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An Introduction to Lean Six Sigma. “We don’t know what we don’t know. We can’t act on what we don’t know. We won’t know until we search. We won’t search for what we don’t question. We don’t question what we don’t measure. Hence, we just don’t know.” Dr. Mikel Harry. Process Improvement.

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An introduction to lean six sigma

An Introduction to Lean Six Sigma

“We don’t know what we don’t know.

We can’t act on what we don’t know.

We won’t know until we search.

We won’t search for what we don’t question.

We don’t question what we don’t measure.

Hence, we just don’t know.”

Dr. Mikel Harry

Lean six sigma process improvement
Lean Six Sigma Process Improvement

  • Lean Six Sigma Seeks to improve the quality of manufacturing and business process by:

    • identifying and removing the causes of defects (errors) and variation.

    • Identifying and removing sources of waste within the process

    • Focusing on outputs that are critical to customers

Lean six sigma process improvement1
Lean Six Sigma Process Improvement

  • LSS is a management philosophy that seeks to drive a quality culture change through a multi-level based program

Lean six sigma timeline
Lean Six Sigma Timeline

Six Sigma

  • Deming

  • 14 Points

  • 7 Deadly Diseases

Guinness Brewery

Shewhart Introduces SPC




Ford Assembly Line

  • Gilbreth, Inc.

  • Management Theory

  • Industrial Engineering

Toyota Production System


Lean six sigma timeline1
Lean Six Sigma Timeline

Six Sigma

Motorola Introduces Six Sigma

AlliedSIgnalGE Adapt LSS to Business Processes



LeanSix Sigma




Just – in–Time

Lean Mfg.


Background on lean
Background on Lean

  • Lean comes out of the industrial engineering world

  • TaiichiOhno – Toyota Production System.

    • 1940s-1950s company was on verge of bankruptcy

    • Dynamics of industry were changing – moving from mass production to more flexible, shorter, varied batch runs (people wanted more colors, different features, more models, etc).

  • Ohno was inspired by 3 observations on a trip to America

    • Henry Ford’s assembly line inspired the principle of flow (keep products moving because no value is added while it is sitting still)

    • The Indy 500 – Rapid Changeover

    • The American Grocery Store – led to the Pull system – material use signals when and how stock needs to be replenished

Waste defined in medical organization
Waste Defined in medical organization

Lean foundations
Lean Foundations

  • Standardized Work – people should analyze their work and define the way that best meets the needs of all stakeholders.

    • “The current one best way to safely complete an activity with the proper outcome and the highest quality, using the fewest possible resources”

    • Standardized not Identical – mindless conformity and the thoughtful setting of standards should not be confused

    • Written by those who do the work.

  • Level loading – smoothing the workflow and patient flow throughout the hospital.

  • Kaizen – continuous improvement

Lean methods
Lean Methods

  • Kaizen Events (or SCORE events)

    • Planned and structured process that enables a small group of people to improve some aspect of their business in a quick, focused manner.

      • Select

      • Clarify

      • Organize

      • Run

      • Evaluate

  • 5S – this methodology reduces waste through improved workplace organization and visual management

    • Sort, Store, Shine, Standardize and Sustain

  • Kanban – a Japanese term that can be translated as “signal,” “card,” or “sign.”

    • Most often a physical signal (paper card of plastic bin), that indicates when it is time to order more, from whom, and in what quantity.

Lean vs six sigma
Lean vs. Six Sigma

  • Lean tends to be used for shorter, less complex problems. Often time driven. Focus is on eliminating wasteful steps and practices.

  • Six Sigma is a bigger more analytical approach – often quality driven – it tends to have a statistical approach. Focus on optimizing the important steps – reducing defects.

  • Some argue Lean moves the mean, SixSigma moves the variance. But they are often used together and should not be viewed as having different objectives.

    • Waste elimination eliminates an opportunity to make a defect

    • Less rework means faster cycle times

  • Six Sigma training might be specialized to the “quality” department, but everyone in the organization should be trained in Lean

Voc vs vop

Voice of Customer

Voice of Process

The Voice of the Process is independent of the Voice of the Customer

Goals of lean six sigma
Goals of Lean Six Sigma








Customer Target

Customer Target

Prevent Defects byReducing Variation

Prevent Defects byCentering Process



Customer Target

Meet Customer Requirements

What makes a good lean six sigma project
What Makes a Good Lean Six Sigma Project?

  • There is no known solution

  • The root cause is not known

  • The problem is complex and needs statistical analysis

  • The problem is part of a process

  • The process is repeatable

  • A defect can be defined

  • Project will take 3-6 months

  • There are data available

The dmaic methodology
The DMAIC Methodology

  • Define – describe the problem quantifiably and the underlying process to determine how performance will be measured.

  • Measure – use measures or metrics to understand performance and the improvement opportunity.

  • Analyze – identify the true root cause(s) of the underlying problem.

  • Improve – identify and test the best improvements that address the root causes.

  • Control – identify sustainment strategies that ensure process performance maintains the improved state.


  • Define Scope of the Problem

    • Document the Process

    • Collect and Translate the Voice of the Customer

  • Determine Project Objective and Benefits

    • Define Metrics and Defects

    • Establish Preliminary Baseline

    • Develop Problem & Objective Statements

    • Estimate Financial Benefit

Define continued
Define (continued)

  • Create Project Charter

    • Confirm Improvement Methodology

    • Define Project Roles and Responsibilities

    • Identify Risks

    • Establish Timeline

    • Managerial Buy-in

  • Focus here is on the problem

Measure measure what is measurable and make measurable what is not so galileo
MeasureMeasure what is measurable, and make measurable what is not so” – Galileo

  • Define “As Is” process

    • Value stream map/process flow diagram

  • Validate Measurement System for Outputs

    • Don’t assume your measurements are accurate – measuring system must accurately tell what is happening

  • Quantify Process Performance

    • Collect data (Y’s)

    • Examine process stability/capability analysis


  • Identify Potential Causes (X’s)

  • Investigate Significance of X’s

    • Collect data on x’s

    • Graphical/Quantitative analysis

      • Pareto Chart

      • Fishbone Diagram (cause and effect)

      • Chi Square Test

      • Regression Analysis

      • Failure Mode Effects Analysis

  • Identify Significant Causes to focus on (y=f(X))

    • Evaluate the impact of x’s on y

  • Here you identify the critical factors of a “good” output and the root causes of defects or “bad” output.


  • Generate Potential Solutions

  • Select & Test Solution

  • Develop Implementation Plan


  • Create Control & Monitoring Plan

    • Mistake proof the process

    • Determine the x’s to control and methods

    • Determine Y’s to monitor

  • Implement Full Scale Solution

    • Revise/develop process

    • Implement and evaluate solution

  • Finalize Transition

    • Develop transition plan

    • Handoff process to owner