That’s what a seminar I attended just 3 weeks ago was all about. One of the workshops they held which interested me was all about the important characteristics of a successful process improvement program.
To my knowledge, no one there except me had prior knowledge of Lean Six Sigma. So what did they come up with?
These general managers identified 3 important points:
1. Process improvement has to serve one goal: The Customer
Every process improvement activity should focus on the customer to deliver him better quality product or services in shorter period of time against reasonable cost. This is true, this is what you want to do with Lean Six Sigma.
You focus on the most important challenges of the organization:
a. Problems holding you back to deliver better quality (mistakes and defects)
b. Or you have problems with capacity – certain processes take too long before you deliver to the customer.
Interestingly, as you continuously work on improving quality and efficiency, you will quickly notice that your cost are declining and your revenue grows.
Sadly, many organization focus on cost cutting. As a result: you are not able to sustain good quality and lose on efficiency due to lack of resources. Wrong approach!
2. Process improvement program has to be organization-wide
Everybody in the organization has to take part of it, nobody can be excluded.
Although it has to start from top down because the management has to show leadership not only by words but also by actions in showing the importance of continuous improvement. But also the lower level of the organization down to operators, workers, they also has to be involved. Otherwise the improvements will be temporary and isolated.
The benefits will only be partial compared to what you could achieve when the whole organization was involved.
With Lean Six Sigma you start with the Managing Team and identify the important challenges of the organization and then you break those down to small projects and those projects are carried out by the project teams consisting of workers, supervisors, managers and even directors.
You’ll discover: almost everybody likes to work in such project team settings. Finally idea’s are welcome and being tested for the best solutions.
More details here:
3. Process improvement program has to go hand in hand with training and education
The General Managers of the seminar said: you have to educate the whole organization because processes will change, working procedures will be adjusted and tasks are going to be discarded. So training and education will move forward the whole improvement program.
…they said this without knowing…
In Lean Six Sigma Program you are going to follow a formal training and apply the tools and techniques in a real-life project.
Such training is available at http://www.leansixsigmabelts.com
Continuous education and learning how to use the problem-solving tools of Lean Six Sigma is key. Repeating the same phases of DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control) over and over again, will guarantee quick results and long-term improvements.
So remember what they said…
“Customer, Employee, Training”