Lean Six Sigma is a methodology aimed at improving quality and efficiency in processes. It does so by using various tools and practices to eradicate waste and inefficiencies. When taking a Lean Six Sigma course, this will be your main goal. But what exactly will you learn to achieve that goal? In this blog we will go into the practices you will familiarise yourself with when you learn about Lean Six Sigma. It will show you what you can expect to learn and which skills you will have afterwards.
Finding and eliminating waste
Waste of any kind is something you would generally like to avoid, but doing so is not as easy as it sounds. The Lean Six SigmKomenwija methodology identifies 8 different kinds of waste in processes.
- Under-used talent
- Extra processing
Many improvements can be made by finding and eliminating waste across these 8 areas. You will be doing this by applying various tools to ensure the improvements.
You will be improving most processes by eliminating any waste you can find. However, a process without waste doesn’t necessarily mean no further improvement is possible. The Lean Six Sigma methodology will hence not only teach you how to improve processes by removing waste, but also by finding and implementing better ways of doing certain things.
Qualitative improvements can also be made by reducing variances in process outcomes. This is done based on data and statistical methods. That way, system performance can be improved. It is one of the principles on which Six Sigma was originally based and you can definitely expect to become well versed in this area.
Improving management- and leadership qualities
All of the Lean Six Sigma tools and practices require cooperation and support from the stakeholders (e.g. employees) involved in order to be successful. You will also have to make sure that you can count on that cooperation and support. The Lean Six Sigma methodology therefore also teach you how to work on this crucial element of process improvements.
In an ideal situation, you will be able to convince your colleagues of the benefits of process improvements and quickly gain their support. In practice, however, you will encounter quite a bit of resistance. Change is difficult for people in general and as such it is important for you to learn how to deal with that. Otherwise it will be immensely difficult, if not impossible, to properly eradicate waste and improve processes. Lean Six Sigma will provide you the skills this requires.
Initiating cultural change aimed at continuous improvement
After dealing with any resistance and gaining the support of all the stakeholders involved, your improvement project has the green light, so to speak. However, after finishing that project, you could consider it a waste to be forced to deal with new resistance when starting up the next project. Wouldn’t it be much better if you could count on support and little resistance from the get-go? Absolutely, but this requires a cultural change in the organisation. During your Lean Six Sigma training you will learn how to initiate and safeguard this cultural change.
The Lean Six Sigma methodology offers a large number of different tools and practices to achieve the aforementioned goals. Some are aimed at specific tasks, others are applicable in a broader sense. We will name a few of the most important ones here, to help you understand what kind of tools you will familiarise yourself with.
One of the most important tools in the Lean Six Sigma toolbox. DMAIC stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control. Simply put, these steps are applied in a cyclical manner. That way it helps you support continuous improvements.
Cause and effect analysis diagram
This diagram is often called the fishbone diagram as well, since it starts looking like one when you use it. It is mainly used when problem solving as a team. All of the different opinions the team members have about the root cause of an issue can be slotted into the diagram. This way it becomes easier to brainstorm about the main issue as well as possible solutions.
The 5 why’s
Another way to identify a root cause, which might be hidden, is to use the 5 why’s method. Similar to how a child tries to understand what you are telling them, you will be asking why 5 times. Each why refers to the answer to the previous why, allowing you to find the core issue in the end.
Value stream mapping
One of the techniques used to find the waste mentioned earlier. When using this tool, you will visualise the entire company process in a drawing. This means start to finish, from supplier to production and ultimately the delivery to the customer. Not only does this technique allow you to find and remove waste, it often also provides you with other valuable insights. Mapping the value stream will highlight the parts where actual value is created.
Interconnection is key
Now that you know what you can expect to learn with Lean Six Sigma, we hope you will be well prepared to get started. An important thing to remember is that all of these methods, techniques and tools work together to achieve improvements in various ways. Combined, they form the Lean Six Sigma methodology and excel in their own right. Lastly, we would like to wish you the best of luck while learning our courses!