In Leading Holistic Improvement with Lean Six Sigma 2.0 the authors, Ronald D. Snee and Roger W. Hoerl suggest use of the enhanced version of this methodology. Furthermore, this improvement methodology uses three approaches which lead to holistic improvement of specific business case.
Six Sigma improvement methodology had initially started from 1986-87 within Motorola. Its goal was to optimise quality versus lower costs. Toyota had implemented manufacturing excellence using principles called Lean Manufacturing over a longer period of time.
Thereafter in 2002, George suggested the enhanced improvement methodology beyond Six Sigma. He did this by integrating the Lean principles with Six Sigma to create broader improvement initiative Lean Six Sigma.
General Electric, which had introduced Six Sigma as a major initiative in 1995, quickly adopted this new methodology with success. The authors draw from their experience working within GE during that time as well as supplemental research. Basis the same, they advocate including multiple logical methods in most organisations’ portfolios with a customised set uniquely matching the organisation requirements.
Its interesting to read the case studies of holistic improvement implementations in GE, DuPont, Scott Paper Company. These enumerate quality by design, breakthrough improvement, quality and process management systems as the key core improvement methodologies.
Trivial points we assume to be present frequently get understated and less attention. Consequently these form the proverbial weakest link of the chain in new improvement methodology rollouts. Requirements such as top talent and top management involvement, supporting infrastructure to support the effort, right mix of improvement methodology portfolio are crucial to achieving the fruits of success. The authors elaborate each of these with lucid explanations and actions.
Launching the initiative, managing the effort, sustaining the momentum and growing, putting the improvement into daily work on an on-going basis are the components of the improvement methodology adoption.
Success of the methodology adoption depends on each of these phases. Strategy, initial projects, trained black belts and other key players are the output of the launch phase. Managing the effort marks the transition from initial wave of projects completion to a well-managed long term effort. Formal infrastructure to properly manage improvement deployments is setup in this phase.
The sustaining and growing phase is defined as the time between completing the training and projects identified in original deployment plan and transforming Lean Six Sigma to Lean Six Sigma 2.0 which takes considerable years’ time.
In the last phase, holistic improvement becomes such an integral part of the way the organisation manages that there is no longer a need for a formal Lean Six Sigma initiative so that it becomes a part of the organisation culture.
The closing chapter in the book discusses the requirements of leaders vis-a-vis the knowledge, understanding and competency that are desired as the end result. Some of the common pitfalls highlighted are an over-emphasis on the tools, falling short to customise the portfolio to the company requirements. Similarly another pitfall is functional subject matter expertise missed from the identified Black Belt resources in favour of process improvement specialists.
The book is a very interesting read and throws some good challenges to the implementers in terms of the scale of deployments that can be replicated. There are a lot of actions associated with each of the topics which are well explained by the authors. Hence, to summarize the review, the contents of the book are really helpful for practitioner, the senior management and general reader interested in process improvement advancements.