Lean Six SIGMA for Service | Michael L. George

Summary of: Lean Six SIGMA for Service: How to Use Lean Speed and Six SIGMA Quality to Improve Services and Transactions
By: Michael L. George

Introduction

In ‘Lean Six Sigma for Service,’ Michael L. George offers a powerful combination of two methodologies – Lean and Six Sigma – which, when used together, can bring about dramatic improvements in service quality and response times. By addressing both customer perceptions of quality and reducing delays, Lean Six Sigma can result in an 80% reduction in lead times and a 20% reduction in costs. This highly efficient approach fosters customer satisfaction, revenues, and cost reduction, as well as enables more predictable delivery times. The book outlines the essential elements of Lean Six Sigma, as well as providing practical guidance on how to implement this combined approach and align it with a company’s strategy.

Six Sigma’s Insufficiency

Six Sigma, while essential, is insufficient for organizational growth, according to General Electric’s CEO Jack Welch. Welch introduced a new metric, “span,” to address the variation in delivery times based on customer requests. Furthermore, the Lean Six Sigma methodology combines quality and speed to address both customer satisfaction issues and delays while maintaining cost control. Delivery time reduction plays a crucial role in business performance, yet more than half of companies responding to a survey failed to meet the industry-standard objective of arriving on schedule 98% of the time. The Lean Six Sigma culture achieves a balance of quality, speed, and predictability in achieving business objectives.

Masters of Quality: The Core Elements of Six Sigma

Harnessing the Power of Six Sigma: A Quality-Driven Culture

Six Sigma is a business philosophy that aims to achieve top performance and lasting leadership. The goal is near-perfection, and it is achieved through rapid improvement, which combines Lean and Six Sigma. To become a quality-driven organization, companies must follow six critical elements. First, customer input must be translated into measurable aspects of the production process. Critical to Quality (CTQ) elements must be identified, and failures to deliver those CTQs must be solved as defects. Second, financial performance is imperative to success, and Six Sigma focuses primarily on financial results. Third, managers must take an active role in Six Sigma and align its projects with the organizational strategy. Fourth, companies must commit between 1% and 3% of their workforce to Six Sigma. Champions and Black Belts are full-time professionals chosen for their possible leadership roles. Other staff members also need to contribute to Six Sigma projects. Finally, Six Sigma Champions must focus on the financial performance goals the CEO sets. They must then translate these goals into operational ones, turn the details over to highly trained Six Sigma Black Belts, and pursue these goals as leaders of organized teams. Every level of the organization must participate to deliver process improvement results.

Simplifying Processes with Lean Management

The concept of Lean Management is to eliminate waste, reduce costs, and improve quality to provide customers with tailor-made products. It’s a process philosophy rather than just speeding up production lines. Lean Management focuses on reducing the time spent waiting by relying on a metric called the “process cycle efficiency,” which is the ratio of “value-added time” to “total lead time.” This philosophy helps save working capital, labor expenses, storage costs and space requirements, and reduces lead-time, indirectly building revenue. By watching out for “time traps” in their processes and following the “Laws of the Market,” Flexibility, Focus, Velocity, companies can prioritize Critical To Quality (CTQ) elements, minimize batch sizes, and eliminate delays while improving production processes with Lean Management.

Achieving Improvement with Lean Six Sigma

Lean and Six Sigma, when combined, can remarkably cut lead times and costs while substantially improving delivery times. To merge them effectively, the CEO must be involved, and a clear vision with well-trained top-level managers must be created. The best people, with a mindset that does not allow product variation, should be dedicated while Black Belts are trained in team leadership and Six Sigma techniques. The DMAIC formula, which stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control, will structure the path of the project from its initial stages to completion. The human element of improvement is critical to team success, even more than the rational, analytical processes and tools. Tollgates – meetings consisting of managers, Black Belts, and Champions – should be used to assess the project’s progress, competence of the team, and run political and organizational interference to help the team. Finally, saturating the organization with Lean Six Sigma ensures that the entire company adopts the improvement technique.

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