There is a lot of discussion in the industrial arena about Lean Enterprise and Six Sigma. Many times, it appears that authors promote their focus on one of these best practice approaches, and discuss the other as if it were a competing or opposing view. If we take a deeper look, however, we should see there is great synergy and value in appropriately combining these powerful approaches.
An effective continual improvement program needs to include involvement from everyone in the organization. Achieving this level of cultural awareness takes time and must be nurtured employee by employee. One of the first questions that employees ask is, “What do you want me to do?” If we can’t define the roles we want employees to play when it comes to improving processes, how can we expect a cultural transformation to take place?
DMAIC comes to us from the Six Sigma community and PDCA comes out of the Lean community. 8D (Eight Disciplines) was developed by Ford Motor Company to solve problems. All three are valid roadmaps on which you can hang any of the tools for analyzing processes.
Today more than ever, organizations are faced with the challenge to reduce costs and increase capacities while delivering increasingly better products and services. Facing global competition in the marketplace, organizations are struggling to be competitive, struggling to be profitable, and most importantly, struggling to survive. Dr. W. Edwards Deming once commented, “It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.” With the reality of going out of business, organizations in all industries are asking, “How do we change our approach to business to keep us relevant in our industry?”
As a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt, I’ve been known to think differently than others and my family has noticed. And many people have no idea what it is or what it means. “Martial arts? When did you do that? And what does Lean Six Sigma mean?” Ugh! They’ll never understand. Or, maybe this is the perfect opportunity to let them see me in action and they might just gain some insight into, “What is Six Sigma?”