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March 15, 2009

Six Sigma, Lean & Soft Issues

As i have been going through  the similarities and differences of six sigma and lean, i found it quite interesting that all the sources emphasise on the importance of the so called soft issues....

Whether it is leadership support, staff involvement or cultural change....

There is always reference to this side of the Lean and Six Sigma..

From, my point of view it makes total sense...In a way it is impossible to expect such a radical project to actually work whithout having the right foundations...

Its like building castles in the sand....sooner or later the waves will come and bring everything down...

Therefore, it is implicit that leaders ought to be committed to the idea of improving from within and actively supporting it...I remember how the word congruent came up in the one of the mini project presentations...And right know I realise how important it is for a leader to stay true to what he preaches...Most importantly its about getting involved with the real project..and not just planning it...and then expecting everyone to buy into it..

On the other hand, employee commitment is crucial in order for any initiative to actually take off...I have been reading about the importance of motivation...both intrinsic and extrinsic..as well as the importance of ownership...  

But in the end..it is all a matter of mind set..where to people stand...what do they beleive...and when i talk about people mean in their organisational environment...what is their organisational culture like? Can it support lean or six sigma..? If not..can it change> Because after all six sigma and lean is about changing and improving

In the end, i think that no matter how effective the tools are..if people are not up to it then it will be impossible for any improvement procedure to finds its way...

Therefore for future reference I will remember...Culture...Leadership...People


March 14, 2009

Lean and Toyota–Initial

I have completed the Lean part of my Pma..and some important learning outcomes have been generated..

First of all it is obvious that once again the Japanese have outbeaten the west, primarily in terms of forward thinking...

I was impressed i found out -according to my readings- that Toyota had been practising lean without even knowing it for nearly 80 years...I mean obviously they knew the system they were applying but for them it wasn't some groundbreaking/magical discovery..It was simply a management approach covering nearly all operations from manufacturing, to assembly and employees which was developed especially for them.

In particular, I was reading that the Japanese engineers who in a way "invented" lean had actually visited Ford plants in the USA were they observed activities such as waste and life cycle cost management...Even though they "appreciated" the western mass production ways, they realised that they wouldn't fit the Japanese reality, therefore they had to introduse a unique concept suitable for Toyota in specific...

Lesson learnt: Simply adopting what other people are doing wont really add value...it is necessary to understand the specific needs of each situation and treat it accordingly...perhaps ADGUSTING external solutions to your reality might be helpful but simply copying wont add any value....

For this reason it makes total sense why lean as it was later called, has become so famous and desired..The concept of reducing waste, increasing wealth from within, driving continual improvement and most importantly considering customer requirements during all this...is an approach which can easily distinguish world class companies from the rest...And there is no doubt that Toyota has come to become a world class company..


March 10, 2009

Six sigma–initial

Since i am doing the fifth question about six sigma and lean, it is possible to say that i have decided to consider following:

overview of six sigma...overview of lean...

similarities and differences between the two and whether the one concept can contribute to the other by filling in any gaps...

is six sigma and lean in harmony... 

examine how effective integrating six sigma and lean has been (with examples where possible)...

As far as six sigma is concerned after considering various sources, it has become clear to me that it is always connected to Motorola because they implemented it to improve their manufacturing line and develop defect-free products. After Motorola implemented six sigma other mega corporations in the US adopted it such as GE, Xerox and Kodak.

Gradually as the concept of six sigma evolved it moved away from being simply a quality management tool towards becoming an entire philosophy which drives business strategy. As discussed in class I also constantly read that six sigma is  an improvement process which uses statistical tools and aims to reduce by ultimately  developing a product or service which will satisfy customers.

Apart from customer satisfaction perhaps the most beneficial element of six sigma from a business's point of view  and the aspect which has probably ensured its success, is the fact that is reduces waste and cost...meaning that it saves a business a lot of money.

As mentioned before six sigma is a improvement, process meaning that it involves the element of change, as discussed in class mainly due to the mini project on management of change and a six sigma project, there are important people implications that needs to be taken into account during the application of six sigma. Interestingly enough, in all the sources about six sigma application special mention is made towards the importance of creating the right project team, having top management commitment and involvement, providing training for the employees,  and above all establishing an environment of effective communication.


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