Six Sigma Trims Turnover Time for Orthopedic Surgeries

A cross functional team was involved in decreasing the turnover times for the operating rooms(OR) in orthopedic and neurosurgical spine cases at Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital in Houston, Texas. The main goal of the Six Sigma project was to improve staff satisfaction and reduce the process variability. The average turnover for the OR was set […]

To Black Belt or Not to Black Belt?

Six Sigma Black Belts receive hand-on experience of dealing with process improvement projects while gaining a leadership competency. These qualities help in making the Six Sigma Black Belts, leaders, not just in the functional but in the business expanses too. They gain a deep understanding of the working at the shop floor along with the […]

Why Six Sigma Black Belts Make Better Leaders

Six Sigma Black Belts receive hand-on experience of dealing with process improvement projects while gaining a leadership competency. These qualities help in making the Six Sigma Black Belts, leaders, not just in the functional but in the business expanses too. They gain a deep understanding of the working at the shop floor along with the […]

The Dos and Don’ts of Selecting the Right Projects for Lean Transformation

For a selected project to be successful, it is important to consider certain aspects that predict the fate of the project. Those projects which are too huge to solve, or are broken and not complete, should not be considered for Lean. Those projects which are already in the process of a major overhaul, will not […]

Finding the Green in Lean Six Sigma

Are environmental concerns a part of Lean Thinking? Well, companies such as GE and 3M have implemented Green ideas along with Six Sigma tactics and have profited from them! For GE, reduction in the amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission below 2004 levels, was a challenge they took up. Pebbles, Ohio is facility of GE’s […]

Lean Project Management: How to Apply Lean Thinking in Your Next Project

Lean Management of projects are concerned with channelizing them in the most profitable direction. Waste elimination by thinking Lean, is a concept that is used to maximize the ROI and add value to the processes. It also helps in on-time delivery by using nominal budget and resources. There are certain catchphrases that the practitioners of […]

Getting people to change

For the leadership to bring about an effective transformation across organization, the ADKAR model proves to be one of the winning formulas. This acronym translates as below: Awareness: An overall awareness of why and how the current process is incompetent, leads to recognition of the ideas that the change management proposes. Desire: Willingness to change […]

Kano Model Analysis: A Little Something Extra Can Have Big Results

Elated by an overwhelming experience at a restaurant, the author decides to examine it using the Kano Model. This Model, developed by Dr. Noriaki Kano, is designed to understand the aspects of customer satisfaction better. The first basic “Musts” curve reveals the most essential customer expectations, achieving which the customer would be neutral, but not […]

Applying Six Sigma to Improve Diagnostic Imaging

Six Sigma Methodology when applied to improve diagnostic imaging such as PET, PACS, RIS, Ultrasound etc., it brings about process improvement through optimizing the already specialized systems. The Six Sigma methodology is aimed at improving report-turnaround time, and increasing capacity and productivity. The process tries to eliminate non-value-added services, find out the root causes, and […]

Building a Strong Lean Foundation

 There are endless options for how to engage an organization, even though if you read most books that preceded our “Hitchhiker’s Guide to Lean,” you would think there was just one roadmap: Train people, do value stream maps, deploy 5S, and perform kaizen events.There must be a better way. 1. Do not, do not, do […]

The Growing Role of the Customer in Defining Quality | Quality content from IndustryWeek

It is clear that many organizations are becoming true partners with their customers in order to maximize the value for both stakeholders. Organizations’ definition of quality, the actual quality processes, and using quality measures to drive performance and culture are all closely tied to customers. Because quality and customers are so closely aligned in successful […]

The Lean Six Sigma Deployment in Tyler, Texas

In 2008, Susan Guthrie was the communications manager of the City of Tyler, Texas, (current interim city manager) and a General Electric-trained Green Belt. She approached the assistant city manager at the time, Mark McDaniel, with the idea of implementing Lean Six Sigma (LSS) in the City. Guthrie recalled, “The City’s culture of continuous improvement was […]

Lean Principles Must Expand Beyond Shop Floor

As a sales rep for Tier 2 and 3 suppliers to original equipment manufacturers starting in the mid 1980s, I remember trying to comply with the JIT and SPC requirements of my customers. I took an intensive 100-hour class in 1993 to get my certificate in Total Quality Management to be prepared for the future, […]

How to Prioritize the Steps in Your Lean Journey

To overcome the organizational paralysis that comes from overanalyzing lean projects, manufacturers can benefit from faster implementation of solutions that are “good” rather than “perfect” with a commitment to leverage iterative development more frequently in their processes. It has become increasingly important to show rapid results along the lean journey. While this is critical to […]

Case Study: Applying Resource Modeling to IT Problem

Resource utilization is managed using models. These models are created based on multiple influencing variables or factors. The goal is to balance resources – including people and skill levels – to achieve higher service levels, lower costs and other benefits. Widely used across industries, resource modeling functions as an efficient decision-making tool. Some successful applications […]

Why Finance Can Be More Dangerous than Poor Quality

Henry Ford achieved world-class results with three key performance indicators (KPIs), none of which were financial. His successors’ changeover to financial metrics, on the other hand, caused the company to forget what we now call the Toyota production system. Henry Ford’s creation of what we now call lean manufacturing is an excellent reason to listen […]

Planting the Seeds – The Concept Tree

Many organizations have attempted to implement some form of project management into their organization with different degrees of success. Implementation success varies by the awareness and method to which the program was introduced, often leaving many feeling that LSS is just another flavor of the month. Once the awareness of the benefits that LSS can […]

Hoshin Kanri Helps Toyota Improve for the Long Term

When the 2008 Lehman Brothers bankruptcy triggered a global recession, Toyota Motor Company lost money. In December of that year, with a photo of Toyota board members bowing in shame, a New York Times headline trumpeted, “Toyota Expects its First Loss in 70 years.” “They’ve caught the same cold that Detroit has caught,” said Christopher […]

The Role Culture Plays in Continuous Improvement

Imagine walking through a business and discovering that all of the employee communication boards are six months out of date. Imagine that the red, yellow, green production status lights were all set to green and then overhearing an employee say that he could not remember the last time someone used the yellow or red status […]

How to Win Support for Continuous Improvement Programs and Projects

Gaining support to implement and sustain a continuous improvement program is an oft-voiced concern of Lean Six Sigma (LSS) practitioners. These concerns reflect frustration in both senses of the term –  feeling frustrated personally and encountering attitudes that frustrate the effectiveness of the program. Three sets of skills and methods have shown success in gaining […]

7 Steps for Leading Lean with Respect for People

Without mastering these seven foundational behavioral skills, even with their heart in the right place, leaders fumble their presence at the gemba and, consequently, feel disappointed by the bottom-line results they get from their lean efforts. With Lean Thinking, Jim Womack and Dan Jones ushered a true (and rare) revolution in management thinking: To deliver […]

Is There a Role for Six Sigma in a Lean Transformation?

There is definitely a place for Six Sigma as part of a lean transformation. The only downside I’ve seen over the years to a “Six Sigma initiative” is that sometimes overzealous advocates squander scarce resources chasing near perfection when it simply isn’t necessary and doesn’t make good business sense. Here’s how I think about a […]

How to Create a Successful FMEA Program

Imagine a team has performed a couple of failure mode and effects analyses (FMEAs) and the outcomes have been positive. In fact, the results have been so successful that the company wants to expand use of the technique enterprise-wide. How can this best be done? Most companies start their FMEA programs by performing process FMEAs. […]

5 Keys to Guarantee a Successful Launch to Your Lean Journey

All too often, decisions are made based on the opinions of those who management deems the “smartest” on the team. When they say, “I think…,” this causes executives to base their decisions on the esteem with which they hold that individual, rather than the value and integrity of the suggestion itself. At the outset of […]

Do Monetary Incentives or Rewards Drive Continuous Improvement?

This question is often one of the more controversial and hotly debated topics with companies striving to achieve and sustain excellence. There is certainly no right or wrong answer here, but I’m happy to share my personal experience with this dilemma. It’s a very company- and facility-specific set of circumstances that must be understood before […]

Five Steps to Making Performance Improvement Stick

Identifying the best ways to encourage teams to come up with suggestions of performance improvement, recognize the tools and tricks which are best to identify changes and rewarding employees who contribute to performance improvement, could be a time consuming task. However it is extremely important to create an environment where the changes sustain and performance […]

A Comparison of Measurement System Analysis Metrics: Part 2 of 2

A simulation study was undertaken to quantify the relationship between guard banding, percent tolerance (also known as the precision-to-tolerance [P/T] ratio), and the probability of misclassification – all in the presence of varying distributions for both part values and gage error. A response surface designed experiment was utilized to generate a balanced set of factor level […]

A Comparison of Measurement System Analysis Metrics: Part 1 of 2

Measurement system analysis has been a major part of process characterizations and improvements, with key guidance from the original Automotive Industry Action Group reference manual. There has been some critical review, particularly of summary metrics such as gage repeatability and reproducibility (GR&R) and percent tolerance (also known as precision-to-tolerance ratio) and what are considered acceptable […]

Is Your Company Solving the Right Problems?

If you want to solve problems in your business and see positive results, then start asking the right questions. How many times have you and your colleagues identified a business critical problem, conducted intense ainstorming sessions, developed a seemingly flawless improvement strategy, and gone forth to execute the plan — only to realize that productivity […]

Why Manufacturers Should Take a Lean Approach to Pricing

Manufacturers that rely on forward-looking predictive models to set prices are able to identify and reduce wasteful pricing processes while reducing over-discounting. It’s well-established that manufacturers who follow lean principles create significant profitability improvements over time, all while meeting and exceeding customer expectations. From production line workers to the board of directors to sales and […]

Manage Control Limits When Implementing Statistical Process Control

Statistical process control (SPC) is the application of statistical methods to identify and control the special cause of variation in a process. Control charts, in theory, are used in product and process development to analyze processes. When a process is shown to be in control in both an average and range chart the process can […]

Case Study: Increasing Machinery Throughput Without More Machines

Too often manufacturing operations are quick to look at a technological solution or other capital investment to solve a problem, when leaders already have all they need right in front of them. An investment in human capital can make quick gains for less money. Consider the following example. In the Midwest a manufacturing company with […]

How to Build More Impactful Centers of Excellence

The critical issue when it comes to COEs isn’t whether the work they’re doing is important to the business. It is how to ensure that their effort isn’t wasted. This article provides two recommendations for how to best leverage the Center of Excellence model in support of business results. Over the course of my career […]

Case Study: Maximizing the Response of Fire Services to Medical Calls

The City of Kawartha Lakes, Ontario, Canada, was formed in 2001 by a Provincial Order to amalgamate 16 lower-tier municipalities and one upper-tier county into one corporation. Although called a City, the municipality is mostly rural. The City is approximately 3,059 km2. Due to its large rural area, the City has 21 fire stations, comprised […]

Case Study: Improving Recruitment Processes – Part 2 of 2

The HR team sought to reduce the time and effort involved in finding good candidates for open positions. (Note: The details of the process have been condensed and modified for the sake of confidentiality and easy of storytelling.) As in Part 1 of this article, which addressed the cycle time to fill open positions, Part […]

Case Study: Improving Recruitment Processes – Part 1 of 2

In this case study, a team strives to improve the recruiting process in a large, fast-moving consumer goods company. Rising attrition is a common problem across industries. Tight monthly, quarterly and annual objectives leave little room for error when it comes to having the required manpower being available consistently. Unwanted attrition results in two significant […]

Manufacturing Critical-path Time: A Measure of True Lead-Time

Manufacturing critical-path time (MCT) is the time it takes a manufacturer to satisfy unanticipated demand through normal processing. The typical amount of calendar time from when a customer creates an order, through the critical-path until the first, single piece of that order is delivered to the customer. It is common sense to think that the […]

The Path to Operational Excellence Through Operational Discipline

Operational discipline means complying with a set of well-thought-out and well-defined processes, and consistently executing them correctly. Striving to achieve operational excellence is one of the most important contributors to an organization’s sustainable performance and growth. But what exactly is “operational excellence”? It isn’t necessarily a destination; rather, it is an ongoing journey that organizations […]

What Motivates Blockers to Resist Change?

Blockers; they are people who deliberately try to stop or slow down a process improvement. They can be found in any and every organization and are not necessarily the conventional, senior members. In fact, they can very well be young professionals who are not adaptive to changes. Studies have revealed 4 types of blockers who […]

10 mistakes to avoid when trying to create a Business Process Improvement culture

Practitioners of Lean Six Sigma highlight 10 mistakes that can hamper the implementation of process improvement culture within an organization. #1: Lack of leadership focus: Only when the leader is focused towards process improvement, will the management and employees be forced to participate in following the same culture. It is but a very critical requirement […]

5 trends reshaping the Lean landscape

  Lean is at an interesting crossroads in its storied history. There are at least two dimensions to this juncture. On one hand, some industries feel they have already implemented Lean and are looking for ‘the next new thing’. On the other hand, other industries such as healthcare are experiencing the joy of lean experimentation […]

Supplement FMEA with a Risk Priority Matrix for Better Results

Within the world of risk management – a common aspect of improvement projects – there is a distinction between response and mitigation. A response is taken in reaction to risk, while mitigation is undertaken proactively. Thus, responses are implemented once risk materializes, and mitigation actions must be planned and implemented before a risk presents itself. […]

It’s the People That Matter

Lean first entered the healthcare industry 15 years ago; however, people are still a little terrified as to how its implementation will affect them. Six Sigma on the other hand has been there for even longer in healthcare industry. Originally, hospital organisations didn’t know much about Lean so they tried to find out about it […]

Drive Improvements in Outbound Telesales with Lean Six Sigma: Part 2 of 2

Lean Six Sigma in Telesales The first part of the article talked about ways to address the NVA (non-value added) processes to optimize outbound telesales. Agent-assisted automation is a technology that can help to keep them under check. This system basically automates the work of an agent thus eliminating the chances of dialing wrong numbers, […]

Drive Improvements in Outbound Telesales with Lean Six Sigma: Part 1 of 2

Outbound Telesales is an arena that sees a lot of scope in terms of improvement. This is one of the very few sectors which might keep the management engaged. That is because, improvement in this area means not just increased revenue but also decreased cost in sustaining the revenue. Lean Six Sigma in Telesales elucidates […]

Micromanage the Process by Respecting People

In a financial services company a business unit was undergoing a serious and sudden productivity crisis. The reports showed the numbers which validated the plummeting performance and the company’s president wanted to know the reason of the productivity crisis and what would be done to fix it. After the review of the report, the vice […]

Case Study: Using the 5 Whys to Validate Assumptions

5 whys analysis To find the solution to a problem, it is necessary to underline the root cause of the issue. 5 whys analysis brings out the true factor that causes the defect. A large West Coast Marina wanted a root cause analysis for the excessive time consumption for processing and collecting the moorage fee. […]

How Your Brain Gets In The Way: Why Lean Works and When It Doesn’t

There are times when we cannot comprehend an obvious problem that is right in front of the eye. There are also times when the same set of data is interpreted differently by two sets of people. Lean practitioners conclude that it is because our brain is not into reality. Although occasions of brain not being […]

Let’s Replace “Resistance” with “Objection”

The word resistance is often used to describe people who choose not to support the change management plan. While they do hamper the plausible improvement of an existing system, but branding them as resistance, has its own negative effects. In fact, as soon as they are branded, it leaves little scope for understanding them, and […]

When it comes to innovation, do you see problems or possibilities?

The Amazon controversy of using unmanned aircraft – drones – to deliver packages to customers in 30 minutes or less shows that, when it comes to innovation, the world is divided into two types of personalities. These are referred to as the 2 P’s – the first one stands for ‘Possibilities’; this is a set […]

Why Big Changes Require Many Small Changes: Kaizen and Kaikaku

There seems to be a fundamental difference between the words ‘kaizen’ and ‘kaikaku’. While ‘kaizen’ is used for small changes, ‘kaikaku’ refers to a major overhaul of the entire process. But, Toyota understands the two terms differently. It practices to undergo many small changes, for one big change. An example that Toyota set, is when […]

6 ways Six Sigma can benefit your company

Six Sigma offers to eliminate any defects in an existing process, using tools such as DMAIC and DMADV. Out of the many benefits an organization might have, by adapting these methodologies, 6 are worth elucidating because they might not be what the company called for initially, but they do make an overall impact. #1: High […]

Losing the Race in the Last Mile: Why Lean/Six Sigma Initiatives Fail and What to Do About It

The failure of the initiatives by Lean Six Sigma in the final stages most often than not is due insufficient funds and human support. Any change needs to be supported consistently for a while to get the desired results and when that does not happen then the severity of old habits pulls the organization back […]

Freezing Change Starts at the Top

Ever thought about why an ice cube floats? Or, for that matter, an iceberg? Why does a pond freeze from the top down, rather than the bottom up, as it would if it were filled with almost any other liquid? And what does any of this have to do with change management? It has to […]

Tools Used In Lean – Benchmark Six Sigma Learn & Share

Even though Lean and Six Sigma are more than a set of tools. Here are some commonly used tools / methodologies in Lean: Waste Identification Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) Continuous Improvement (Kaizen) Value Stream Mapping (VSM) Metrics (Cycle Time, TAKT Time, Process Cycle Efficiency) Planning (A3, Hoshin-Kanri) Mistake Proofing (Poka-Yoke) See full story on

Financial Incentives Won’t Deliver Culture Change

Do money awards motivate? Does being selected employee of the month drive desired behaviors? Does winning a free lunch for the best idea grow the number of good ideas filling up the improvement pipeline? Financial incentives, individual awards and team awards are key components for many continuous-improvement or change-management programs. But whether they help or […]

Lean Six Sigma, care coordination heals fragmented hospital

A holistic approach Mercy St. Vincent aimed to reduce waste, wait times, non value-added work, and rework and develop a set of new standard operating procedures, measures, and milestones. When it started the improvement initiatives in 2007, it found, like many health systems, its work and therefore quality measures were unit-specific and didn’t always paint […]

Finding the Sigma Level of Customer Complaints

In the beginning of a deployment, many companies set a goal of 3.4 defects per million opportunities (DPMO) using Six Sigma quality concepts in production, and later extend this concept to other operational areas. Fewer companies, however, have extended Six Sigma from a manufacturing application to manage customer satisfaction or customer complaints. But it is […]

A Project Charter Communication Strategy Is Essential

Six Sigma Black Belts, Master Black Belts and Project Champions, when embarking on a DMAIC, DMADV or Process Management project, need to be aware of the importance of establishing a communication plan when developing and validating a team charter. A finely executed Black Belt project can suffer disappointing results if an efficient mechanism is not […]

Case Study: Using DOE to Reduce Wasted Supplies in CTU

The quality of environmental hygiene in hospitals is under increasing scrutiny from both healthcare providers and consumers because the prevalence of serious infections due to multidrug-resistant pathogens has reached alarming levels. The transfer of gram-positive bacteria, particularly methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), among patients is a growing concern. One critical factor for […]

Kum & Go, other retailers find opportunity in eliminating error

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Whether it is called continuous improvement, lean manufacturing or Six Sigma, the basic concept is the same: Find and neutralize the variations–or errors–a company makes on a daily basis that prevent it from operating as efficiently as possible. Kum & Go LC has practiced Six Sigma for several years, considering […]

Seven Deadly Sins of Business Process Management

Business process management is not as safe as it might seem. There are 7 errors (better addressed as sins) that the process improvement team must avoid. ‘Management’ doesn’t always mean the same: Process Automation is not Process Management. For a process improvement to be effective, understanding the requirement of the business is crucial. Redundancies, and […]

Announcement: The Mighty WOMBAT: A Simple Approach to Finding Muda

WOMBAT stands for Waste Of Money, Brains And Time. For those who work in the forefront of the process need to understand and apply Lean process improvement methodologies soon to observe results. It is crucial to conduct training or lean process improvement workshops which are based on Lean principles for these workers. Lean process improvement […]

Announcement: Implementation of Six Sigma Tollgate and Priority Matrix

Six sigma initiatives have become a regular and necessary technique to reduce the costs of the company. But implementation of individual ideas often conflict with the overall culture, and policies of the organization. One of the major barriers in implementing seemingly significant process improvement ideas, is when they clash with the holistic view. That’s when […]

Announcement: Six Sigma leadership takes the trauma out of change- a Lean Six Sigma Change

The purpose of Six Sigma is to organize, analyze and promote the best people and business processes to increase effectiveness and profitability. The use of Six Sigma leadership tools helps in making the change accepting process easier and simpler for everyone. The management and people must be informed about company’s current financial situation and the […]

Announcement: Successful Lean Six Sigma Projects Start with Proper Metric Selection

To evaluate a successful shift in a project, measuring the metrics before and after the implementation is crucial. It will then define, that the analysis and resolution of the problem were calculated and not by chance. An instance where a suitable metric was required, is when company XYZ wanted to measure and evaluate why it […]