Lean Six Sigma: A Formula for Process Improvement

Lean Six Sigma with its black belt and green belt sounds almost threatening to those who don't understand it, but to those who understand and apply the concepts, it is a way of increasing the speed of a process and simultaneously improving quality control. The philosophy uses the language of martial arts but is actually a method for using data to improve both the speed and the quality of any process, from manufacturing to financial management.

While Lean Six (6) Sigma is incorporated by many managers, its value is not limited to managers alone. Any employee who understands the methodology will improve his own production rates. You can start here and earn your certificate, a green belt, or a black belt, and enhance your own value to your employer. read more »

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LSS combines the concepts of customer satisfaction and manufacturing excellence. The first priority is to please the customer with the speed and quality of the work done. The second is to improve the process of completing that work so that minimum equipment and man hours produce that same speed and quality and continue to improve. This is accomplished with a data driven analysis of every step of a process, every movement of a machine or a person, every stroke required on a computer or noted on a work order. The numbers show where steps are wasted, employees are needlessly exhausted or are engaging in unnecessary repetition, and the process is delayed with deficiencies in the way equipment is used. Once the waste is identified along with the areas prone to mistakes, the process can be “cleaned up” or streamlined, thus both increasing the speed of the operation and improving the quality of the product.

LSS can be applied to almost any process. For example, one hospital in Texas decided to use LSS to improve the complicated and lengthy process of discharging a patient and getting the room ready for another patient. With the help of an LSS black belt, they created a map of the process. Just completing the map itself revealed the first problem; none of the nurses could agree on what order to put the various discharge processes because each nurse had his or her own way of doing things. The lack of a standard procedure for something as simple as a discharge resulted in hours of waiting for the patient and family as well as time lost when another patient could have been receiving care. The application of LSS enabled the hospital to identify the waste and improve a very basic but extremely important procedure.

The Lean Six Sigma greenbelt can be earned online in as little as two weeks. The black belt, however, can take up to a year to acquire, depending on the school and on your own time frame for studying. Getting a certificate or a greenbelt will give you the skills to lead projects and to improve your own performance as well as provide assistance to those with the black belts. Furthermore, the whole philosophy continues to grow and improve, providing opportunities for even the black belts to analyze and improve the speed and efficiency of an entire business organization.

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