Guest Column | June 2, 2009

Guest Column: Lean Six Sigma: Improving Results And Performance On A Continual Basis

By Doug Burgess, senior vice president, Corporate Lean Six Sigma, Xerox

Processes mark the way things are done in an organization and can drive almost every department, including sales, manufacturing, human resources and communications. The purpose is to create a consistent and efficient way of performing tasks, but over time processes can become ridden with errors and redundancies as employees fall into ritualized habits and communication breaks down. Lean Six Sigma, a combination of the industry-recognized Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma methodologies, is a rigorous, data-driven, results-oriented approach to process improvement. In short, improve the process to improve the results.

Those who complete training on these methodologies are known as Lean Six Sigma graduates. Graduates use their training and resources to evaluate processes through cycles of experimentation and learning by harnessing the speed of Lean and the quality of Six Sigma. The graduates identify non-value added steps and make a series of recommendations for improving operational consistency, powering efficiency, and reducing costs.

Evaluating a current process and identifying ways to improve it can be an intimidating task – especially considering the intricacies and ingrained practices that may be involved. There are several keys to success when implementing a Lean Six Sigma project.