QUESTION:
How Can I Improve My Career Once I Attain A Certificate In Green Belt? I Work In The QA Department Of A Manufacturing Industry.

ANSWER:

You’re in a great position to benefit from Green Belt Certification. Taking the course will help you to teach others about “symptoms” vs “root cause.” Often QA is focused on quality measures and immediate solutions to defects, but not always solutions that get at the root causes of defects. The Lean Six Sigma tools and concepts give you the best of both worlds. You get the variation and defect reduction of the Six Sigma world, and the removal of waste and streamlining of the Lean world. When you put these two toolsets together you learn how to truly engage with process participants to solve issues. In the QA world, these are exactly the skills you want on your resume.

This also puts you in a position to mentor others as you help build the problem solving muscles of those around you. Tackling process issues gives everyone a chance to “fix what bugs them.” That’s a satisfying thing to do whether you’re in QA or not.

It’s not an fluke that people who opt to become certified Lean Six Sigma practitioners are often the ones tapped for leadership positions. The habits you form around collaborative problem-solving simultaneously build your influence skills. Those are good life skills for everyone.

I hope that helps, and good luck in your endeavors!

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QUESTION:
I work in the logistics and warehousing sector. How can I apply the Lean Six Sigma methodologies in order to reduce costs, defects and variations while increasing efficiencies to meet customer requirements?

ANSWER:

In any industry, the important thing to do is to start with searching for waste. First understand the The 8 Wastes and then start looking for them. Often the search doesn’t take too long to find waste!

GE Appliances is one organization that has applied Lean Six Sigma within their logistics and warehouse operations across the globe.

Here are some of the opportunities to remove waste that are often seen in logistics and warehousing:

  • Inventory: Too much inventory – how long as some of this inventory been at the warehouse? Are we receiving more product than we should? Are we holding on to it too long (aging)? These are all symptoms that waste exists. And because we have too much unnecessary inventory – that creates a lot of other waste! We have to count the inventory, store it, track it, and move it. There are costs associated with all of it!
  • Transportation: Too much movement of product (too many touches to get the product in place. It’s moved and moved again unnecessarily for whatever reason)
  • Defects: Too much damage occurring to the product (typically because we’re moving it a lot!)
  • Motion: How often are workers looking for inventory? Because, the “system” is wrong, or the product is in the wrong place, or the product is not actually there?

Once you discover the waste, then figure out how to reduce it, and start with what’s in your span of control. It’s easy to say everyone else has to improve, but more effective if we start in a place where we can be a catalyst for change.

Hope that helps!

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QUESTION:
What Types Of Waste Exist In The Banking Sector, Specifically In Fulfillment And Service Departments ?

ANSWER:

Banking, like other service industries, has many customer touch points so wastes truly impact effectiveness as much as they impact efficiency.

As a simple example, when customers are attempting to open accounts the actual work that goes into making that happen amounts to minutes, but customers often experience days of delay “waiting for checks to clear.” Banking and other financial services are tasked with balancing customer convenience with protection from fraud. In order to walk that fine line, it’s important to identify the 8 Wastes and then determine how much of each waste can be removed from the process without putting the customer at risk:

  • Defects: Wrong or missing information on applications (i.e. lack of voided checks)
  • Overproduction: Sending more marketing collateral to customers than they want or need
  • Waiting: Time spent waiting for to Operations to process applications
  • Non-Utilized Talent: Tellers having to get approvals from Supervisors when the answer is always “yes”
  • Transportation: Moving account applications between departments
  • Inventory: The buildup of account applications waiting to be entered
  • Motion: Clicking between applications especially with legacy software programs
  • Extra-Processing: Fields for information or signatures on forms that are no-longer in use

These are just a few examples, but we bet you could name a few more!

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QUESTION:
Can I Start My Own Green Belt Project Once I’m Certified?

ANSWER:

There’s nothing stopping you from initiating a Lean Six Sigma Project at any time. What’s key is choosing the…

  • right scope for your time
  • ability
  • and the organization’s needs

Nothing breeds success like success, so start small and get an early win. This will give you practice with the tools and prove to those around you that you’re capable and that DMAIC works.

Start with a project that is scoped within your own job description. What part of your day to day work…

  • takes too long to accomplish?
  • seems to contain non-value-adding steps?
  • doesn’t serve the needs of the customer?

Since you’ve got a vested interest in making your work life more enjoyable and providing more value, the momentum is with YOU!

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

ANSWER:

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

ANSWER:

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?

Answer:

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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QUESTION:
Can Lean Six Sigma Be Used In Marketing?

ANSWER:

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

ANSWER:

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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QUESTION:
How Can I Apply Lean Six Sigma At a Hotel?

ANSWER:

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

ANSWER:

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”!

Push: 

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).

Pull:

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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