Lean Six Sigma
IBIS UvA approach
The twentieth century saw an incredible development of professional organizations. The impact of technological advances is obvious, but besides these, innovations in management structures and methods have resulted in the highly productive organizations of today. When the race for outperforming competitors on quality and efficiency gained momentum, companies started to copy each other’s best practices. Consultants and management gurus quickly jumped in and started giving names to these best practices: total quality management, just-in-time, business process reengineering, statistical process control, quality circles, lean manufacturing, continuous improvement, et cetera. Out of these methods, principles and approaches time has singled out the ones that really have added value. And while most approaches have been presented as panaceas at one time or another, time has shown that they are in fact complementary.
Lean Six Sigma is not revolutionary. It is built on principles and methods that have proven themselves over the twentieth century. It has incorporated the most effective approaches and integrated them into a full programme. It offers a management structure for organizing continuous improvement of routine tasks, such as manufacturing, service delivery, accounting, nursing, sales, and other work that is done routinely. Further, it offers a method and tools for carrying out improvement projects effectively. In an economy which is determined more and more by dynamics than by static advantages, continuous improvement of routine tasks is a crucial driver of competitiveness.
- Improvement and redesign of routine tasks (manufacturing processes, service delivery, marketing, healthcare procedures, sales, et cetera).
- Resulting in superior quality and efficiency.
- Cost advantages: superior productivity and equipment utilization, avoidance of capital expenditure, working capital reduction.
- Advantages derived from superior customer satisfaction: reduced price sensitivity, growth of revenue or market share.
- Competence building in manufacturing or service delivery virtuosity.
- Competence building in continual and company-wide improvement and innovativeness.
- Professional and science-like problem solving.
- Precise and quantitative problem definition.
- Data-based diagnosis.
- Innovative generation of new ideas.
- Field-testing of ideas before implementation.
- Programme management consisting of a Lean Six Sigma director, programme managers (daily management), and Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belts (knowledge resources).
- Project management consisting of a Champion (project owner) and a Black Belt or Green Belt (project leader).
- Resources: experts, shopfloor personnel.
Acknowledging that process improvement requires intimate context knowledge and acceptance by the shopfloor, Lean Six Sigma favours project leaders from the line organization to staff personnel and external consultants. Acknowledging as well the importance of strategic focus and integration, Lean Six Sigma prescibes that projects be monitored and reviewed by Champions and programme management.
- optimization of process and machine settings (resulting in superior yield or quality)
- line balancing and process flow enhancement (resulting in reductions in operational cost and better controlled lead times).
- thorough analysis of stubborn problems and trade-off situations. (resulting in a complete overview of the various options and once-and-for-all solutions).
- decreasing length of stay
- ensuring patient safety
- optimization of equipment utilization
Finance and service:
- backoffice efficiency: less rework, reduction of overcapacity, processing time reduction, lead time reduction (resulting in superior service quality and lower operational cost).
- more effective customer acquisition and retention (resulting in market share growth).
Product and process development:
- More robust, less error prone, and simpler products and processes.
- Better translation of functional requirements to product and process design.
- Shorter time to market, owing to early warnings and early feedback from the field.