Answered by
Elisabeth Swan
QUESTION:
Can Lean Six Sigma Be Used in Nursing?

ANSWER:

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.


Answered by
Tracy O'Rourke
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!

Answered by
Elisabeth Swan
QUESTION:
What’s the Difference Between a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt and a Yellow Belt?

ANSWER:

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!


Answered by
Elisabeth Swan
QUESTION:
How Does Online Green Belt Training Compare To Face To Face Training?

ANSWER:

Face-to-face training, depending upon the caliber, that has been customized with organization-specific examples is a great opportunity. If you have the option, then you should attend the workshop and start on a training project during the class. In the best cases, Facilitators provide targeted coaching to guide the launch of small-scoped projects with measurable cost or cycle time savings, although much depends on the design of the workshop.

In cases where bringing such a course “in house” is not a possibility then online training can be a great alternative. For some organizations, it’s not just the cost of hiring a facilitator. The bigger cost is the loss of their employees while they attend one to two weeks of training. In that case, the online training is not only a way to reduce costs, but it enables employees to build their Lean Six Sigma skill set on their own schedule. The Q&A built into the training as well as the Certification Exam help students to retain the learning so that they can apply it within their own world.

There is a “Third Way” which involves on-line training paired with internal Black Belts or Master Black Belts who mentor the Green Belts on their projects while they take the online training. This keeps costs low, allows Green Belts to set their own schedules while still providing project guidance.

It’s the challenges of cost and time that led to the team at GoLeanSixSigma.com to develop the free Yellow Belt training. This was a direct response to organizations who want to spread the language and culture throughout their organizations without having to require hundreds of employees to attend workshops. This, in turn, led to the demand for the Online Green Belt Training where the challenge is, as you pointed out, how to give Green Belts the tools and concepts without a live facilitator or customized examples.

Our answer was to still provide practical examples but to base them all in the Bahama Bistro. This allows the training to draw from transactional processes such as order accuracy, while including elements of manufacturing such as the process of “building” meals. The design includes lots of opportunities to interactively the apply tools, loads of practical templates for project work, and a friendly narrator to provide background and guidance throughout. Another nice aspect of the online training is that Green Belts can arrange for their own continuous “refresher” courses since the course is available to them for one full year after registration. One of the downfalls of on-site workshops is that if the participants don’t use their skills they tend to forget the material.

I hope this helps understand the difference between the two methods since they both have their place. Please let us know if we can be of any further help and good luck!


Answered by
Tracy O'Rourke
QUESTION:
Is Minitab Necessary In An Improvement Project/Process?

ANSWER:

No. Minitab is not necessary for improvement projects, especially in a Lean initiative.

There are many projects that do not use any form of statistical software. Minitab is a statistical software that is mostly suited for applying statistical tools in the Six Sigma DMAIC methodology.

For example, if someone wanted to use statistical tests such as ANOVA, Regression, T-Tests, or F-Tests, to name a few, Minitab can be used. In addition, Minitab also has graphical tools such as box plots, histograms and pareto charts that can be easily run in this software. It is a popular choice for statistical software because Motorola, GE and other large organizations that have implemented a Six Sigma initiative have chosen this statistical software.


Answered by
Tracy O'Rourke
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!


Answered by
Elisabeth Swan
QUESTION:
How do I implement Lean Six Sigma in a production environment where “Pickers” are making significant errors in picking products?

ANSWER:

In a classic “Pick-Pack-Ship” operation, there are a lot of reasons why Pickers might be making significant errors.

If the question is how to implement Lean Six Sigma in this environment, the first step is to look at the environment as a whole.

  • How is the merchandise stocked?
  • Is the layout intuitive?
  • How are the bins labeled?

The assumption might be that the fault lies with the Pickers, but without knowing the root cause of the errors it would be a mistake not to consider the entire system. Here’s a potential approach to applying Lean Six Sigma:

  1. Create a team that includes a cross-section of Pickers, Stockers and other Stakeholders involved the different, connected processes.
  2. Conduct a 5S on the Warehouse. This will help give everyone an understanding of the current state while at the same provide an opportunity to introduce Visual Management where it’s needed
  3. Reassess the focus of the effort. Should the goal be to reduce “# of mis-picks”, “# of mis-stocks”, “# of mis-labels” or possibly a redesign of the Warehouse?
  4. Use DMAIC Once you have your Charter (or Charters) to focus on the root cause of the defects

Note: Pay close attention in the Improve Phase to Mistake Proofing (Poka Yoke) to remove the possibility of errors occurring in the first place

Another approach would be to do some benchmarking by visiting another Pick-Pack-Ship production environment in a non-competing industry – preferably one that has already applied process improvement techniques. As we say in the business, “steal shamelessly”. Good luck!


Answered by
Elisabeth Swan
QUESTION:
What Wastes Could Exist In Electronic Records Management?

ANSWER:

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!


Answered by
Tracy O'Rourke
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!”


Answered by
Elisabeth Swan
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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