For many companies today, Lean Six Sigma is helping to transform the way they operate in an increasingly competitive landscape.
Lean Six Sigma is a fact-based, data driven philosophy that values defect prevention over defect detection. It is the combination of two continuous improvement methods, and the name comes from the combination of Lean and Six Sigma. Lean, which was originally developed by Toyota, is a set of principles, practices and tools aimed at maximizing customer value. Six Sigma is a structured approach aimed at increasing product and service quality by focusing on processes.
The philosophy is a team-based approach for dramatically improving business processes through eliminating waste and increasing quality and efficiency. Integrating these approaches provides a comprehensive and proven approach that can transform an organization. It also can result in lower costs and happier employees. It is a process that should be incorporated in a quality training program.
The benefits for manufacturing can be consistent products and a reduction of returned parts. It minimizes rework, improves communication with production, and can reduce manufacturing costs.
The first step toward pursuing Lean Six Sigma is a review of the quality manuals of successful companies and determining if the same standards are in place.
Six Sigma certification and training can be done online, allowing a shop’s staff to study and take the exam when it is convenient for them.
The methodology uses proven strategies, tools, and statistical methodologies to improve virtually any process. The goal is improved process performance and increased customer satisfaction through variability and defect reduction, resulting in consistently producing high quality services, products, or processes. Certification is designed to prove a company’s proficiency in understanding the fundamentals of this process improvement technique.
Lean Six Sigma’s certification structure is tiered by belts, starting with white, which signifies an understanding of the basics of Lean Six Sigma. There are different belts to signify levels of training. These individuals conduct projects and implement improvements.
Participants can progress to yellow, green, black, master black and champion belts as the principals are embraced.
Lean Six Sigma professionals exist at every level in a company, and each can play different role. However, implementations and roles may vary from company to company. It also can be tailored to a company’s specific requirements.
The first level is the white belt. These individuals can work on local problem-solving teams that support overall projects, but may not be part of a Six Sigma project team. White belts understand basic Six Sigma concepts.
The next level is yellow belt. These individuals typically participate as a project team member. They review process improvements that support the project.
Green belt individuals assist with data collection and analysis for black belt projects. They lead green belt projects or teams.
Near the top is the black belt. These individuals lead problem-solving projects. Black belts train and coach project teams.
A master black belt trains and coaches’ black belts and green belts. These individuals also function more at the Lean Six Sigma program level by developing key metrics and the strategic direction. They also can act as an organization’s Lean Six Sigma technologist and internal consultant.
Each project also can require organizational support. Executives and champions set the direction for selecting and deploying projects. They ensure, at a high level, that projects succeed, add value, and fit within the organizational plan.
Champions may translate the company’s mission, goals and metrics to establish a plan of action and target specific projects.