First, you should familiarize yourself with what a Lean Six Sigma project is all about.
The Lean Six Sigma (LSS) projects I’ve done in the past have all used the Lean Six Sigma Quality Transformation Toolkit (LSSQTT), a structured problem-solving system that’s currently packaged as an Excel workbook (but has evolved in the past, and can be expected to evolve in the future to adapt to new software technologies). The LSSQTT was developed by John W. Sinn of Bowling Green State University. (Feel free to email me at nicole dot radziwill at espresso-labs dot-com if you have any other questions about the LSSQTT.)
- Define your problem in terms of quality goals
- Set up your team’s quality management system, which often involves applying the DMAIC methodology
- Apply a lean tool (e.g. VSM, SIPOC) or a Six Sigma tool (e.g. SPC) to your problem
- Evaluate the results
- Evaluate how everyone on your team performed during this phase of the project
- Review results, identify ways to apply the results to further analysis of the problem, and identify ways to improve personal performance through the next phase of the project
- Apply those findings to your problem and your quality management system; introduce a new lean or Six Sigma tool, and do Steps 4-7 again
- Every so often, “lean out” your project findings and boil the portfolio down to its most important elements
- Formulate conclusions
Here are some examples of completed project portfolios using the LSSQTT. Only the second could be considered a “classical” LSS project; the first is a creative example of how to structure any project the same way you would reduce waste or reduce variation.
- (If you have a Phase II LF/SF portfolio that you want to post, please email it to me at nicole dot radziwill at espresso-labs dot-com and I will make the web page! Those of you who have actually done these portfolios will know what I’m talking about.)
One of the things I worried about when I first started using the LSSQTT was: Is this right? Is this “the correct way” to do a Lean Six Sigma project? What I discovered as a result of going through the process was that two things make a LSS project: a) using any structured problem-solving approach, usually based on DMAIC, and b) achieving tangible results that might include reducing costs, improving customer satisfaction, improving cycle time or efficiency, or reducing time and effort (labor). You don’t have to worry about finding the “right” approach – but you do have to find an approach that helps you and your team take an ambiguous, unconstrained problem and generate real business value.