In The Define Phase, How Do I Conduct The First Meeting With My Team And What Are The Steps?


Your first meeting can be either in person, or conducted using a teleconference application such as Google Hangouts, WebEx, GoToMeeting, etc. Don’t let distance get in the way. The other critical step before your team meeting is to make sure the project has a Champion or Sponsor who is 100% behind the project. As we say in the Lean Six Sigma world, “No Champion, no project.” If the project has backing from leadership then it’s time to convene the team. Below are some potential agenda items for your first team meeting.

  1. Determine best weekly (or biweekly) meeting time for the project team.
    • It’s critical to create a “drumbeat” of regular meetings.
    • Meetings become a time to get work done as well as a form of deadline.
  2. Review and Refine the Project Charter.
    • Any more detail available for the Problem Statement?
    • Has the Scope been defined? Start/Stop as well as What’s In/What’s Out?
    • Any additional Constraints or Assumptions?
    • Has the Goal Statement at least been outlined even if the numbers are not solid
  3. Create the SIPOC, high-level map, with the team
    • Do this even if you’ve already created one
    • Allow the team to understand the high-level process
    • Give them a chance to own the process and engage in the project
  4. Plan for collecting Voice of the Customer data
    • Consider both output requirements and service requirements
    • Make sure the requirements are measurable
    • Determine the vehicle (survey, interview, meeting, etc.)
  5. Determine project stakeholders and begin Stakeholder Analysis

This may take more than one meeting depending upon the time available, but these are some of your first orders of business. I hope this was helpful and we wish you luck on your project!

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Can Lean Six Sigma Be Used in Nursing?


Nursing, and Healthcare in general, has made great strides due to Lean Six Sigma. Below are just a few examples of the tools and concepts that can be used to great effect.

  1. Apply 5S to the Nursing station so that supplies used most often are placed near each other and at waist height while placing those items used less frequently in less valuable storage areas
  2. Apply the results of the 5S to all nursing stations such that you pave the way for a visual workplace and standard work – this allows nurses to swap into different stations while still being able to find everything
  3. Challenge the “Scope of Practice” assigned to RNs, LPNs, etc. and cross-train where it will enable better workload balancing.
  4. Map the process for ordering supplies since it often involves multiple calls to different areas of the hospital, lengthy look-ups in product catalogues and approvals which can also delay delivery – there are generally good opportunities to remove waste and increase flow of ordering processes.

These are just a few of the Lean Six Sigma applications to Nursing processes and work areas. Healthcare is in a unique position to make great strides in process improvement since what works at one hospital will most likely work at others. Since the goal of Nursing is to spend as much time with patients as possible, freeing Nurses up to do that by removing waste in the system has incalculable benefits.

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What Is The Appropriate Analysis Tool For Determining X and Y?


Full Question:

During a Lean Six Sigma review, a Green Belt stated that the population of motors meeting a certain acceptance criteria had been improved by 6%. Last year, we tested 1,200 motors and 800 of them met the acceptance criteria. This year we tested 1,100 motors and 855 of them meet the acceptance criteria. What is the X? What is the Y? What is the appropriate analysis tool to use?


The “X” in this example is the year, so you’ve got last year and this year as the two values of X. The “Y” is the yield or % of motors deemed “good”. If you just looked at the proportions, last year there were 66% deemed good and this year there is 77% deemed good. That looks like they did a bit better than the goal of a 6% improvement. But your second question refers to the right analysis tool to use. For that you’ve got two options.

  1. The is discrete data (pass/fail). If you want to see if there is a statistically significant improvement over last year, one option is to conduct a 2-proportion test. The 2-proportion test would tell you if there is “no difference” between last year and this year, or if “there is a difference.” If you are using Minitab, you can enter the total count of the motors and the total count of the “good motors” for both the baseline and the improvement. If you have a P-value less than .05. that means that there is a statistically significant improvement.
  2. Another option is to use the Chi Square test, and for that you would create a two by two matrix of Good units/Bad units over Last year/This year in Minitab or QI Macros, etc.. Again, if the P value is below .05 then the improvement is statistically significant!
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What’s the Difference Between a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt and a Yellow Belt?


Aside from the colored band on a martial arts belt, the biggest difference in the Lean Six Sigma World, is that Green Belts get more training, understand more tools and techniques and can lead bigger projects than Yellow Belts. Yellow Belts receive training that provides the vocabulary of Lean Six Sigma, a basic understanding of the method and the most commonly used tools. With their overview of Lean Six Sigma, Yellow Belts become productive team members on process improvement teams led by Green Belts or Black Belts.

Green Belts, on the other hand, can be both team leads as well as team members. They are expected to complete an ongoing series of manageably-scoped projects as part of their work life. They can also participate as team members on projects run by Black Belts or even other Green Belts. What Green Belts and Yellow Belts have in common is that, unlike Black Belts, running Lean Six Sigma projects is not their only job. But it makes their jobs more enjoyable!

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Can Lean Six Sigma Be Used In Marketing?


DMAIC and Lean can be applied to ANY industry, department or function, and does not need to be customized to be able to make an impact.

The models themselves have not been “adjusted,” however there are many Lean and Six Sigma can be used to improve Sales & Marketing. Some example projects include:

  • Creating standard work for these types of processes.
  • Reducing cycle time for internal pieces of the process, whether it’s proposal approvals or requirements assessment.
  • Creating priority matrices to reducing WIP in the process to improve cycle time.

Hope that helps!

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What Wastes Could Exist In Electronic Records Management?


Electronic Record Management could benefit from both an 8 Wastes Assessment and a 5S. People often assume that once a process is automated, there’s nothing left to improve, but we’ve found otherwise. In some cases, the process is automated before it’s been streamlined, so the automation includes digital versions of the manual non-value added steps. But even if the process was improved before being automated, there are still opportunities. Some examples below:

  1. The Waste of Defects
    1. Are there duplicate names?
    2. Are there drop-down lists or can people type in what they want and create variation?
  2. The Waste of Overproduction
    1. Are there active records that should be archived?
    2. Is there any separation between “Active” and “Working” files?
    3. Have you done a Digital 5S so it’s clear where things should be stored?
    4. Are naming conventions making the latest versions clear?
    5. What happens with the old versions?
  3. The Waste of Waiting
    1. How long does the system take to process?
    2. Is it maintained with current versions and licenses?
    3. Are there opportunities to fine tune and gain productivity?
  4. The Waste of Non-Utilized Intellectual Capital
    1. Can anyone access the electronic records?
    2. Is the task relegated to a few and therefore becomes a bottleneck?
    3. Are there clear and straightforward instructions that anyone could understand in order to access records when they need them?
  5. The Waste of Transportation
    1. Are records being transferred (scanned) from paper to digital?
    2. From paper to storage like Iron Mountain?
    3. How many hand-offs are involved and how long to they take?
  6. The Waste of Inventory
    1. What’s the process for purging old records?
    2. Have you conducted a 5S?
    3. Sorted through what should be stored and what should be eliminated?
    4. Are requests for information forming a queue?
    5. Are people waiting for record retrieval?
    6. Is this function centralized when it could be dispersed?
  7. The Waste of Motion
    1. How many clicks are involved in storing and retrieving records?
    2. How many applications have to be opened and closed?
  8. The Waste of Extra Processing
    1. How much data is being stored?
    2. Are you storing information that no one uses?
    3. Does that make it hard to find valuable information?
    4. Is the user-interface easy to navigate?
    5. Are there extra, unused fields that could be eliminated or clarified?

That’s DOWNTIME: Defects, Overproduction, Waiting, Non-utliization of Intellectual Capital, Transportation, Inventory, Motion and Extra-Processing.

Lots of potential for waste in Digital Records Management!

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How Can I Apply Lean Six Sigma In the Accounting Department Of a Construction Company?


There are so many ways to apply Lean Six Sigma here. First, what processes are painful for customers, and/or employees? What processes have long cycle times or high defect rates? These are good opportunities to apply Lean Six Sigma tools. We have had many projects from a financial or accounting background.

  • Reducing lead time on Accounts Payable.
  • Increasing the accuracy in paying the right amount to the right person.
  • Streamlining forms and reducing waste out of the process with complex processes.

We have a great number of examples that are from the construction industry as well, from residential homes to commercial buildings. From picking out options to pouring concrete more effectively and efficiently. There is even a movement called “Lean Construction!”

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How Can I Apply Lean Six Sigma At a Hotel?


The Hospitality industry has made great strides in the past decade with Lean Six Sigma. Some of the best projects have centered around reducing workplace injuries by focusing on cleaning and maintenance processes. Another big win that came out of Lean Six Sigma is the “Green Program.” The Green Program is when hotels let guests “opt-in” for new linens as opposed to assuming they required the extra step and cost of a complete change-over. The Front Desk is a great place to consider “load leveling” so the staffing matches guest demand, and banqueting has made great strides with the concept of “single piece flow” of dishes and cutlery to speed turnaround. As you can tell, there are a lot of opportunities to apply Lean Six Sigma in a hotel!

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How do I identify new work groups (departments) who want to implement Lean levers in their process?


There are two main ways to identify groups or departments who want to implement Lean.  In keeping with the Lean philosophy, let’s call them “Push” and “Pull”!


Often, an organization or division will decide to proceed with Lean due to some “burning platform” of need to change, potentially as senior leaders look to improve cost structure, customer service, employee engagement, or other key business metrics.  With a leadership team to set the direction, the best option is to conduct a “rapid assessment” of the process effectiveness, efficiency, and productivity within each department.  We would typically form a Lean team in each area, create a Value-Stream Map (VSM) of their core work process(es), and then use value-stream analysis and data (e.g., volume, work time, turnaround time, etc.) to find opportunities.  The full list becomes the “unconstrained” view, and then we conduct a cross-functional prioritization process to select which opportunities (“constrained”) most merit the resources that it will take to implement the approach.  Usually, the highest-impact opportunities go first and others follow later, but organizations can sometimes phase the priorities for other reasons (for example, if one area is currently fielding a new system, we might push up the Lean effort to get ahead of that, or we might wait for the system to be deployed before fine-tuning their new processes).


Sometimes there isn’t a burning platform or a leader who wants to impose the need to change on the whole organization, so we find that a department will “self-select” to volunteer to go first.  We still need to conduct a quick assessment to make sure the department is ready for the Lean journey, and then we implement the approach.  As we proceed, we can use that department to create “positive peer pressure” by showing the value that the Lean activities and cultural changes are generating.  Other departments see the value and then jump on the bandwagon.

Ultimately, regardless of whether you push or pull it, a Lean deployment done properly will build momentum because the approach really works.  You just have to navigate the natural resistance to change, build support for trying new things, and show positive results for both the business and the people.

Sounds easy, right?  Enjoy the journey!

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How Much Does Yellow Belt Certification Cost?


Yellow Belt Certification from currently currently costs $49 (as of July 2014). Training is free and you can get immediate access by subscribing using the green form at the top right of any page on our website.

We choose to make Yellow Belt Training free so you can experience it for yourself and be confident you’re getting the best Lean Six Sigma Training available. Then, once you feel the Training is able to give you practical process improvement skills, you can demonstrate your knowledge to yourself, your company, your colleagues/peers that you understand the concepts by completing your Certification.

Our Yellow Belt Training & Certification enables you to immediately begin improving processes by helping you see the world with new eyes. We encourage you to check it out (as well as demo training from other providers) and experience the difference for yourself.

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