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November 2008 - Volume 5 - Issue 5
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Vehicles of Performance/Process Improvement

Most people do not think in terms of a process; and, some assume they do. This is one of the leading roadblocks to organizational enhancement through growth and/or cost reductions. In most organizations, things just happen. That is, there is no correlation or pattern of events as to why things or events occur.

What if every employee thought and acted as an engineer and focused on patterns of events and/or sequence of occurrence? There would be macro focus from micro levels of the organization, and micro focus from macro levels of the organization. Everyone would be focused on outcome efficiency and consistency.

There are numerous vehicles for improving organizational performance and enhancing corporate culture. Below is a brief description of a few proven methodologies/tools:

  • Six Sigma is both a state of performance and a methodology. It is a state of performance because Six Sigma processes yield average performance that is six standard deviations (sigma) from customer specifications/ requirements. This translates into consistent outcome deliverance by exceeding customer expectation(s) and minimizing risk by continuously reducing variability in results. That is, consistently delivering above customer expectations while minimizing costs.
It is also a methodology because its known frameworks (DMAIC & DMADV) provide a platform by which to redesign and/or design processes with a Six Sigma state of performance, respectively. The methodology aims to improve performance and reduce the variability around performance, while minimizing costs.
  • Lean is a set of tools that identifies value added versus non-value added steps within processes in order to reduce unnecessary costs and/or defect opportunities.
  • Simple PITM is a framework that uses a compilation of key Lean and Six Sigma tools to drive the cost/defect reduction of Lean and the consistency of Six Sigma in a quick period of time for non-complex processes.
  • Kaizen is a continuous methodology that involves every level of the organization (from upper management to the front-line workers, inclusive of all levels in between) to drive multiple small improvements on a continuous basis that in the end result in innovations that improve:
    o productivity,
    o Safety,
    o Effectiveness,
    o and, the Bottom-line
    while reducing waste and maintaining stable levels of variability.
  • Lean, Six Sigma and Simple PI are structured process improvement/engineering vehicles used to train employees on the core fundamentals of engineering thinking and performance.
The above methodologies/tools may be used jointly or independently of each other to achieve organizational/departmental re-engineering of one or multiple processes. Each serves a distinct purpose. As such, prior to committing yourself and/or group of peers/employees to any one vehicle for performance/process improvement, it is important to assess the type of improvement(s) that is/are needed (i.e. cost reduction, stable results, cultural transition)
Deisell M. Diaz, Partner, DEIVIN, can be reached at deisellmdiaz@deivin.com.
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