I recently listened to a great conversation about Six Sigma from an interview with an expert (Rick Morrow).
Rick’s explanation about six sigma is helpful. Six Sigma is very much process focused. He shared a number of attributes about the HOW a process is performed and measures for the consistency in which the process is performed. Lean and Six Sigma are separate, but they can be merged. But, they are designed with separate goals in mind. So, there is value in preserving fidelity.
One item that I have introduced is value measurement to ensure Lean (or Six Sigma) is guided with precision when changes are recommended. One challenge with Lean & Six Sigma is agile operations that are in a continual state of change. Some operational processes require precision to provide scale, but increasingly the precision within mfg needs to be componentized within specified boundaries not necessarily end-to-end. This requires a change in the way companies design precision cells where perturbations need to be minimized if not eliminated. The advent of integration and interoperability is where the difficult engineering is taking place and will continue to become more “intelligent” to incorporate resiliency in a process, system, product, and orchestration between one or all the above. This is where the game changers will occur in the future.
Lean & Six Sigma concepts will eventually be built into on-demand analytics to isolate causality and perhaps guide these intelligent interfaces so they can adapt and accept or hold and reject a “request” to be integrated with another process, system, or product. This is a different way to conceptualize design but also builds an organic ability to support continual change and resiliency. Component design will continue to improve as our ability to measure with precision to minimize coupling errors and provide more buffer as adverse conditions arise during integration events (I think of each integration as an event, not a process extension).
Rick is right about the manner in which componentization has contributed to knowledge isolation, linear thinking, and silos of management. The organizational design should be built around stakeholder value, not around functional or process boundaries. The origin of the Toyota Way was to deliver quality in every way by starting with the customer first. Microsoft gets it - increase customer satisfaction is used as a driver for guiding continuous improvement (using Lean, Six Sigma, or other methodologies).
Michael’s recollection about a cycle time reduction that improved customer satisfaction for the customer is a great example of how to improve value. What is missing is the ability to measure value with precision. That is what I introduce to companies. The methodology we include as part of Sustainable Growth By Design is similar in concept to applying Six Sigma for measuring what customers want. Once companies have this information, they can drive decision-making using value-driven prioritization whether improving operations or driving innovation.