Methodology that change how firms operate

Claire Ford is chief executive of Quality Scotland. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Claire Ford is chief executive of Quality Scotland. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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Lean and mean, with half a dozen ways you can eliminate waste from your business, writes Claire Ford

THE phrase “Lean Six Sigma” is bandied about industry, particularly the manufacturing sector, as one of these terms that most have heard of, but few will know what the adoption procedure might be.

Wikipedia describes it as a methodology that relies on a collaborative team effort to improve performance by systematically removing waste, which combines lean manufacturing/lean enterprise and Six Sigma to eliminate eight kinds of waste – defects, overproduction, waiting, non-utilised talent, transportation, inventory, motion, extra processing- in effect – downtime. It helps business and organisations use the right tools, in the right place, and in the right way, across every day operational activity. The quest for businesses is to get the key principles and concepts of Lean Six Sigma woven into the fabric of the organisation.

This is also inextricably woven into the fundamental concepts of the EFQM Excellence Model – the European Foundation for Quality Management Framework which Quality Scotland rigorously champions, in much the same way as Lean and Six Sigma synergise into Lean Six Sigma to form a perfect partnership.

Therefore, Lean Six Sigma and the EFQM Model (and its fundamental concepts) provide the most robust “excellence” platform – which formed the basic premise of a recent article written for Quality Scotland by respected expert in “Lean” issues, John Morgan of Catalyst Consulting, one of our partner organisations.

John starts by looking at the relationship between Lean and Six Sigma and the formulation of Lean Six Sigma, outlining the five key principles of Lean Thinking and the five key principles of Six Sigma, showing the similarity and synergy between both, and the resultant set of Lean Six Sigma key principles that reflect the very best of these two approaches.

I wholly agree with John’s view on the synergies of Lean Six Sigma and the Fundamental Concepts of the EFQM Model which are focused on adding value for customers, as well as helping to create a sustainable future, developing organisational capability, harnessing creativity and innovation, leading with vision, inspiration and integrity, managing with agility, succeeding through the talent of people and sustaining outstanding results.

That’s why Quality Scotland has always been prominent advocates of The EFQM Fundamental Concepts of Excellence. It outlines the essential foundations for achieving sustainable excellence and can show clear links with Lean Six Sigma.

John gives an example of one client’s experience of using the EFQM Model to assist in defining its improvement plan and then introducing Lean Six Sigma as its improvement method. They gave a glowing testimonial: “The EFQM Model provided a comprehensive and rigorous approach to identifying the ‘what’ to focus on and Lean Six Sigma provided the ‘how’ to make the necessary improvements in a systematic and sustainable manner.” The core element is, he states, to continually monitor and track performance against the created plan to ensure you remain on track and the gains made are held.

At Quality Scotland, we know that excellent organisations value their people and create a culture of empowerment for the achievement of both organisational and personal goals. Lean Six Sigma looks to equip the people in the process enabling them to feel that they’re able to challenge and improve their processes and the way they work. Organisations cannot afford to waste the potential of their people, nor should they fail to recognise the strong statistical correlation between employee and customer satisfaction.

Catalyst Consulting and Quality Scotland have worked together in helping organisations deliver continuous improvement for many years and Catalyst sponsor our Lean Six Sigma Award, introduced earlier this year and awarded to North Ayrshire Council. If you are interested in finding out more about Lean, EFQM or how to enter for the Lean Six Sigma Award visit www.qualityscotland.co.uk

• Claire Ford is chief executive of Quality Scotland

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