Lean Six Sigma (LSS) engagements always have a keen focus on the customer. In many cases this will be the end customer for your service or product - but it may be the 'internal customers' for specific business functions. Key questions focus on Customer Value - what does your customer actually care about? What adds value for them?
It could be that your organisation already has a clear view of what your customers value - in which case this is a great platform on which to launch a Lean Six Sigma improvement initiative. But if your customer value proposition has not been fully developed, then their are tools in the Lean Six Sigma toolbox that can help.
Either way, when we talk about 'improvement' we mean this in a very focussed way. Improving processes so that they provide greater value for customers, more quickly, at lower cost and with fewer errors and defects.
One of the key tools of Lean Six Sigma is the Value Chain Model - the key steps in your process that deliver a service or product to your customer. Your Value Chain Model necessarily hides much of the complexity of your business processes, but it is still of key importance to understanding what is going on. Your Value Chain Model provides a structure for process performance metrics and helps align staff around a common view of process contributing to customer value.
Process models are another key tool of Lean Six Sigma, and their value goes ways beyond process improvement. They capture key organisational knowledge, help to identify process waste and risk and show where controls exist and may potentially be missing. Process models are a powerful basis for operational training and essential source material for IT implementations.
High-quality process models are often a revelation to clients who have not previously had them. We work individually with operational staff, and in multi-function workshops to document and model processes in a clear, unambiguous and communicable manner. Almost without exception there are 'surprises' in such elicitation exercises; managers and senior leaders and professional staff from other disciplines (legal, risk, IT, training, HR) can often be surprised at the reality of processes within their organisation. More than once during process elicitation workshop sessions we have revealed operational or compliance issues that were sufficiently serious to warrant immediate attention.
Metrics and Measurement
We often find that businesses are focused on output measures such as 'productivity' or OPEX. Of course, those are the measures we want to impact, but they are also problematic. Those output measures are not diagnostic and they are normally available way too late to be used for process control. They are like a light on the dashboard of an aircraft that tells the pilot "You just crashed the plane". Interesting - but of no great help in flying the aircraft!
We work with clients to develop process measures that are drivers for performance. These measures are available early and provide detailed diagnostic information about what is happening in the business. We build maps that explain how detailed measures impact your high level performance metrics.