Process Improvement

This is an awesome video about process improvement with six sigma.

Video Transcript

[Music Intro] >>Hi I’m Devin Deen, Content Director here at Hi. Welcome to today’s whiteboard session. In a departure from tradition I’m not going to talk about project management topics. Instead, I’m going to go over a couple of process improvement methodologies that have been out in the marketplace for about 50 or 60 years in an effort to maybe just highlight some key points from each of those methods that you might want to take on as your own when you’re looking to improve your processes on your projects. If nothing else, it’ll help you score better the next time you play boardroom bingo. So, the 2 processes I’m going to talk about are Kaizen, or improvement is good. And Six Sigma which is about eliminating defects. And in this case Six Sigma refers to about 3.4 defects per million products that you are getting out there, and that’s where the Six Sigma comes from. Now these methodologies have been out there for about 50, 60 years. Kaizen came about in post-World War II, so this is after World War II is over. America sent a number of business consultants over to Japan to help them rebuild their economy and get the industry and industrial and manufacturing base up and running again. Out of that era came popular improvement methods like TQM, total quality management, and also Kaizen. Kaizen was born in that era. Six Sigma came in the mid-80’s, so specifically 1986 is when it first formally surfaced but in the mid-70’s it was starting to be beaten about by a company called Motorola in the United States. They manufactured quite a lot of communications equipment. They found that quality control was dropping off, products were getting worse and worse, and the profitability as a result was decreasing. So the CEO at the time decided they wanted to do something about it, so they started looking at ways they could improve their processes in manufacturing at Motorola. The methodology was finally encapsulated and packaged, if you will, in 1986 and since then they’ve been using it as well as probably the top 500 Fortune 500 companies have adopted that methodology for improving their product and their quality control. The philosophies differ slightly. For Kaizen, the philosophy is more about humanizing the workforce. So, in this way, your workforce is empowered. Everybody from the CEO down to the janitorial staff have a part in improving the processes of that company to help it work more effectively, more efficiently, and certainly safer. For Six Sigma, it’s more of a command and control approach. Six Sigma is your traditional consulting engagement where people go in, look at the size of the problem, do their gap analysis, and figure out what to do and how to solve that in a more project by project approach.Kaizen is about a culture change, Six Sigma is more about solving particular problems, OK? So there’s slight difference there. How they achieve this is quite similar. In this case, for Kaizen, they achieve this by having executive leadership all the way down to, as I said before, the janitor staff being part of that process- partaking in the improvement process. In Six Sigma, certainly you have to have that executive mandate as well. So, the executives and the senior management team are adopting and embracing a change for the better for improving quality and improving processes and ensuring each of the team members in their company actually has a part in that as well. The difference is that, in Kaizen, it’s – like I said – it’s part of that culture, it’s how we do things at X company. Whereas in Six Sigma there are initiatives. There are Six Sigma initiatives where they are actually looking to drive improvement but, again, every team member has got that participation and that responsibility but primarily in Six Sigma you’re looking at it more at a project by project basis. Now, how they do this. So, the key process in Kaizen is based on Deming’s key process of PDAC and what that stands for is Plan, Do, Analyze, and Change. And the idea is that PDAC is actually a bit of a cycle, right? So it’s a repeatable and iterative cycle where you are doing your plan, doing analyzing, changing. Then do that once for a particular problem that you are having, then you go on and do it again. Small incremental changes make improvement in the long term. So a Kaizen company is one that embraces that change but knows it’s a journey, knows their not going to get there in the first step, and recognizes that the best way to do that is small incremental improvements at the team level – at the business unit level, if you will. In Six Sigma, how they achieve their result and their processes – they’ve got loads of processes but, first off, it is a statistical based improvement process. So, in this one it’s very important for them to be able to define and measure the output they are looking to achieve and then to find specific ways at addressing that. And we’re not talking small increments or changes. We’re usually talking big bold changes to improve those processes. So there’s 2 primary processes that are used in Six Sigma. The first one we call DMAIAC and that stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control. The other process is similar to that. It’s DMADV, Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, and then Verify. And these 2 processes, they are similar, and what they’re talking about, like I said before, it’s more of an organized, if you will, more of a project by project initiative where you’re defining actually what the problems are, your measuring what that might be costing you or where that efficiency loss or that quality loss might be occurring. You analyze, again, where you can make those improvements. You make the improvements and you control them, or in this case, you design the new processes that you need to follow and then you verify that that works. Some key features of each of these, the first one I want to say and if you haven’t gotten it by now I’ll write it up on the board again. It’s really culture change here, right? Companies that embrace Kaizen do it holistically. It’s the entire company, it’s how we do things. Toyota has done so and you might read the book or Google it on Amazon and you’ll see a book called ‘The Toyota Way’. This is Toyota’s approach towards Kaizen. It talks about the philosophy at Toyota. It talks about every team members responsibility. It is certainly a cultural sort of aspect. You talk about companies that are Kaizen companies and you mention Toyota – look, even where I work here in New Zealand, we’ve got a bank using Kaizen and they’re using Kaizen to improve the close the books process, if you will, and the finance team. So it’s not just manufacturing companies that can use this, it’s all types of industry and the thing to remember it is a cultural change. It’s a cultural process. With Six Sigma, whilst it is cultural in terms of it’s embracing the need for improvement of quality approaches and streamlining the workforce, the thing to remember that it is statistical based. Usually within a company you’ve got designated champions of Six Sigma. You’ve got people, in some cases, that it’s their full-time job to look for areas of improvement. These folks are called your black belts. They’ve gone through the Six Sigma training and their familiar with the hundred or so different processes and hundred or so different ways to measure quality improvement and their out there running and leading those projects that are out there to improve quality in your manufacturing base or streamline your processes. You’ve also got green belts who might, as an example, it might be a side responsibility for a department head to be a green belt in Six Sigma. So they’ve got a key part in a Six Sigma project. They’re there at the operational level where the rubble meets the road to actually enact some of those improvement processes but they’re not driving that change. That’s what the black belts are doing. You’ve got a series of other color belts and just comprising different Six Sigma project teams to try and improve that process as well. So, they use the champion approach where you’ve got a designated person who’s there to deliver Six Sigma projects. So this in a nutshell is a quick chart on distinguishing the different features between these quality improvement programs. I suggest that if you’re interested in knowing more about them, certainly I would take that up, Google it on the internet or go to your local library and pick up a couple of books. Certainly each of these different quality processes can give you some ideas of your own when you’re running your project teams on how to improve your efficiency or streamline your workforce and also improve the quality of products that you are producing from your projects. For more project management whiteboard sessions and all your project manager needs, come see us at

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