With every improvement project you learn something valuable and a tool for improvements that need to happen quickly are Kaizen events. Kaizen events are rapid responses to very specific areas usually taking 3-5 days. Kaizen events are not difficult, but if you do not put the appropriate planning in place before you begin you will not realize any improvements. To begin with a basic structure of a Kaizen event should include the following:
- Training-what Kaizen is and how it works.
- Defining the problem/goals
- Documenting the current state
- Brainstorming and developing a future state
- Developing a follow-up plan
- Presenting results
- Celebrating successes
The most important thing to remember is that a Kaizen event is driven by two principles: What can we continuously improve and what waste can we eliminate? Those two principles bring us to my next point.
What Can’t Kaizen Events Do?
Kaizen cannot solve any 6Sigma problem. It is a tool that works best with situations that are not heavily focused on metrics. Situations such as yield improvements or variation reduction would not benefit from a Kaizen exercise.
There are many tools for a Kaizen checklist, but as with most 6Sigma tools the best advice often comes from your belt. If you are looking for a quick introduction to 6Sigma without the total commitment often necessary for a 6Sigma improvement project, Kaizen may be your answer.
In any lean project there are a ton of buzzwords, but the one thing that is a universal truth in all lean initiative is that for any tool used to be successful it must be understood. In today’s blog we are going to talk about a Gemba walk and why it works.
What is it?
A Gemba walk is literally seeing where the work happens and the value of work. The reason for the walk can be varied but its importance is to illustrate the process to the people who will be responsible for improving it. I like Gemba because it takes 6Sigma out of theory and metrics and illustrates it in a tangible way that makes sense to the people using it.
What do I do?
This is by no means a comprehensive checklist, but it is a place to start when you are planning your Gemba walk. I provided a simple but comprehensive checklist to create your Gemba walk below.
- Identify the processes (internal/external) that the customer pays for and has an expected output.
- Identify who understands the process- What you are looking for here is not the person/division/team responsible for the process, but the person who designed the process and understands why it operates the way it does. This person should understand the performance gap analysis and have a plan to correct the gap (or at least the beginning of an idea).This step is hard for a lot of people because the knowledge master generally isn’t the person with the official responsibility, but it is critical that you get this step right.
- Focus on the steps of the process that add value, show standardization or show how the work is distributed.
- Know the expected outputs-Are they gaps? Are you asking why? Are you assigning blame? (If are, you shouldn’t be.)
- Identify the areas of the process that are going well, what is making that success happen?
- Now that you know what is working and what is not, create your checklist based on this information.
- Remember to steer clear of the 3M’s and educated your process leaders on them. Muda-Waste, Mura-process variation not caused by the customer, and Muri-overburden on facility, people and equipment caused by Mura and Muda.
This is pretty comprehensive checklist, but as with all my posts this is just to introduce you to the Gemba Walk tool. Consulting with your belt will give you the most useful questions and sources of information in your walk. Done correctly a Gemba walk jumpstart rapid improvement events, done incorrectly they can derail an entire initiative. What will you value today?
First Time Yield (FTY) is a traditional metric that tells you how many defects your process produces for before any improvement is done. Generally this measurement is used in the manufacturing or production field, but it can make the switch to your office easily. The formula for FTY is:
FTY: Total Unit Passed/Total Units Tested
So if you work at a membership organization and you processed 120 retirement requests and found that 50 requests were entered incorrectly, our FTY is .58 %. 70 is the total number of request entered correct or passed and the total number of units tested is 120 retirement requests.
If your process has multiple measurement areas, you will need to perform a FTY for every measureable step in the process. The great about FTY is that it is one of the simplest metrics in 6Sigma and it creates a create illustration of the current state of your process
What does it look like?
A FTY can look like any typical graph you have seen, but most will resemble the chart below. My fancier ones include the curve illustration for clients that highlight the cost of these errors to the client and how the improvements will be quantified.
What doesn’t FTY do?
FTY is a great place to start, but it is important to understand its limitations. FTY will not measure rework or provide any accounting for the cost in time or resources for that rework. There is a more accurate method for measuring that, Rolled Throughput Yield, which we will cover next week.
FTY is a great foundational measurement piece and a great way to introduce your company to 6Sigma, in a way that makes a lot of sense to the people doing the work.
DMAIC is a staple of Six Sigma methodology and like all things Six Sigma, the better your understanding of the tool the greater its abilities. So just what is DMAIC? Basically it’s a problem solving tool, what is great about it is that it specifically works with unknowns and teaches your staff how to use a lack of information to their advantage.
What is DMAIC?
Define: This is where you will put in the most work, because at this stage you will be setting the ground work for all of your changes. You will need to define everything here, specifically critical to quality variables and identified process problems.
Measure: Collect information and review data. The catch to this step is to ensure that your measurement systems are substantiated. When using measurements you will need to ensure that they are measuring specific data and that the measured data aligns with your organization’s goals. Not sure how to do this? Have a conversation with your belt and your executive team; they will point you in the right direction.
Analyze: In this step you will be asking your staff to study the relationship between processes and qualify their impact on the quality of your products or services. Ideally you will want knowledgeable staff involved in this process, but how do you start and what do you do? Talk to your belt, they can guide you effectively and easily through this process.
Improve: This is the area that will allow you to humanize 6Sigma from your staff by focusing less on measurements and more on innovation. You should be looking for suggestions and then moving on to a process of elimination. This is an area where I like to implement ‘dry runs’ of the solution to show me where the process improvements are realistic and where they are not.
Control: This is one of the most important parts of the process, but it can only occur once the other steps have been completed. Failure to complete the previous steps guarantees that you will be perfecting the wrong change. In this step, the devil is very much in the details. You must be vigilant and flexible; your belt will help you put together the best control strategy for your organization.
DMAIC is all about making a change work for your organization. You don’t have to produce complicated charts and statistics for it to work for your organization, but you do have to understand how it works. Although this is a simple summary, there is enough information to get started. When you are ready to get down to detail and create a DMAIC strategy, SPC can help.