Five Ways to Get Started on Your Lean Six Sigma Journey
Mike Aistrop, a training consultant at Renault-Nissan Consulting discusses 5 ways to begin your Lean Six Sigma journey.
It’s widely understood that implementing the principles of Lean Six Sigma into an organisation leads to better processes, less wasted resources and improvements in quality. But putting the procedures into action or getting Lean practices underway can be a daunting prospect.
The following five tips will help you kick start the journey to a better, more efficient and profitable company.
1. Leadership Selection
The vision and direction of any organisation usually comes from the top. That’s especially true when it comes to Lean Six Sigma. Clear leadership, with roles assigned to those who are adept at keeping a close eye on goals and actions, will ensure that any Lean project is a success. It’s also important to gain ‘buy-in’ from senior members of the organisation. Without it, Lean Six Sigma initiatives invariably fail.
Start by assigning senior leadership roles within your team for different areas of the business, clearly explaining the benefits of the approach and the need for strong guidance.
2. Goal Setting
Why are you considering a Lean initiative?
Perhaps you manufacture products and want to reduce wasted time and materials during production. Or maybe you are a service-based business inspired by the Continuous Improvement strategies of other organisations. Or it could be that simply reducing your bottom line and increasing profit is your goal. Whatever your reason for considering Lean Six Sigma, be clear about the end result for your business. This will not only ensure you can form a robust plan, but that any assessment or review you carry out during the process can be tailored to the relevant metrics.
3. Education and Motivation
The next stage of your Continuous Improvement drive is to educate people within your organisation on Lean and the benefits it brings. There have been numerous books written on the subject of Lean Six Sigma.
As well as literature on the subject, internal seminars, training courses and webinars provide a wealth of background information on Lean principles. These can be used to train individuals on implementing Lean practices and also to highlight the positive impact it can have on any organisation.
It’s important to gain the co-operation from all members of staff in order for Lean Six Sigma to work. Once they understand the impact on both the organisation and customer experience, employees are more likely to be motivated to participate fully.
A Lean Six Sigma drive is successful when everyone involved is well informed and transparency is a priority.
Communication is crucial when it comes to the principles of Continuous Improvement, so make sure all your plans, objectives and the areas you are going to focus on are clear for all to see. When leaders, employees and other Lean representatives understand the role they play in Continuous Improvement, you will find that cost savings and improvements are made in every part of your organisation.
For example, is your marketing department over-ordering sales collateral? Is there a section of the manufacturing process that’s creating a bottle neck and slowing down the entire production line? Or do you spend a lot of money outsourcing services that could be managed in-house? These are all questions that become engrained in culture when your whole organisation is aware of the Lean principles you are implementing.
5. Continuous Improvement
By instilling the principles of Lean Six Sigma within your organisation, you will inspire and motivate all members of your team to look for ways to make processes and procedures better. However, rather than a one-off project, Lean Six Sigma is a cultural change for the long term and should be considered as a corporate strategy and ethos.
Whatever your reasons for starting your Lean journey, these fundamental principles will help you operate at your most efficient, reduce waste and locate the root cause of problems that are holding your business back. The end result of embracing Lean Six Sigma will be operational excellence.