Lean concept though has been cited in ancient Japanese folklore, it was introduced as a Management methodology by Toyota around 1940s to improve their auto business. Since then there has been no looking back for Lean. Several organizations both from Manufacturing and Service sectors have embraced Lean and reaped huge dividends.
Six Sigma developed at Motorola around 1970s specially to sort out quality problems. Six Sigma takes the idea of quality to a whole new level. A process that operates at Six Sigma has 3.4 or lower defects per million opportunities.
Six Sigma is far and away the most mathematically driven method for reducing waste and errors in an organization. Measuring your business from a Six Sigma perspective requires time, dedication and company-wide participation; hence, it is definitely not for everyone. Though there is a certain magic to seeing a company from a purely mathematical perspective. For one it can transfer a desperate business situation into one that can be optimistically turnaround. All one must do is reduce € in the equation y = F(x) + €
Tip: Use a Pivot Table to perform fast, detailed analysis on large data sets. Once you set up a Pivot Table the way you want it, it will continue to operate and update as you add to or modify the data behind it.
Tip: Pareto principle is that 80% of negative results are due to 20% of inefficiencies. Identifying the inefficiencies that make the biggest impact can lead to fast and tremendous improvements in efficiency across an organization via Six Sigma.
Kaizen as a concept is even older than Lean. Kaizen in Japanese means ‘Make Better’. Kaizen is the art and science of consistently and continually improving a process in small steps. Accrued over time, such incremental improvements result in huge benefits. Kaizen is best for Lean organizations, small teams and organizations that give employees some degree of autonomy and responsibilities.
Kaizen is not a one-time planned process but rather an approach to work that places the focus on greater business efficiency e.g. Kaizen in a series of constant small improvement. Kaizen improvement would never add difficulty or unpleasantness to an employee’s workflow. Employees are highly involved in the Kaizen-based business improvement process via all types of Kaizen be it Gemba Kaizen, Modular Kaizen etc.
Tip: Get people that don’t know the process involved in the Gemba Walk, as they come in with open mind and are more likely to ask critical questions.
What tools are available for researching the far-reaching implications of a potential solution before you implement it?
There are over 100 Continuous Improvement tools to choose from. The choice of tool depends on the size of the organization and the size of its problem. However, Value Stream Mapping is a favorite tool to begin with, to take a bird’s eye view of the process, problems and decide whether improvement is required and what would be its impact on company’s over all financials.
It’s said a leaky pot never gets filled-up. Same is true for a problematic business process. The process will never truly gets sorted out unless root cause(s) for the inefficiencies are identified and solved. Brainstorming, 5 Whys, Control Charts, Ishikawa diagram may be used to identify root causes of problem.
Tracking inefficiencies in your organization comprises of 5 steps. Here’s unfolding business transformation roadmap-
- Measuring where you are now (and subsequently where you are along the way)
- Figure out opportunities for improvement and potential ways to realize that improvement.
- Considering the immediate and far-reaching consequences of potential solutions.
- Setting goals
- Executing a clearly defined project plan to achieve those goals.
Once the root cause is identified, the next step is to find potential solutions to plug the problem. Employee suggestions, voice of customer (VOC) and Brainstorming may be used to generate problem-solving ideas.
Last but not the least, it is vital to remember that effective business transformation is not possible without strategic and a flawless implementation plan, regular monitoring and sustaining continual improvement efforts.
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