Lean Six Sigma | Michael L. George

Summary of: Lean Six Sigma : combining Six Sigma quality with lean speed
By: Michael L. George


Welcome to the compelling world of ‘Lean Six Sigma: Combining Six Sigma Quality with Lean Speed’ by Michael L. George. This book delves into the powerful amalgamation of two distinct performance-enhancing methodologies – Lean and Six Sigma. For a business to truly excel, it is essential to understand and implement this combined approach. With Lean focusing on process speed and efficiency, while Six Sigma targets defects and variance elimination, this summary offers an insight into achieving near-perfect results, cost savings, and high customer satisfaction. Prepare yourself to uncover the secret to a customer-centric business, strategies for creating a quality-driven culture, and tips on how to fully optimize your operations from both a Lean and Six Sigma perspective.

Lean Six Sigma: A Winning Combination

The combination of Lean and Six Sigma is an effective strategy that addresses both quality and speed in business operations. While Six Sigma focuses on eliminating defects, it fails to address time. Therefore, Jack Welch added the concept of “span,” which measures the variation in delivery times based on customers’ requests. The Lean Six Sigma approach leaves nothing to chance, ensuring that both the activities that affect the customer’s perception of quality and those that cause delays are addressed, while simultaneously keeping costs under control. The survey in Industry Week magazine showed that more than half of the firms that responded failed to achieve the world-class objective of meeting delivery deadlines 98% of the time, and a whopping three-quarters had not been able to reduce their lead times by 20% during the five years prior to the survey.

Achieving Top Business Performance

The book suggests that Six Sigma is a quality-driven methodology that aims to achieve top business performance and benefit customers, shareholders, and employees. The technique requires both Lean and Six Sigma for rapid improvement and emphasizes five key factors for success. These include customer-centricity, financial performance, management engagement, resource commitment, and execution infrastructure. Customer-centricity involves understanding customer needs and using measurable factors in the production process. Financial performance is a key focus, and leaders must add a significant amount to the bottom line each year. Management engagement requires active involvement from senior management to align Six Sigma projects with company strategy. Resource commitment mandates a percentage of staff to Six Sigma, with Champions and Black Belts being the company’s future leaders. Finally, the execution infrastructure mobilizes every level of the corporation to achieve the process improvement goal. By combining these factors, Six Sigma can help businesses achieve lasting success in performance and leadership.

Unleashing Lean Philosophy

Lean is a process philosophy that aims to eliminate nonvalue-adding time from production, reduce inventory, and enhance quality while cutting costs. Lean believes in speeding up processes by reducing the time spent waiting between steps. This is done by calculating process cycle efficiency, which involves analyzing the ratio of value-added time to total lead time. Lean management helps in reducing costs and time delays while increasing efficiency and revenue. The philosophy of Lean thrives on the laws like the Law of the Market, the Law of Flexibility, the Law of Focus, and the Law of Velocity. The Lean philosophy involves unleashing the power of efficient processes to increase revenue and productivity.

The Power of Merging Lean and Six Sigma

When Lean and Six Sigma are combined, it can bring about an 80% reduction in lead times and 20% cut in costs, resulting in a 99% improvement in delivery times. To merge them effectively, certain steps must be followed. These include involving the CEO, training the top level, dedicating the best people, and inculcating a mindset that does not allow product variations. It is also important to train Black Belts in team leadership and Six Sigma techniques while saturating the organization with Lean Six Sigma. The DMAIC formula is a useful tool to structure the path from project idea to an active project, which includes defining your project goals, measuring the problem and tracking progress, analyzing data, implementing solutions, and controlling improvements. The tollgates meetings for each step involve presentations from the team, team assessment, counseling, checking progress against schedules, and running political and organizational interference to help the team. Ultimately, dealing effectively with the human element of improvement is more critical for team success than the analytical processes and tools.

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