Improve – Phase 4 of 5 of Lean Six Sigma

DEFINE MEASURE ANALYZE IMPROVE CONTROL

How will you fix the problem? Once the project teams are satisfied with their data and determined that additional analysis will not add to their understanding of the problem, it’s time to move on to solution development. The team is most likely collecting improvement ideas throughout the project, but a structured improvement effort can lead to innovative and elegant solutions.

Brainstorm solutions that might fix the problem

The teams efforts at this stage are to produce as many ideas as possible based on the idea that from Quantity, comes Quality. Creative idea generation consists of a host of techniques intended to lead the team to out-of-the-box solutions.

Select the practical solutions

In many cases, a project team can employ a list of improvements to their processes, but when they are forced to chose between conflicting options, there are tools like the “Weighted Criteria Matrix”, which helps your team make the best decision.

Develop maps of processes based on different solutions

With solutions in mind to reduce rework loops, waste and wait times, the team can draw an improved map of the process, also known as “To-Be Maps.” These new maps are helpful in guiding the team’s efforts toward the new process, and can be used as a reference for new employees as they are trained on the new process.

Tools: To-Be Maps

Select the best solution(s)

In order to ensure the right decision is made, the team may employ mini testing cycles known as “PDCA” or Plan Do Check Act, which can help refine the ideas while collecting valuable stakeholder feedback. These cycles are a great way to find out if small improvements are viable in a fast and low impact way.

Tools: PDCA/PDSA

Implement the solution(s)

Accomplishing successful implementation requires careful planning. The team must consider logistics, training, documentation and communication plans. The more time the team spends on planning , the faster they reach total adaptation to the improvements by their process participants.

Measure improvement

Once the team is able to show that the solution has resulted in measurable improvement, then the team can move on to the Control Phase.

What’s next?

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