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?”

What have you done to determine the efficiency and flow of your operations and how do you know your customers are happy and satisfied with your product or service?

What is it that you have, in your hands, that shows you your score and how that value benchmarks with competition? 

I’ve been in situations where this question comes up and dismissed because cycle times and defects are hidden behind a veil of transparecy.  The “I don’t see a problem” gets in the way of the truth which disservices both company and client.

So what steps can a company take to measure its efficacy or the lack thereof? 

My suggestion is to go out and “visually” inspect what’s happening with the company.  The Lean term for this is “genchi genbetsu.”  In your mind, prior this personal examination or audit, do you see a well-run operation or something that could stand improvement?

Another step is to talk to everyone in operations, sales orders, deliveries and customer service.  Ask what concerns and complaints have popped up, minor as well as major, and what has been done to rectify these problems and mitigate future occurrences.

After performing these simple steps, you will experience a “gut feel” to what’s going on, mind opening that warrants further examination.

What that said, this is where Lean Sigma can provide you with the tools.  You can learn these methods on your own, which is not that difficult if you put your mind into it, or you can hire a consultant.

Remember, companies like Motorola, GE, and Toyota have saved not millions but billions of dollars by implementing these principles.  As a small entity, you may not experience these types of savings, but you will certainly be happy with savings that will occur once these processes are employed.

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