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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Financial Metrics 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, with varying degrees of success, tried to implement project management in their organizations. The success rate depends on the awareness of the people undergoing the Lean Six Sigma Program. If the assumption is that LSS is mere flavor of the month, the implementation and outcome takes a hit. Once the awareness is […]

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 […]

Legal transformation: Gather the data, Establish a baseline, Realize a win

  In 2010 BT undertook a process excellence project – their aim was to improve efficiency and bring down costs within their legal departments, both internal and external. The project was headed by Chris Fowler, General Counsel, UK Commercial Legal Services at BT. As with all operational excellence projects, it wasn’t easy, but the hard […]

Why Continuous Improvement can be ground breaking in education development

  Superintendent Patricia Greco of the School District of Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin claimed that “Education as a profession is attempting to jump from initiative to initiative rather than trying to imbed principles of improvement into the system.” In a world where change, innovation and process excellence have become convention; why is education – the root […]

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 […]

Operational Excellence trends in financial services

  Given the on-going legislative upheaval within financial services, it’s no wonder that there’s a lot of noise surrounding Operational Excellence. The question on our lips though is this: Is it just noise, or are there real moves towards achieving the excellence the industry says it aspires to? This year, ahead of Operational Excellence Financial […]

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 […]

Is it time to move from process to performance excellence?

  Companies have for years implemented various methodologies for improving processes in order to increase efficiency, reduce costs, improve customer satisfaction and ultimately, drive better business results. The Twentieth century saw some of the greatest advances in “process” thinking, with an emphasis on continuous improvement. These include the development of Statistical Process Control, the Toyota […]

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 […]

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 brainstorming sessions, developed a seemingly flawless improvement strategy, and gone forth to execute the plan — only to […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Lean Six Sigma in Telesales : 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 […]

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 […]

Continuous improvement: Limits or Basis for Innovation?

  Standardization is something that people are expected follow like law. In The Toyota Way Fieldbook, a house was brought into use to exemplify the various types of standards. Specifications for standardization of the product and process generally come from engineering, and standard processes come from a variety of specialty departments. Toyota encompasses all the […]

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 […]

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

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 benchmarksixsigma.com

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 […]

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; 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 […]

Operational Excellence: Customer Complaint Management

Technology centric companies like Enterprise Quality Management Software (EQMS), are developing complaint management into strategies to shut the loop on quality management. People’s complaints on unfavorable experiences help in spotting the quality issues. Only then they conveyed back to design, which helps in increasing total quality and decreasing the Cost of Quality. Complaint management helps […]