The article Six Sigma, the Baxter Way at features an interview with Allen Harmon, the director of operations at Baxter’s Biologics facility in Hayward, California. The question/answer session reveals details on how this Baxter facility is using Six Sigma and Lean in their operational excellence program.

Noted in the interview, Harmon states that Baxter corporate treats each facility as if it were an independent small business, responsible for its own strategic plan and profit and loss. Each facility receives support for continuous improvement and corporate holds forums each year for plant managers to share best practices. This hands-off approach empowers employees and is a contributing factor in the success of their initiative.

Particularly take note of the phrase “top down” in the quote below. Traditionally top down is used to express executive support for a Six Sigma initiative, but here, top down means their business objectives identify the areas of the business they will improve:

“PhM: How did you approach establishing the operational excellence program at Hayward?

“A.H.: We took a “top down” approach, starting with strategic objectives. We then figured out what organizational structure we’d need, and did some value-stream mapping to determine the gap between where we are and where we want to be. The next step was staffing cross-functional teams with representation from key areas, including manufacturing and operations, mechanics, quality, engineering. Finally, we determined which products we needed to focus on, and used elements from Six Sigma, Kaizen and Lean to analyze where improvements could be made, and which improvements would have the most significant impact on quality. These efforts involved team members as well as Green and Black Belt specialists.”

Article and Links

Six Sigma, the Baxter Way,, October 11, 2005

Baxter Looks to “Lean” Tools to Improve Safety Performance, Baxter Website, July 2005

Baxter Integrates “Lean” and “Clean” into Environmental Program, Baxter Website, July 2005

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