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What are Lean & Six Sigma?

Lean and Six Sigma are well-established organizational improvement methods. Lean focuses on acceleration and efficiency in delivering your products and services. Six Sigma focuses on quality and reducing undesirable variation in your products and services. The methods complement one another. Both focus on analyzing and improving your business processes. 

Lean Six Sigma Page

What is a business process?   

After formulating your business strategy, improving your business processes should be your primary focus. Your business processes are an expression of your strategy. They are the step by step means by which you deliver value to internal or external customers. The Lean term for a business process is a value stream. A well-designed value stream is a competitive advantage that others in your industry cannot easily duplicate.  


Core processes directly produce revenue for the organization. If you manage a support process, your goal should be to better support & enable your organization's core business processes. Below are some examples of core and support processes: 


Product/Service Development: Identified customer need        New or improved product or service.

Sales & Marketing: Brand/Product/Service awareness       New customers and placed orders.  

Procurement: Input requirements (materials, people, equipment, etc.)       Ready for production.

Production: Raw materials       Finished goods.  

Service: Service resources ready       Satisfying customer experience. 

Installation (Products): Finished goods       Product ready to use.  

Customer Receivables: Pricing & Terms       Collected sales revenue. 


Financial: Current/Projected revenue & expenses       Budgets, investments, financing, liquidity, etc.  

Regulatory: Business activities       Consumer, environmental, tax, safety, labor, & privacy compliance. 

Continuous Improvement, Quality: Current business performance       Improved business performance.

Information Technology:  Stakeholder data       Stakeholder information.

Human Resources: Labor requirements        Productive associates and more.  

Plant/Office & Equipment Management: New equipment        Maintained or disposed equipment. 

What you can expect from us is a significant, measurable improvement

to any core or support business process in your organization. 


What do you want in a business process?   

A business process will have unique aspects based on what you want it to accomplish. But there are also characteristics you want every business process in your organization to have: 


Stability is being able to deliver on your promises to customers consistently. Consistency requires you to seek out and reduce product and service defects, variation, and unplanned downtime. The identifiable causes of defects are minimized or extinguished one after another. Stability enables the other essential process characteristics described below.  


The concept of flow in business is underappreciated. Flow means the flow of value to the customer. Imagine your customer with their checkbook out, watching how their product is made or their service performed. What activities would they be willing to pay for, and which would they not? This is how we focus on the value-add activities. Flow is the uninterrupted transformation of inputs to outputs. When you decrease the lead-time from order to delivery of products or services, less guesswork about future demand is needed, less buffer resources are required, and customer satisfaction is improved.   


The removal of non-value added activities from your business processes frees up labor and resources that can be transferred to where they are needed most. Lean calls them "wastes". Examples are the wastes of inventory, transportation, waiting, overprocessing, defects, poor design, overproduction, lost opportunities, and human potential.  


We design flexibility into our business processes so we can changeover to another product in our product mix, ramp up or scale back production in response to customer demand, and respond to threats from competitors, new opportunities in identified customer needs, or changing regulations.  

The relative importance of stability, flow, efficiency, and responsiveness in a given business processes will depend on the type of business process, customer, and industry. Lean and Six Sigma will give your business processes the desired mix of characteristics, leading to superior profitability. See Choosing A Project for more details.   

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