4 Benefits of Lean Six Sigma and How it can Benefit Different Industries (not just manufacturing!) -

4 Benefits of Lean Six Sigma and How it can Benefit Different Industries (not just manufacturing!)

By Ashley Christman, LSS MBB, SSBBP, CSM

Lean Six Sigma is a combination of the Lean and Six Sigma quality improvement methodologies. The two are not the same thing, but they work very complementary to each other and Lean Six Sigma takes full advantage of that.

By combining these methodologies and their tools, the focus shifts away from looking at people as a problem to instead examining processes. Lean Six Sigma focuses on the following goals:

  1. Eliminating waste
  2. Improving flow
  3. Reducing variation
  4. Minimizing defects

An easy way to remember the order of these goals is you want to Lean out a process in order to make good data for Six Sigma. Think of it as trimming the fat, in order to get more accurate numbers. The idea is that if you improve any one of these areas, you can improve the process and the system as a whole.

Wait, isn’t Lean Six Sigma just for manufacturing or engineering?

Lean Six Sigma may have gotten its roots from manufacturing and engineering, but it really benefits any industry and/or function. For example, healthcare has started applying it and has seen tremendous gains in patient satisfaction and safety. Here’s one study about how Lean Six Sigma is improving Healthcare Utilization.

One of the main principles of Lean Six Sigma is Voice of the Customer (VOC). This involves learning how to clearly define the VOC and turn it to actionable metrics. Even if in your role or job function you never use a statistic, you can still benefit from this concept. I have personally found that by applying some of the Lean tools to my personal life, I’ve created improvements to my home life. And my husband has applied Six Sigma tools successfully to video game development.

What are some of the benefits to Lean Six Sigma?

When implemented properly, Lean Six Sigma does not just yield a system of tools, it yields a culture of continuous improvement. That’s huge, but here are four other benefits:

  1. A culture of quality improvement with common tools and language. It’s much more efficient to your quality improvement efforts to have the whole team on the same page, using the same tools to problem solve.
  2. Higher yield, less defects. By improving processes, the team becomes more efficient. This means less reworks and unnecessary mistakes, which can prove costly. Speaking of efficient…
  3. More efficient teams and individuals. People are now trained to evaluate processes and in a Lean culture, are empowered to make changes in their own workloads to create efficiencies and better flow where there were problems before.
  4. Increased customer satisfaction. By increasing efficiencies, decreasing waste, variation, and defects, you’re better able to meet your customer’s demand. That means happy customers.

Lean Six Sigma programs can create noticeable, sustainable transformation. It’s a process of continually striving for perfection and can give you the tools needed to get there.

Interested in learning more about Lean principles or getting a Lean certification? KAI Partners’ KAIP Academy is accredited through the Council for Six Sigma Certification as an independent training provider. We are excited to offer Lean Six Sigma training and certification in the Sacramento area! For a list of our current Lean course offerings, visit http://academy.kaipartners.com/course/lean-six-sigma-green-belt-certification/.

 About the Author: Ashley Christman is a former nurse and Certified Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt with a background in organizational change management and Lean. Her extensive experience in healthcare quality and performance improvement has transformed a number of organizations and led to better outcomes in patient care, reductions in wait times, and more. Her experience includes consulting for the CA Department of Public Health as well as multiple large hospital systems, including Santa Rosa Memorial and Petaluma Valley Hospital. Her passion for improvement and educating others led her to begin teaching in order to help entrepreneurs, professionals, and leaders create a sustainable culture change by empowering them to be change agents and champions of innovation. You can find her online at @learnlivelean on Twitter and on LinkedIn.

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