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Lean

Capturing Financial Benefits from Lean Manufacturing

Once upon a time there was a company who decided to implement Lean manufacturing. They hired a large prestigious consulting firm who created the grand strategy and trained everyone in lean thinking. Significant operating improvements were identified. It was all documented in a report two inches thick. Teams were launched, a lot of activity took…

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Lean and Six Sigma: Fixing Healthcare a Process at a Time

With many issues facing the U.S. healthcare system the task of “fixing” it seems insurmountable, but the appropriate implementation With so many different issues facing the U.S. healthcare system the task of “fixing” it can seem insurmountable. Every healthcare executive knows the litany of challenges: rising costs, inadequate insurance coverage, capacity constraints, patient safety concerns,…

Is This a Six Sigma, Lean or Kaizen Project?

This is a familiar question that is often addressed by organizations. In fact, it is the wrong question. These concepts are nothing more than tools in your management toolbox. You don’t fix a watch with a hammer, and you get the same results when you deploy Six Sigma, Lean and Kaizen incorrectly. The fact is,…

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Applying Lean Manufacturing to Six Sigma

There are continuing questions about the relationship between Lean manufacturing and Six Sigma techniques. This relationship has been expressed as follows: Stretch the process applying Lean techniques Solve the problems of deviation from the standards Ensure maintenance of the improved status using Six Sigma techniques However, if the system and processes are too poor, stretching…

A Lean Approach to Staffing Brings Optimal Performance

Organizations are often challenged with managing seemingly unmanageable work volumes with available staff. At times, staff may feel overwhelmed with high work volumes, or underutilized during periods of low work volumes. When a management team finds itself confronting these issues, team members may ask the following questions: How can staff respond to internal and external…

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5 Lean Tools and Principles to Integrate into Six Sigma

Increasingly, organizations that use Six Sigma are making an effort to integrate Lean into their existing process-improvement framework. For many, combining Six Sigma’s focus on process quality and Lean’s emphasis on turn-around time results in more high-impact, quick-hit projects. To gain this advantage, however, organizations must face a difficult obstacle: integrating Lean without creating ripples…

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Get a Feel for Lean: Explore Application Opportunities

Extensive training and a thorough understanding of complex analytical tools are required to successfully perform traditional Six Sigma projects. Although this careful and methodical evaluation is an invaluable problem solving technique, traditional Six Sigma projects can be time consuming and must be carefully selected. Lean projects, on the other hand, are different. Lean is intuitive,…

Lean at Work…: From Factory Floor to Operating Room

Until relatively recently, many quality professionals considered the term “Lean” to only be applicable to the manufacturing giants of industry. Lean, first created as a part of the Toyota Production System, is an operational approach and methodology embraced by world-class companies around the globe. With proven results, Lean has made its way into non-manufacturing industries,…

Streamlining Coast Guard’s Accounts Payable Process

The local senior leadership of the U.S. Coast Guard Finance Center was confronted by the problem of maintaining high levels of service in its accounts payable (AP) process in the face of increasing process complexity. Compounding the issue was the fact that the center’s information technology (IT) systems had been modified to accommodate the growing…

Lean Taking Root: It Depends on Culture and Leadership

Will Lean practices take root within an organization and lead to transformational change? That depends on the organization’s culture and the role that leadership plays. Within a traditionally structured organization, ideas and direction flow primarily from top to bottom, or executive to worker level. This may be expedient in some ways, but it also can…

Fitting the Right Belts for Design for Lean Six Sigma

Every Lean Six Sigma deployment leader must eventually confront the critical decision of how the various Belt roles should be allocated and deployed throughout the organization. Lean Six Sigma has existed for more than 10 years now in a variety of manufacturing, service and distribution environments, and through trial and error fairly standard niches have…

Lean Six Sigma Improves New Hire Reimbursement Process

Roy Madsen, Senior Advisor to the CFO and Lean Six Sigma Champion at the Office of Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), said his organization had long encountered a classic catch-22: “From 5 to 10 percent of our workforce each year are people hired into entry-level examiner positions, the majority who have to move to a…

Improve Software-Development Productivity with Lean

To survive in today’s competitive software-development market, organizations need to build their capabilities around delivering the best service within customer-stipulated time frames and costs. Increasing productivity – the rate of output per amount of input – is the factor most likely to give an organization an edge over others. Many software-development organizations have realized the…

Lean First…or Six Sigma?

When initiating process improvement the question often arises which to pursue first – Lean, Agile, Six Sigma or a combination of these tools. There have been case studies surrounding the order of choice – or whether Lean and Six Sigma complement each other at all. Many Six Sigma experts have spent significant time living and…

Value in Focusing Lean Six Sigma on Distribution System

Value at the point of production does not necessarily translate into value at the point of consumption. Likewise, Lean Six Sigma initiatives focused on the factory floor do not ensure that the end user is receiving that value. As a product moves through the distribution system there are many factors that can diminish its value….

Cause-and-effect Diagrams and Lean for Service Processes

Lean improvement of service processes is somewhat different from Lean improvement of manufacturing processes. Efficiency is usually a measure of speed and cost and Lean improvement in efficiency is achieved by eliminating waste in time or resources. Effectiveness is usually a measure of quality and the overall objectives of the enterprise in that regard. If…

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Lean Delivers Faster Turnaround Time in Hospital Lab

Having found that lab results assist clinicians in more than 70 percent of their patient management decisions, Virtua Health recognized that improvements made to lab processes would have a ripple effect on patient wait times in critical departments. For instance, blood work determines many emergency department (ED) decisions, and lab test results influence patient discharge….

Lean Six Sigma Can Benefit Drug Discovery/Development

As is true throughout virtually all areas of business across diverse industry sectors, Lean Six Sigma principles and practices applied to research and development (R&D) and product development in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries have a dramatic effect on reducing cycle times and the cost of developing new technologies, products, and protocols for research and…

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Identify Constraints and Reduce Wait Time in Processes

Because I live in the suburbs, driving downtown to work can be an unnerving experience on the best of days. Even when there are no accidents or stalls, there is a particular stretch of road where the six-lane highway merges into three lanes, creating long traffic jams. Theory of constraints would suggest that there is…

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Three Lean Tools for Agile Development Environments

Agile software development delivers quick business value and at the same time remains flexible to the core, as opposed to its traditional alternative, the waterfall model. Agile involves unconventional, bottom-up, entrepreneurial and locally optimized project groups empowered to make decisions that are the best fit for individual projects. For greater design effectiveness, complexity control and…

Using the 5As to Help LEAP into Lean Implementation

The implementation of the Lean way of dong business is approached in many ways in different types and sizes of organizations. Lean is not just a set of tools and techniques that can be learned from training or certifications session and then implemented in an organization to get the ultimate results. Lean is a culture…

Software Development Convergence: Six Sigma-Lean-Agile

Some common messages are beginning to emerge from several software-relevant areas – Six Sigma for software, Agile development and Lean thinking. The links between Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) and Agile have been explored recently, but now a broader view yet can illustrate the way that Lean thinking, evolved from just-in-time manufacturing, aligns well with…

Lean Projects Aided by Understanding of Time Studies

Lean is gaining wide acceptance in these troubled times of recession across the globe. Organizations are striving to be more efficient in order to create more value for their customers. Many are using a project approach to Lean, which means focusing on a specific process and improving that process to achieve a certain output metric….

Lean and Creative Six Sigma to Solve Real-life Issues

A strong possibility exists that some organizations using Six Sigma are failing to cash in on the true potential of the methodology. This can happen when proper care is not taken to understand what needs to be integrated with the Six Sigma methodology to make it effective, comprehensive and a focused approach to solve real-life…

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Building Cultural Acceptance Key to Lean Transformation

Successful transformation to a continuous process improvement culture is arduous. It requires an enterprise approach that engages the entire organization and challenges its norms. It requires knowledge of new tools and methodologies, and a level of internal discipline beyond that in which most organizations operate. Most organizations are addicted to quick fixes and immediate results….

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When Implementing Lean, Live the Methods You Teach

Practitioners must think “lean” from the beginning when they are starting an initiative in a certain area. Part of their job is to transfer the Lean philosophy. To do this effectively, they must be role models who live Lean all day, all night, all the time – this will earn them credibility. If not, a…

Lean Services: Doing Transactions Right the First Time

In a service organization, the most efficient method for cutting waste is to attack anything and everything that is not done right the first time. This concept, known as first time right, involves making sure that all activities are carried out in the right manner the first time and every time. Examples include a customer…

Harvesting Benefits of Both Lean and Six Sigma in IT

Information technology (IT) organizations increasingly are under pressure to improve their service and process capability. In the quest for improvement methodologies, organizations often adopt a “pick one” strategy – with Six Sigma being the widely favored choice. However, it is possible to integrate Lean and Six Sigma and reap the full benefits that these methodologies can…

Ten Key Technologies for Lean Process Improvement

Home mortgage loans in the United States usually closed in about four weeks even a couple of years ago. Some on-line mortgage loan originators are doing the same closings in about two weeks now. Safeco, one of the largest insurance services providers in the country, needed a week to make any changes in coverage in…

Benefits of Connecting RFID and Lean and Six Sigma

A growing number of organizations are studying the commercial use of radio frequency identification (RFID). Several large companies have invested large sums in RFID development, and companies such as Wal-Mart plan to require RFID compliance from their suppliers. Nonetheless, many companies do not yet have a full grasp of what this technology may mean to…

Lean Template System Reduces Software Document Waste

With the growing need for reducing waste in all aspects of work done in an organization, people are looking at innovative ways to obtain this objective. One waste area, often found in organizations handling outsourced projects, is excessive – and often redundant – documentation. These organizations may be certified against a variety of standards, which…

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Lean: Relentless Pursuit of Product Value and No Waste

Lean, like other process improvement methodologies, is based on the big idea from the 1980s that a business is composed of a series of processes, a value stream, that delivers value to its customers. A process is Lean if it uses only the absolute minimum of resources (material, machines and labor) to add value to…

Learning to Think Lean: Six Steps with Review Points

Organizations can profit from learning to think in terms of Lean, a philosophy that aims to eliminate waste (in Japan, where Lean was developed, the term is muda). Lean attacks waste mainly by shortening the time between the customer order and shipment. Based on a customer-focused view, six steps can provide a strong foundation for…

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Lean Banking: It Is Not Always Just Single-Piece Flow

“Let the process flow.” “Let the customer pull.” This is what is written in manufacturing books about making processes Lean. But it is not always that simple. Consider this banking example. A customer arrives at a bank branch: He enters, is welcomed by an employee and offered a cup of coffee. He explains his interest…

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Eight Workable Strategies for Creating Lean Government

Lean government. The very idea sounds implausible. Even to the seasoned Lean practitioner, the idea of a Lean government sounds far fetched. Governments are traditionally seen as the epitome of bureaucracy, and the guardians of red tape, incomprehensible forms and endless queues. But there are workable Lean strategies for governments seeking to reduce waste and…

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Lean Manufacturing: Adapting as Important as Adopting

Lean is a wonderful experience when deployed properly and can be a nightmare when it is not. When properly deployed, a company has productive and relatively happy employees, increased efficiency, on-time deliveries and all sorts of other desirable outcomes. When it is not deployed properly, a company can have angry customers, frustrated employees, late deliveries,…

Learning to Recognize Process Waste in Financial Services

One of the biggest challenges for Six Sigma practitioners in financial services is developing the ability to recognize waste. Imagine an “overnight pack” entering Bank One’s wholesale lockbox process for processing remittance payments. By the time it has been through every step, up and down the elevators, back and forth between departments, it would have…

Applying Transactional Lean at Medical Imaging Firm

When delays and other issues began to impact patient satisfaction, University Medical Imaging (UMI) began a process improvement and training program. Located in Brighton, New York, USA, UMI provides outpatient magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), ultrasound, urography and general radiologic services. Through an initial scoping process, report turnaround time surfaced as a key…

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Making Use of DFLSS to Cultivate a Shared Compute Farm

Digital check processing. Fraud detection. Compliance monitoring. Trading floor analytics. These are all integral functions for many modern financial service institutions. And all have one thing in common – they require a huge amount of computing power. One approach to providing fast responses even with highly complex computations is distributed computing, or creating a shared compute…

Integrating Six Sigma with Lean and Work-out in Healthcare

Since its introduction nearly two decades ago, Six Sigma has been embraced by many organizations and industries involved in manufacturing and transactional services as a cost-effective way to improve quality and productivity. As a method to eliminate variation and defects, Six Sigma makes use of a structured approach and statistical tools to find the root…

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Reducing Delays in Service Processes with Rapid Setup

A P&L manager who is preparing a monthly report starts gathering the information he needs. He realizes that this month’s sales figures are not broken out by region, so he calls accounting and asks for the regional split as quickly as possible. He also discovers that he has updates on only three of the four…

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Does It Get Easier As You Get Better? It Shouldn’t

Throughout my career I’ve had the pleasure of meeting colleagues from a very large variety of manufacturing cultures. Sometimes I talk to people that work in a “mass” environment with poor performance, and I hear about how good it must be to work in an efficient workplace, with relatively good performance. I always get the…

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Let Them Be Lean! – Um, What Does Lean Mean?

Over the years, I’ve come in contact with several different companies that say that they are “lean”. Yes, TPS (the Toyota Production System) is a great framework for production, with its teachings of one-piece flow, kanban, etc…but what about the actual implementation of the lean concepts at other companies besides Toyota? I’ve seen desks with…

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The C Word

That would be… Consultants. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to speak about lean for clinical laboratories at the recent Leadership Exchange conference, hosted by the American Society for Clinical Pathology. In discussions during the conference, I was asked many questions about the use of consultants to get started with lean. In many cases,…

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Gemba Academy Intro to Lean

If you’d like to take a beginner’scourse on Lean, look to Ron Pereira’s Gemba Academy. He has releasedhis first video, Introduction to Lean Manufacturing. The clip below (and on the LSS Academy site) is the first 10 minutes of the 15 minute intro to Lean. Don’t waste another minute in Lean ignorance…

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Sensei Sue???

I was talking with a group of people about leading lean, and someone asked me, “Are you a Sensei?” So of course I said “No!” I don’t call myself a Sensei, because I consider myself to be at the grasshopper-level of lean expertise. However, the question did make me think. I call myself a Black…

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When is Lean… Not Lean?

I have been thinking a lot lately about how the Toyota Production System was developed. Unlike those of us who have books, websites, and training programs in abundance, Toyota engineers took their process of assembly-line manufacture of automobiles and created, in incremental steps, the methodology that’s now known as Lean. It took shape over a…

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Lean Travel (or not!)

I’ve spent a good part of this past summer travelling for business. In the past, I might have flown a few times a year for conferences, but this year I’ve earned quite a few “miles,” Now, I know that some of you are already experienced Road Warriors, and you are probably already laughing at me,…

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My journey towards Lean

When I started in continuous improvement (CI) four years ago it was via the traditional Six Sigma DMAIC route. I was indoctrinated into the Six Sigma world and have earned my ASQ CSSBB and can do impressive stuff with statistics. Lean was not even on the radar for me, it was just another approach that…

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