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Problems And Challenges Of Lean Six Sigma Improvement Teams

Feb 26, 2008
Businesses that are unable to provide due consideration to this aspect, often fail to harness the full potential of Lean implementations and consequently start complaining that "Lean Six Sigma does not work". They fail to realize that the problem is not with Lean concepts; their failures are due to the inherent inability of the implementation team to overcome the common problems and challenges.

Identifying Implementation Problems and Challenges

For ensuring the success of Lean projects, the implementation team should first try to identify the common problems and challenges that it might come across during the implementation phase. For this, the implementation team should make use of time-tested Six Sigma tools and techniques such as "Process Charts" that highlight each and every event, functionality, and sub-processes of the given process selected for improvement.

However, since it is not be feasible to look into each and every aspect of the given business process, the implementation team should focus on only those aspects that are critical to the main process. In effect, the team should concentrate on identifying potential problems in only those sub-processes that might be contributing more than 50 to 60 percent towards the delivery of the final outcome. This is necessary because if problems occur in critical sub-processes during the implementation phase, the business may lose its productive efficiency, something that will make a mockery of "Lean" aims and objectives that call for improved productive efficiencies.

For better results, the implementation team should seek input from people such as floor managers, supervisors, process managers, and others who might be having workable knowledge about the given business process. If required, middle and top management can also be requested to provide their valuable input and suggestions.

Overcoming Challenges

The job is said to be "half done" as soon as the problems are identified, but the implementation team should not lose its focus at this stage because it still has to finish the remaining half, i.e. overcoming the identified problems and challenges. This is often the toughest part, because not even the most experienced professionals such as Black Belts can guarantee the success of initiatives undertaken for overcoming implementation problems and challenges.

The best that the implementation team can do then is to utilize Six Sigma simulation tools, which can make very accurate predictions. Simulations help a lot because they make it possible for the implementation team to use the "hit and trail" method without worrying about real losses, monetary or physical. Using the "hit and trail" method, the implementation team can then easily select an initiative that best suits the need of overcoming implementation problems and challenges.

Aside from putting their trust in Six Sigma tools and techniques for overcoming problems and challenges, the implementation team should try to encourage creativity and innovation because sometimes only these skills can save a project from certain failure. Constant motivation, guidance, and recognition are good ways of promoting creativity and innovation among the Lean Six Sigma implementation team members.
About the Author
Tony Jacowski is a quality analyst for The MBA Journal. Aveta Solution's Six Sigma Online offers online six sigma training and certification classes for lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.
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