Lean Six Sigma Explained




A great video by Dan Munson, I admire him because he makes it real.  And I love his elephant analogy.  It's not like it's the first time I heard it. As a kid, I was told learning was like eating an elephant, one small bite at a time. 

As a trainer, I've been asked to provide a simple explanation of what Lean Six Sigma is.  When I tell people it's a science based statistical backed behavior and processed management system, I get blank looks.

Why Lean Sigma? Because It Works!!!

Lean Sigma has proven to be an effective way in saving companies a lot of money.

If someone told me that he has ideas that could streamline my business, save money, increase profitability and that my customers implemented these ideas in their policies, I'd be interested.

Unfortunately, some don't share my enthusiastic curiosity.

Kaizen in a Lean Dojo

As a martial artist for many years, I was taught dojo kun.  “Hitotsu, jinkaku kansei ni tsutomuru koto” the first of five guiding rules in Shotokan Karate, one of the major martial arts systems originating in Japan, practiced worldwide, and founded by Gichin Funakoshi.  Translated it means:  Each person must strive for the completion of one's character.  When recited in the dojo after each class, it was shortened to “Seek perfection of character.”

Question is:  Can this same principle apply in a Lean Enterprise environment?



5S

How to Determine If You Need Lean Sigma

The big question is, now that you know a little about Lean Sigma, why do you need it when you feel your company is efficient and streamlined with customers happy enough with the quality and service you provide?

The comeback is:  “Are you sure?”

The Value of Processes

Years ago, I worked with the Director of QA/QC and was tasked a Root Cause Failure Analysis (RCFA).  When I heard about this particular issue, I cringed thinking about how we were going to identify the cause and then fix it.  Together, along with a group of others, we spent about an hour on a white board, drawing charts and implementing the Ishikawa Fish Bone Diagram and asked the 5 Whys, affinity diagram, and multi-voting ideas -- basic Lean Six Sigma stuff.

Process Improvement: Stop Bad Processes Killing Your Business


Here's a great article, you've got to read.  I think it pretty much sums up the saying...process...process...process...

See link below:

Process Improvement: Stop Bad Processes Killing Your Business

Note to Self

At my age, I find myself forgetting things, especially when It comes to my “To Do” list.

A lot of us have ways “to do” this.  Typical these days is to use your android or iPhone, tablet, or notebook.  It’s convenient and it keeps records and history for as long as you want. 

I’ve even seen people talking into a handheld recorder.

For me, I found what works best is handwriting these all too important tasks on a piece of paper and carrying it with me where ever I go.  It did the job when I went to college (pre-computer), discovering now, that this old way takes care of business as well as any other means.

It’s not that I’m adverse nor have I not tried these wonderful apps that crowd my cell phone.  For example, I rely upon the calendar app instead of flipping pages in an A5 organizer.

But there’s something to say about that sheet of paper with a note written from you in your own cryptic handwriting.

Benefits?

  • It get’s the job done.
  • It’s convenient.
  • It’s not bulky.
  • You see accomplishments as you check off the task.
  • Each time you open up the sheet, it gives you a snap shot of what you’ve done and still need to do.
  • It helps time manage your tasks.
  • It helps prioritize your tasks.
  • It makes you feel good when you check off everything on your list and justifies that “Miller Time” moment.


This is a simple process that anyone can sink his/her teeth into, a physical act that requires both mind and body to coordinate and integrate as one; kind of like a ‘tai chi” moment.  And there’s nothing wrong with Tai Chi.

I surfed the web and found posts and articles about the benefits of physically handwriting on journals, school notes, meetings and so forth as they prove a stronger method of recollection.  

Check it out.  It’s somewhat revealing.

If you’re like me, handwriting or scribbling that’s marginally legible, you may think it’s counter-productive because of the readability factor, but when you step back and think about it, what matters is that whoever writes the note, can read it and make sense of it. 

From a business perspective, this is one way to relieve yourself from the dreaded multi-tasking monkey mind your find yourself caught into.

Write your list, and stick it in your pocket, referring to it every chance you get.

Try it.  You'll like it!

So if you don’t mind, my “To Do List” says I’ve got to throw the whites into the wash.


Dissatisfied!

Picture courtesy of dreamstime.com


I’ve never created a blog on my cell phone, but I was compelled.  More like pissed.  It happened when I did not get an order I placed online.  At the time, it was in stock and I paid with my credit card.


I asked for a tracking number, and was then told that I’d have to wait several weeks for the manufacture to restock the distributor’s shelves.  


Wow.  Not good.

Rule of Thumbs: Write a Business Plan


On occasion, I’ve been approached by small and medium sized companies. Some are start-ups. Many are established.  Others are handed down from generation-to-generation, modifying practices to accommodate trends, customer satisfaction, and up-to-date processes for profitability.   

So when I asked for copies of their business plans, their standard answer is “it’s all in my head.”   

Then I follow up with “is this where you want your company to be?  In your head? "

The Scientific Method

Lean is a science based discipline that uses facts, data, processes, measures and analysis to manage company operations, , reduce cycle times, and eliminate defects.  Projects, which include corrective action preventive action (CAPA), design and development (DND), and continuous improvement, follow a process or, specifically, the Scientific Method.

More on TIMWOOD

First of all, this blog is devoted to the promotion and development of scientific process management, more specifically: Lean and Six Sigma. Tim Wood happens to be one of the nuances of the concept that is used by many companies to remind their staff of ways to curtail waste. Of course, there is so much more to discuss, learn and develop both internally and externally. I've learned that once you've learned something in this field, and thought you almonst know it all, you've discovered how much you need to explore.

As a start, let's look into who and what is Tim Wood.

What is Lean Six Sigma?


(I’ve been asked to provide a down and dirty explanation of what Lean Six Sigma is; so hope this helps.  If you have any suggestions, feel free to let me know, thanks!)

Logical Thing To Do

When I was in college, I took a philosophy class, a requirement that was boring. 

One topic of discussion was “logic”.

The professor stood up in front of the class and said, “A cat has four legs and a tail. A dog has four legs and a tail, therefore a cat is a dog.”

Afterwards, he said nothing else.  

Silence. Crickets.  Chirp.  Chirp.

Boots on the Ground

Courtesy of chicagonow.com
“Boots on the ground” was a phrase I used in the oil fields borrowed from the military exercise, when soldiers, with heavy packs and guns loaded, marched in combat cadence.   One of my jobs was to maximize value to the customer by reducing waste, cycle time and defects. As Lean Six Sigma and the concept of Continuous Improvement were relatively new at the workplace; along came with it, a distinct vocabulary and hard to grasp concept.  To reach common ground, I had to modify terminology and substitute metaphors so that I can work with management and rank-and-file.  Without common ground, it was next to impossible to have a conversation.  The phrase “boots on the ground” was synonymous to “value added.”

The Fat Wallet

Courtesy of cetmacargo.com
A very close friend carried a wallet that contained his life's history. Not only did it hold his driver's license, Social Security, bank and credit cards, pictures of his family, birth certificate, past payroll stubs, receipts, business cards, phone numbers written on errant pieces of paper, a rubber band, and a razor blade. Least to say, his wallet was a fat ball that could not fit in the back of his pants pocket and carried it in his hands, like a small weapon, an extension of his mind, body and spirit.

I would never expect him to part with it.  There's way too much history in it.

So, companies attempting to introduce change to people with set ways, it's difficult to find methods to convince those like my old friend to abandon his old wallet for a new, different albeit lean and efficient system.

Lean Sigma and Transportation

The following is from Alan Kandel, writer and retired engineer who now focuses his attention to air quality in California and the impact transportation contributes to it.  Though short, his ideas provide insight for further studies and research.  


Read your latest post on process. Streamlining processes to make operations more efficient regardless of application should be pursued. I am reminded of transportation.

You would be amazed as to the amount of waste there is in the transportation realm. If you want to know just how much there is in the United States when it comes to driving then you'll want to check out the Texas A&M Transportation Institute's 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard https://mobility.tamu.edu/ums/report/; you would be astonished to learn how much fuel, money and time is wasted as a result of American drivers stuck in traffic. Building one's way out of the congestion mess (crisis?) isn't a solution. In my The Departure Track book I pointed out that according to the American Society of Civil Engineers, America's highways have a 42 percent congestion rate (in 2013). That's a 58 percent non-congestion rate which, by any measure, is failure. In industry, that would be unacceptable. So, why do we find it to be okay when it comes to driving? I am convinced that applying the continuous improvement, Lean Six Sigma principles to land use and transportation planning (the two areas go hand in hand) could really make a significant difference.

At any rate there is an interesting article about artificial intelligence in the Fall 2016 issue of Cal Poly Magazine (magazine.calpoly.edu). The article of most interest to me is called "The Shape of Cities" - the focus is self-driving cars. If ever implemented, this has the potential to cause even more congestion than what there is already as people who would not otherwise be behind the wheel would all of a sudden be in vehicles being shuttled about autonomously, not to mention cars operating sans drivers waiting for their next assignments. It is a really interesting topic of discussion to say the least. - Alan Kandel

Story About Process

My past posts covered subjects like the Hidden Factory, Standard Operating Procedures and the "what, hows and the whys."  Most recently, I read a book by Clayton Christensen, who introduced the concept of Jobs To Be Done or JBTB. If you have time, pick it up; I highly recommend it.  It's titled Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice.

In one YouTube video where he spoke in front of an audience in Oxford, the person who introduced him indicated that his book was one of the top six management books of all time. After reading it I couldn't agree more.

Poka Yoke or Mistake Proofing

I've had conversations about the term “mistake proofing,” a Lean Six Sigma term taken from Toyota's Production Systems “poka yoke,” which means to set up a work environment where mistakes are virtually impossible.  The definition: Mistake proofing, or its Japanese equivalent poka-yoke (pronounced PO-ka yo-KAY), is the use of any automatic device or method that either makes it impossible for an error to occur or makes the error immediately obvious once it has occurred. (Source:  http://asq.org/learn-about-quality/process-analysis-tools/overview/mistake-proofing.html  American Society for Quality or ASQ) Metaphorically speaking, the idea is if you poke an egg yoke while frying, it would prevent the mistake of it being under cooked, though some of us like it that way.

Kamishibai Board

Simple and very LEAN!!!

CAPA Corrective Action Preventive Action



There is one basic fact about life: 

We make mistakes. 

A lot of it is unintentional, but IT happens; and, when it does, it carries with it a litany of problems, that, in my world, called WASTE, the bane of existence that results to longer and costly cycle times and defects.

Your Business - Customer Identification and Valuation

One fundamental question I ask when I start a training session targets deep into the first principle: customer identification and valuation: Who is your customer and what does your customer value, value defined as any product or service your customer wants and needs that’s delivered on time hassle and defects free. 

That’s one lung full of words that basically point toward two words: Customer and Value.

Lean Enterprise: Bone Basic Version

Backed by popular demand, I was asked to provide a condensed version of Lean Enterprise.  

Forget about the long class sessions, thousands of pages of reading, and hours of practice. -What’s asked for is a bones basic version of what I know. 

Okay.  Let’s see what I can do.

There are five concepts to Lean:  Value; single-piece-flow; flow; waste and continuous improvement. 

  1. Identify who your customer is and what he/she values, value defined as any product or service he/she wants and willing to pay for that’s delivered on time and hassle and defects free;
  2. Adopt single-piece flow methodology as opposed to batch and cue.
  3. Use Eli Goldratt’s Theory of Constraint’s five principles (identify, exploit, subordinate, elevate and repeat) to keep the flow of work in constant and unencumbered motion;
  4. Use Muda, Mura, Muri and TIMWOOD concepts to recognize and eliminate waste;
  5. Improve (aka continuous improvement) every second of the day.


There you go.

Now, let’s get LEAN!

Yamazumi Chart

The following takes you to a link that helps you understand the Yamazumi Chart's what and how.

YAMAZUMI CHART


Picture courtesy of www.acsco.com

Lean Sigma in Healthcare


Years ago, my wife owned a medical billing practice.  Being her partner, I got deeply involved with her operations and the interaction with her clients.  Years later, I started my own durable medical equipment company that included me consulting and assisting pharmacies and doctor practices.  At the time, mid-1990’s, to assist my endeavors, I attended seminars and workshops that introduced me to process improvement methodology that included Management by Objectives, Theory of Constraints, Total Quality Management, Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma.  It was intriguing but over my head with too much information and not enough time to understand what it all meant.  I was also servicing providers on the Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act more known as HIPAA.  At the time I was fortunate to work with consultants strong in LSS as they mentored me on how I can use these methods slowly in our efforts to streamline medical practices.

I realized then that LSS Management could tremendously help the Health Care Industry.

Surfer Culture Meets Standard Work

Every once in awhile, you come up on some real neat articles.  This is one that I feel needs to be shared.  The title speaks for itself.  Enjoy.  

Surfers Learn from Lean Enterprise

Chalk One Up for Process

In one of my jobs as a raw materials buyer for a cGMP culture media manufacturer, I was tasked to purchase a particular chemical compound that, historically, was cost prohibitive.  Because it was the only vendor that carried this product, I didn’t have a negotiating leg to stand on, except to buy in bulk, which was not feasible.  Matters worse was that due to this material cost, our client, a non-profit hospital could not afford the expensive cultured media plate.  

Lean Six Sigma Can Help Save Oil Field Jobs

This important post affects thousands of men and women working in the oilfield industry. In days past, I’ve read articles (way too many) as key indicators in the field I work in. Lower gas prices mean lower demand and to balance this imbalance, supply is reduced. The Saudi’s and OPEC have done so with the effect of bringing prices up which we’d all complain and point fingers of blame. Now China's economy's tanking that further drives more instability in the world trade market. Regardless, production becomes less of a priority especially when drilling new horizontal fracked wells cost about $60 per barrel.

Oilfield Companies: Don't Forget to Negotiate


The time to negotiate for lower prices is now. Companies are laying off, liquidating assets, and dipping into their cash reserves. The renewed task of sending RFPs or RFQ’s will require suppliers and vendors to respond favorably or lose business to those that do.

Lean Enterprise Case Study: Four Stones Machine Shop

By Dominador "Sensei Domi" Tomate

MY FIRST VISIT


            “How in the heck did you make money?  Look at this place?”
            Daryl replied, “What’s wrong with it?”
            “It’s a freaking mess?  You didn’t start this business, did you?”
            “What do you mean?”
            “Easy question.”
            Long pause.  I stared him in the eye and Daryl relented. “I had a partner.  We ran the business together, and he kind of.”
            “Yeah?  What happened?”
            “…died six months ago.”
            “Jesus.  How long did you work together?”
            “About 20 years.”
            Didn’t take long for me to process this.  I knew Daryl in college and from what I remembered, he wasn’t good with details.  He had tremendous talents, a very smart man with creative ideas and, at the time, a pretty good martial artists; but, that was many years ago, and he had problems that I wasn’t sure I had the moxie to handle.  He asked for my help, and I could, like they say, give it my best.

Knowledge Is Power (Click Picture)


Need for Balance (Click Picture)

 Mind Body Balance

Lean In the Oil Fields

Lean Manufacturing 2007 Article reprint by Ric Van Der Linden

We have all heard stories about the great results possible when lean techniques and culture are applied to manufacturing and assembly.  Though we hear less about lean in the service industry, lean concepts are being successfully applied there, and results are showing.  The oil fields are one area that has taken on lean as an initiative to not only deliver improvements, but to develop a culture of continuous improvement.

Sink or Swim


To “reflect” is “to think, ponder, or meditate a fixing on thoughts with careful consideration.” So far we’ve learned certain concepts, examined both relevant and irrelevant anecdotal examples. With reflection, we ask: “why” for the sake of asking “WHY?” Children ask all the time: Why?” It is perhaps the most fundamental and essential of question of all. Like life itself “WHY?” has to do with its essence: “WHY?” is deep, philosophical, profound, simple, all a bit out of the ordinary. If one question leads to another, the second one will take us to a journey, an experience. There is this thing called “Life” that is both an experience and a journey. What else do we need to know about “journey” and “experience?” It’s days, one after the other that represents a journey, each and every one adding a life’s experience. There are good days and bad, and some barely all that a person can do is just to be able to deal. Despite the aches, pains, trials and tribulations, we manage to persevere, get through the day albeit frustrated, exhausted or drained. As we live and breathe, our lives have purpose and meaning, gauged by accomplishments or lack thereof. They follow a course, path or life road map, planned or unplanned. For those journeying down the path of deliberateness, life is methodical, with direction and predestination, and along the haphazard or prescribed course we call life, and there are tasks that we take charge.