From Strategy to Execution: Implementing Lean 6 Sigma in Your Business

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In today’s fast-paced business world, companies must go much further in their quest for efficiency. Methodologies like Lean 6 Sigma are essential additions without which your business can easily be left behind. By combining the tactics of both Lean and Six Sigma, this powerful business management strategy can help you eliminate waste, reduce defects, and achieve significant improvements in the productivity and profitability of your company.

In this article, you will find all the information you need about this method, including the steps that must be implemented in your business.  You will learn how to set implementation goals, build your professional team, and, lastly, establish sustainable improvement practices that will ensure the long-term success of your business.

You Need to First Understand What Lean 6 Sigma Truly Is

Lean 6 Sigma is a business management strategy that combines two robust methodologies. The first one is Lean, which focuses on waste elimination. The second one is Six Sigma, which has the goal of making your business’s processes more efficient by reducing their errors. Both of them have incredible potential and can help your company reach much higher levels.

By implementing this methodology, your company can achieve significant improvements in multiple success factors. First, customer satisfaction will increase because of the higher convenience and quality of your products and services. Second, the efficient processes will ensure much higher productivity. Lastly, with so many saved resources, the profitability of your business will increase. As an added bonus, all these advantages will culminate in much faster business growth.

There are five fundamental principles in this methodology. Each one of them has a specific goal, and together, they will help you achieve all the improvements mentioned above. You will start by defining the problem, measuring the factors that affect a process’s resource usage and efficiency, and analyzing the collected data. Next, you will create personalized solutions that will improve the process and strategies that will ensure the long-term effectiveness of these methods.

How to Build Your Lean 6 Sigma Team

The first task you must take care of if you want to create a proper Lean 6 Sigma team is identifying roles and responsibilities. So, you must outline the roles and responsibilities required to implement this methodology successfully. A basic structure will look something like the team leader, project manager, and team members.

Many factors will influence the methods that you must use to recruit members for your team. First, you should consider how big of a team you need. You can make the hiring process based on the belt system used in the Six Sigma method, but you will still need to make some tests to ensure your future employees really have the skills represented by the belt qualification.

There are still a couple of things that you must do. First, make sure to check the experience and extra skills to make the best possible team. Second, you must train your team before you can start working on entire projects. It’s essential to develop teamwork to high standards to avoid issues from developing later on.

Start Implementing the Methodology in Your Business

Once you have a whole team of professionals ready, you can start implementing the methodology. The first step of the process is to properly define and map every step. This is essential because you need a thorough understanding of the process and every factor that influences the usage of resources and the number of errors.

Next, a part of your team will have to collect all the data based on the created map. The data must be analyzed to find out which factors or steps of the process generate waste of resources or increase the errors that lower the efficiency. To accomplish this purpose, your team members will need to use the techniques of this methodology and the statistical tools that will make the whole project more efficient and effective.

After the analysis, you should already have an idea about the core problems of a process. So, all you have to do is to solve them. To do this, you can either use a standard solution that is proven to be effective, or you will have to create a personalized one. Your choice should be based on the particular conditions of your business.

Don’t Make This Process a One-Time Improvement – Make It Sustainable

A grave mistake that many business owners make when they try to improve the efficiency of their business is that their solutions are short-lived. They focus too much on solving the problems as fast as possible, and, as a result, they ignore the long-term effectiveness of their tactics.

If you want to improve your business’s process only once and ensure the solutions will always be effective in the future, you need to establish continuous improvement practices. One of the most common ways is to create a culture of Lean 6 Sigma in your company.  To do that in an effective manner, you must focus on three critical factors. They are communication, training, and recognition.

Do not forget to use key performance indicators (KPIs) and dashboards to measure and monitor the progress of the processes. In many cases, the solutions that you will implement won’t bring perfect results. You may have to fine-tune them to maximize their effectiveness and eliminate most, if not all, of the resource wastage and errors.

Common Challenges and Solutions That You Will Encounter

There are three common challenges that you must always take into consideration. They could make all the work involved worthless if you can’t deal with them:

  • Resistance to change. Your employees are likely to resist the changes if they break their patterns. For this reason, it’s essential to clearly communicate the benefits that they will get from these changes, the importance of their involvement, and implement training that will make the changes gradual and manageable.
  • Lack of leadership support. Make sure that the leadership of the business is also involved in these projects. It is the best way to maximize the ROI of the business successfully. This will be a challenge if your professional team is working for another company where you are not in complete control of everything.
  • Difficulty sustaining gains. These projects will require a business to invest resources in them. Moreover, the solutions that are to be implemented will also increase the costs of a business. Without proper sustainability plans, it may be hard to maintain a company’s gains until the changes start to show their effectiveness.
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