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Has the Era of Lean Six Sigma Gone?

Six Sigma – iSixSigma Forums General Forums General Has the Era of Lean Six Sigma Gone?

This topic contains 28 replies, has 14 voices, and was last updated by  Brian B 2 years, 4 months ago.

Viewing 29 posts - 1 through 29 (of 29 total)
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  • #55059

    Mohit Sharma
    Participant

    Six Sigma is a proven continuous improvement methodology that has been used in manufacturing world from time immemorial. In 5 years of the Y2K, this methodology started penetrating into the service industry that efficiently enhanced enterprise experiences. Major organizations like GE/Genpact have started using this methodology extensively. It is a fantabulous methodology to drive process improvement initiatives with more than 80% of success rate. Six Sigma is a Data driven approach, where projects can take 3~6 months to deliver world class solutions with superior control.
    At the same time another methodology called “Lean”, started making news as it was considered to be a faster and a cheaper process improvement approach than Six-Sigma. However because of dearth of statistics’ use and application, the solutions and control in the improved state were feeble. Quality experts started comparing which one between the two is better to implement. Over a period of time when experts started using both the approaches, they realized that there should not be either/or in the two methodologies, it should be an amalgamation of both. The new methodology is called Lean Six Sigma (LSS), where best of both worlds i.e. Six Sigma and Lean come together to deliver process improvements.
    With my experience of working in different organizations and with external breathing, I know few organizations which claim that they are not using six sigma however they are still using the imperative elements of six-sigma. Tools like, hypothesis testing which strengthen the data analysis, Checking measurement system analysis using Gage R&R, control plan and control charts to help sustain improvements were included as part of Lean project methodology. So if you look at the new Lean methodology, it is using lean Value stream maps, data analysis, hypothesis testing, Kaizens and control charts to sustain the improvements. So the nomenclature to the methodology as Lean Six Sigma fits the bill perfectly.
    Now in 2014 we are at the brink of another paradigm shift as organizations are little restless with LSS methodology as well. This methodology is not a differentiator for companies anymore. Practitioners are saying that organizations using lean, six sigma are destined to wrestle for nickels. In today’s dynamic business environment, organizations now need disruptive thinking and innovative problem solving techniques. New Methodology of innovation with a revised nomenclature would possibly use decent portions of LSS methodology and a few selected new tools. This would be a perfect analogy to the popular adage – “old wine in a new bottle”. Let me illustrate this with some examples:
    1. There is a new methodology called innovative problem solving techniques (TRIZ). This methodology in my view should be a complimentary methodology to Lean Six Sigma. A critical insight that we hear from LSS projects is that they don’t recommend ‘out of the box’ solutions to the problems and TRIZ can help strengthen the Improve phase of DMAIC methodology by the use of Fantasy principles, Contradiction Analysis and so on. I really don’t know what we should call this methodology if we merge the two. Should we start calling it ILS (Innovative Lean Six sigma)?
    2. Second upcoming methodology on problem solving is Fast Works. It is relevant in the predefine phase of a LSS/DMAIC projects. Fast Works as a methodology talks about the approach to reach the market faster to get the input at the build stage of the product design and incorporate feedback so that we can take the right product to market; thereby reducing time to market and giving the business significant competitive advantage. While setting up a newly transitioned process it is worthwhile to try this new approach and set the processes “First Time Right”.
    Six sigma as an approach/methodology is a brilliant problem solving technique. I can understand if organizations enhance it or modify it to cater to their strategic needs however they can’t wish it away. Six sigma is there and will be there always as an approach to business problem solving.
    The beauty of the methodology is that it is a systematic approach where we “Define the problem (define) – measure the extent of the problem with data (measure) – analyze the data with tools/ techniques (Analyze) – suggest improvements and implement solutions (Improve) – control the improved process (Control)”.
    I have personal bias towards six sigma methodology and I apply this in my personal life to provide a structured approach to my day to day problems.
    As per me Six sigma’s era has been, is there and will always be relevant for times to come…!!!

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    #198445

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    @mohitsharma I am not sure what you wanted, if anything, from your post. Normally they are questions. It sounds as if you are just gushing over SS. That is good particularly if it is working well for you.

    Just a word of caution. Your times are off by years. Lots of them. First Motorola created SS and they give the year as 1986. That is not time immemorial. Allied Signal went in 1995 and Lean was being deployed at the same time as SS – it just got less press. LSS is the way we learned it at Motorola only not under that name. separating the two was a waste of time. Just a few examples but your times and your chronology are way off.

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    #198447

    Mohit Sharma
    Participant

    Thanks Mike for your feedback, i am a beginner in isixsigma forum so was not aware of how should i initiate discussions, i will keep this in mind going forward.

    Thank you once again for correcting my knowledge on the LSS times and LSS concepts.

    Regards,

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    #198448

    Mohit Sharma
    Participant

    Respected sir,

    I was just trying to get some views on how it is happening across the world. I am noticing a shift in mind set in so many companies here in India. People now don’t want to drive improvements as Lean or Six sigma way. companies want to do process improvement differently however i think Lean and six sigma will stay as they provide structure to the initiatives and they are effective in driving change.

    Regards,
    Mohit Sharma

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    #198453

    JB
    Participant

    I was going to say something similar. TRIZ is not new – not nearly.

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    #198470

    ejedelmal

    Since 19th century the world still is Command and Control. So Lean, Six Sigma, Scrum, whatever still is the future.

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    #198472

    Chris Seider
    Participant

    Continuous improvement is always necessary. Lean six sigma tools are powerful for any organization that 1. wants to improve and 2. use data for decisions.

    TPM also needs the tools of lean six sigma as part of its backbone.

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    #198473

    Robert Butler
    Participant

    No

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    #198476

    Chris Seider
    Participant

    To my colleague @rbutler

    I do declare that may be your shortest answer ever. :)

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    #198477

    Robert Butler
    Participant

    Yes :-)

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    #198478

    Sandeep

    Hello Mohit,

    Further to your thought, I have been in similar situations where people want to apply Lean and Six Sigma separately. Although, I don’t believe the same as combining good statistical practices with Lean tools is makes Lean Six Sigma very powerful and effective!

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    #198643

    Babu

    6Sigma methodology is not application of tools but methodically approaching a business situation and improving it. As long as that methodical way is required 6Sigma will stay. The statistical tools usage and other concepts are there for age old period.

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    #198658

    yash
    Participant

    So what they call evolution theory for Human race .. we call continuous improvement in industrial development… it will be there…

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    #198659

    Robert Butler
    Participant

    Not really – evolution is just a make-do kluge – continuous improvement is something quite different.

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    #198676

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    I am not sure who to address this two since there is so much zen type posts in this string. Pick out about 4-5 of the top statistical software companies and when they stop growing then it maybe getting close to the end.

    Just my opinion.

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    #199118

    Staats
    Participant

    I think it depends on the company, culture, performance… etc. I worked for a power company which employed SS in the years of 2002-2013. They discarded the program stating SS was fully engrained in their culture (which is wasn’t). Currently, I work for a transactional company and myself along with my counterpart in the UK, we are creating a LSS program from the ground up. There may be 3-7 people with GB training but we are the only BB’s within the company.

    My point is, I think it depends on the culture and especially the executives. Having a champion on the executive level for a LSS program is vital. If they do not buy into it, it would be a tough sell. It is a proven methodology and it is negligent for a company to not execute a process improvement department/program. So is it dead… nah… it is alive and well.

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    #199120

    Martin K. Hutchison
    Participant

    In my view, the issues are a lack of understanding of what a true continuous improvement culture really is and the desperate need for it. If a workplace thinks they have that part, the next step is Root Cause Analysis skill. So many managers focus upwards on politics, not downward on functional imperative that their efforts to drive RCA result in error correction (work harder, inspect more…) vs. error prevention.

    Lean is a way of thinking (as a subset to continuous improvement, as RCA is, and SS).

    It looks like Kaizen Blitzes are going the way of the Dodo, and I think that is a good thing. Cross Functional Teams and problem solving are a way of life for me, but over-formatting and over-powerpointing get in the way- and that is what SS seems to mean to many managers and practitioners.

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    #199122

    Chris Seider
    Participant

    @martinkh

    Kaizen’s are a great tool to 1. get employee engagement and 2. get quick wins along with longer cycle projects.

    My two cents.

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    #199133

    Shelby Jarvis
    Participant

    Many great points. I find Lean and Six Sigma have the ability to provide high impact. I believe the issue is within the implementation of either/both.

    Taiichi Ohno did not set out to develop lean. He had a real business need to resolve. Through years of work and continuously learning; Lean was the result. The same can be said for the development of SS.

    The issue many companies face is they start with the “what” and not the “why”. Too many companies are seeking a simple answer, so when performance doesn’t meet the goals they decide to implement LSS. I am of the belief this is the first point of failure.

    LSS may indeed be part of the answer, but it comes with risk. The Toyota/GE/Allied Signal/etc. culture cannot be bolted onto any other company. Successful CI requires leaders to lead differently, it requires individual contributors to engage, it requires the organization to work together. While the processes/tools in LSS are part of the transformation other transformational work is also required.

    The Great Recession separated the practitioners from the pretenders. Prior to the crash, many companies were able to add the words LSS to their public statements and everyone believed it. When wall street crashed, the rate of change in business was faster than most people had seen prior. If the leadership and organization was strong, then LSS was a benefit. If not, it was a scape goat and an easy place to cut heads. I can’t prove it, but I believe this was the start of rumors than LSS doesn’t work.

    Many of us on this string have been in industry for decades. We have seen programs and initiatives rise and fall. (Quality Circles, ISO, TQM, etc.) I am not shocked that some people feel LSS is failing. If LSS is like the other programs, it is an inevitable part of the life cycle.

    The trick is to understand the value it brings. I worked for Panasonic back in the days of Quality Circles. In my location, it was very effective; but I have no doubt it failed in others. The point is that I do not worry if the trend in industry is going to or from a “label”. I focus on matching/moving the companies culture and the CI fundamentals into alignment with the business opportunity/problem.

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    #199134

    Chris Seider
    Participant

    I find the “Good to Great” book if I remember the title correctly is an ironic read. I read it before the 2008 financial crisis but many of the “great” companies didn’t look so great post crisis.

    However, the message is still the same.

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    #199135

    Shelby Jarvis
    Participant

    Yeah, I like that book and the message. Unfortunately, some of the case studies are no longer appropriate.

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    #199137

    SSDN Technologies

    Today’s modern development are so fast that we can’t even predict that when things come and when gone. Such is the case with six sigma.

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    #199154

    PRABHAKAR
    Participant

    Dear Mohit,

    At the outset, the conceptual epistle is fine. However, the discussions must be on sharing new things with multiple personalities and experts for being our enablers.

    God bless you..

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    #199194

    Sandip Ghosh
    Participant

    I did Design for Six Sigma green belt certification course in 2008 at Textron and TRIZ was very much a part of the training covering a 2 hour long session. But it was sparingly used by few of my colleagues where as it was not required in my case as I was probably the only person from operations included in the team of designers. I remember at that time also company had all 3 options for six sigma i.e. DMAIC, DFSS or Lean.TRIZ was used to enhance ideas during conceptual and preliminary design. My point if you are looking for a new solution get through the available knowledge base to arrive at a specific solution. In that case a DFSS methodology may be appropriate.

    I was taught about many Statistical tools in Indian Statistical Institute a long time ago and though some of them have found their place in six sigma, there are more and it is up to the statisticians to make additions in six sigma software gradually.

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    #199353

    John Westmoreland
    Participant

    Lean and Six Sigma implementation make a process smooth and remove defects. It is always important for an organization to have continuous development in the process.

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    #199354

    Omar Montelongo
    Participant

    Hello!

    The only reason I can see that may cause Lean and/or Six Sigma initiatives decline, is the lack of leadership and sellers, as consultants we are in charge of selling the idea that this works (because it does).
    So if there’s no one selling LSS then someone else will come to sell something else because the need for improvement will always be there.

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    #199387

    Srikar
    Participant

    Hello @martinkh. Why do you think SS is just about power points and presentations to many practitioners and trainers? Is it about the attitude or the culture? When you are implementing something that requires real time applications, i think its time to move on from presenting the ideas to focusing on doing them; people seem to get stuck in the web of classroom/office meetings that might defeat the purpose of SS.

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    #199391

    Kashyap Routhu

    The need for continuous improvement is never ending. While Lean Six Sigma has gradually set into the industries, it is far from gone.
    It will give rise to another technique that will be based on the core principles of Lean Six Sigma.

    Simply put,”continuous improvement will be applied to the techniques of Lean Six Sigma”

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    #201352

    Brian B

    I am the grandest black belt champion of them all. seven sigmas. not six in my belt. I am a certified Master of Lean Manufacturing, Data Management, Business Process Mapping, Consulting, and Process Certification, Data Mapping, Belt Templates, AND the Grand blackbeltmaster of LEANing on things. No one can defeat me.

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