Author: Mitch Millstein, CFPIM, C.P.M., CQM, CQE
Lean Six Sigma Project Format
3 - 5 Weeks in duration
2 - 3 days per week
Team members return to work for the remainder of the week or use time to gather data and communicate updates to department employees
Project Phases - Define, Analyze / Mapping, Design, Rollout Plan
Education/workshop on day 1 of each week, if needed
Report out to Business/Executive Sponsor
2 - 6 month Implementation Rollout, Monthly
Team follow-up meetings / conference calls The Lean Six Sigma Project Format works on projects that need a few weeks to complete the improvement. This can be due to many reason
The scope of the project may cross multiple departments and cannot be broken down into smaller parts or the process will be sub-optimized
The team will need to gather, analyze and quality-check data before making critical decisions (Performance, Sales or Time Study data)
The small Lean Six Sigma Team needs to get input from company associates who are not on the team, to ensure buy-in In these circumstances the changes made by the Lean Six Sigma Team need to be well thought-out. Decision-making cannot be rushed!
Projects that require a 3 - 5 week project versus a one week Kaizen event include:
Customer profitability analysis - Politically sensitive data and decisions
Product rationalization - Important to use correct data or highly negative decisions can be made
Order to Delivery streamlining - Processes that touch multiple departments
Human Resource processes - Often involving legal issues
Warehouse layout - A lot of work required
Flow Manufacturing / Kanban Materials Management - Where parts, supplies and components are shared by different product families and therefore different Flow Cells
Supply Chain improvements - Involving suppliers
Kaizen Event Format
Day 1 - Lean Education
Day 2 - Analyze current process and begin improvements
Day 3 - Continue improvements
Day 4 - Document new standards
Day 5 - Present results and celebrate
Failings of the Kaizen Event Method
Action Item List not completed
Incomplete time studies
Data not quality checked
Poor record of sustaining
Kaizen events are meant to start and finish a Lean project in one week. In many cases, however, the Friday celebration is just creating an action item list. When the energy and focus of the Kaizen week is over, this action item list often lingers and the action items never get completed. The result is that actual savings/improvements are far less than the calculated savings.
Because of the 1 week format, and the fact that the team is working full time on this project, decisions are often rushed. Allocating 1 day to do time studies or gather other critical data is just not enough. In 1 week, a few product families get time studied but not all. Data is gathered, but it is not verified as being accurate. There is no time to gather additional input from employees that are knowledgeable about this process, but are not on the team.
The result is often a solution that is "shoved down people's throats". When this happens, employees who were not on the team will naturally push-back. The result is an unsustainable process and actual results never equal the theoretical results.
Anyone involved in Kaizen events will tell you that sustaining is the hardest part. But in the Kaizen process it gets the least focus.
What Kaizen Events Are Good At
Kaizen events can be successful. There are two circumstances where we have been successful using the one week events to improve processes.
First is when the process being analyzed is very focused, affects only one or two departments and does not impact other parts of the company. We used a Kaizen Event at a Retailer who was looking at eliminating redundant paperwork in the Procurement department. This involved primarily just Buyers and Administrators in Procurement. The improvements the Lean Team made were eliminating printing and copying paper. This didn't affect other departments in the company.
Another example of a focused Kaizen Event is reducing machine set-up time using Quickchangeover tools. This improvement is focused on one machine and can largely get done, while communicating with all operators involved, in one week.
Kaizen Events can also be affective for 5S Visual Management implementations. This involves labeling, organizing and sorting the workplace. We would usually involve most of the people who work in the area involved. This type of Lean tool can usually get done in one week (if the area is properly scoped out in advance) and does not have numerous additional action items that need to be completed after the week is over.
Benefits of the Lean Project Format
Breaks in the project (non project meeting-days) allow time to gather, quality check and refine data
Breaks allow time to present current state process flow maps or time study results to additional department employees who are not on the Lean Team
Duration of the project provides enough time to complete time studies of all product families
The last week is dedicated to creating a control plan (how solution will be integrated into the business) and rollout plan
The key to the success of the Project Format is the duration of the project and the breaks in between meeting-days. The duration allows for a completeness of analysis, communication of the improvements and a design that works and is well received by all department employees.
The breaks give Lean Team Members time to catch up with their regular jobs and work externally of the Lean Six Sigma Project to gather the data and communicate the current state with fellow department employees.
The last week of the project is dedicated to thinking about Sustainment. This involves Control Plans, or how the process improvement will be integrated into the business process. The team also builds a Rollout Plan (schedule) to show how changes will be sequenced into the business to ensure testing and acceptance
Sometimes going a little bit slower will achieve real results faster.
About the Author
For more information on this subject goto www.supplyvelocity.com, where you can view our full white papers. Mitch Millstein, CFPIM, C.P.M., CQM, CQE President Supply Velocity, Inc. 314-406-4962 email@example.com http://supplyvelocity.com