the concept of statistical thinking and encourages the application of well-proven statistical tools and techniques for defect reduction through process variability reduction methods (e. g. statistical process control, Value Stream Mapping, and design of experiments).
Steven Bonacorsi is a Senior Master Black Belt instructor and coach. Steven Bonacorsi has trained hundreds of Master Black Belts, Black Belts, Green Belts, and Project Sponsors and Executive Leaders in Lean Six Sigma DMAIC and Design for Lean Six Sigma process improvement methodologies.
The AIT Group, Inc.
Steven Bonacorsi, Vice President
Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt
3135 South Price Road, Suite 115
Chandler, AZ 85248-3549
Phone: (1) 888.826.2484