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  1. Gloria Robinson said

    Lean Six Sigma: “Doing The Right Things & Doing Things Right”

    By Gloria A. Robinson, PMP, CSM

    My approach to the research of Lean Six Sigma was based upon Peter Drucker’s perspective, “Efficiency is doing the Right Things; Effectiveness is Doing Things Right.”

    As an IT Project Manager, I encourage our teams to do the right things, by striving to enhance business processes via business objectives, customer feedback, industry standards and best practices. However, it’s incumbent upon management to ensure that the teams are equipped with the right skill sets, and “tool box” to effectively and efficiently “do things right.”
    Lean Six Sigma, like Six Sigma, are “tool boxes” that were developed separately, but share similarities in that they challenge teams to think, analyze “an integrated disciplined approach for improving business performance, driven by data and based upon improving processes by understanding and controlling variation, thus improving predictability of business processes.” Bill Smith

    The concept of seeking first to understand, rather than be understood comes to mind when analyzing the benefits of Lean Six Sigma. However, data driven, business process modeling are the cornerstone for a logical and systematic approach to the five phases of DMAIC problem solving process, which are:
    1)Define, 2) Measure, 3) Analyze, 4) Improve, and 5) Control.

    Wikipedia: Lean Six Sigma is a synergized managerial concept of Lean and Six Sigma that results in the elimination of the seven kinds of wastes/mud (classified as Defects, Overproduction, Transportation, Waiting, Inventory, Motion and over Processing) and provision of goods and service at a rate of 3.4 defects per million opportunities (DPMO).

    The Lean Six Sigma concepts were first published in the book titled “Lean Six Sigma: Combining Six Sigma with Lean Speed” authored by Michael George in the year 2002. Lean Six Sigma utilizes the DMAIC phases similar to that of Six Sigma. The Lean Six Sigma projects comprise the Lean’s waste elimination projects and the Six Sigma projects based on the critical to quality characteristics. The DMAIC toolkit of Lean Six Sigma comprises all the Lean and Six Sigma tools. Training for Lean Six Sigma is provided through the belt based training system similar to that of Six Sigma. The belt personnel are designated as White Belts, Yellow Belts, Green Belts, Black Belts and Master Black Belts. “

    “Lean Six Sigma, a relatively well-known approach for achieving operational excellence, can, as it turns out, do more than simply improve processes. It can help leaders discover innovation opportunities far beyond operations, enhance financial performance and create organizations that have an inherent inclination toward innovation.”
    In my experience, the right strategy, operations; coupled with an empowered team, connected to the business direction and process model; will help re-engineer companies to meet the customers’ needs. It’s true, you can educate people, but you can’t make them think.

    Lean Six Sigma, Reengineering, and Business Process Modeling are viable tools to enable you to see the “big picture;” re-think and establish a true commitment for “doing things right and doing the right things.”

    How do we know that Lean Six Sigma is the “right thing”? It works. One of the pioneers of Lean was Honeywell, which calls its program, “Six Sigma Plus,” GE, IBM, as well as, several IT Shops.

    Although, lean principles are generally well established and have broad applicability, their extension from manufacturing to IT is only just emerging.[1] Indeed, Lean IT poses significant challenges for practitioners while raising the promise of no less significant benefits. And whereas Lean IT initiatives can be limited in scope and deliver results quickly, implementing Lean IT is a continuing and long-term process that may take years before lean principles become intrinsic to an organization’s culture.[2]

    The criticisms of Lean are varied, such as John Seddon’s “Rethinking Lean Service,” white paper. He “argues that ‘lean’ has become subsumed into the ‘business as usual’ of conventional service management. As a result, ‘lean’ has become synonymous with ‘process efficiency’ and the opportunity for significant performance improvement – as exemplified by Toyota – has been missed.”

    It seems the application of Lean tools and techniques present a bit of a challenge for some service industries. “Critics of Lean Service have suggested that problems arise when companies try to apply “Lean principles” to areas where creativity, ability to react to rapid external changes, need to spend an extensive amount of time to convince external parties (typically lobbying) or ability to successfully negotiate are needed; and that the downsides of Lean are reduced / eliminated creativity and ability to cope with the unexpected.”
    Lean IT, an extension of Lean manufacturing and Lean services principles, the key concept is the elimination of waste, “where waste is work that adds no value to a product of service.” Lean principles, historically, were applied to manufacturing rather than IT. Lean IT, when limited in scope, does deliver results.


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