The House of High Quality Articles for Everyone in the World

Oct 31, 2010

Lean Tools and Six Sigma

The Lean approach is one of elimination of waste and improving the flow using Lean tools to bring about quick improvements in problem areas.

Need for Integrating Lean and Six Sigma

Both have been successfully used in different companies. Six Sigma helps in elimination of defects, but does not optimize the processes, and Lean does not use any statistical tools, which can be even more effective and are required for making the system perfectly lean.

The experts on the matter are of the opinion that the combination of Lean tools and principles with Six Sigma can make a major difference in bringing about sustained improvements in the business processes and profits. A structured approach to integrating Lean with the help of Lean tools and principles with Six Sigma can reap rich benefits for the organization.

The Lean Tools that can help integrating with Six Sigma are listed below.

Value Stream Mapping

The focus of the value stream mapping tool is to categorize activities and materials into value adding, non-value adding and value enabling.

If you utilize this tool in the DMAIC phase of Six Sigma, then the non-value adding activities can be segregated from the value adding ones, thus helping to reduce the wait time between two processes.

This means overall leaner processes. Value stream mapping can be combined with the analyze phase, as well as the improve phase.

Takt Time

Takt time is the time needed for a particular project to be completed to meet customer demand. Generally, the efforts would be to record the existing cycle time for the manufacturing processes in the Measure phase.

A comparison is done with the existing service level agreements to find out the mismatch of the actual with the SLAs exceeding tolerance levels can be measured. This helps in understanding the amount of improvement required to match the cycle time with the Takt time.

Ishikawa Diagram

In the Analyze phase, it becomes imperative to find the root causes of a problem area. In the absence of detailed statistical data, the 5 Whys can be used along with the Ishikawa (cause and effect) diagram to make the task easier and manageable. The 5 Whys tool can be useful in pointing out areas that need immediate improvement and that can be addressed easily.


Heijunka, which means load balancing, is a tool that helps the Lean team to provide a consistent flow of work by ensuring that the bottlenecks are removed in the Design phase of Six Sigma.

Load balancing can be useful in reducing inventory turnover by introducing a pull system rather than a push system, which is responsible for bottlenecks. The Takt time also supports the designing of the system, such that a level load balance is achieved.

Poka Yoke

Poka Yoke, which stands for mistake proofing is a great tool of Lean, which can be used to fine-tune the processes as such that the probability of error is reduced in the given areas.

Combined with Ishikawa diagram and the Pareto Analysis, it can be used in the Design and Improve phases to eliminate the major causes of errors.

The combination of Lean tools with the Six Sigma methodology can be very useful for any type of organization, may it be manufacturing or even the service industry. It can boost the benefits of the organization to a large extent.

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Oct 23, 2010

Methods of Improvement (FADE)

One of the most common models for quality improvement is the FADE QI model. There are four steps to this model that cover a broad area and are easy to use.

The first step is focus. This is an essential part of this model because it establishes the basis for what will set the other three steps in motion. Here you will define and verify the process that is to be improved. Before you can make any type of change, you must first acquire a clear understanding of exactly what needs to happen and why. Once you have a clearly defined focus, you can then set further goals that will dictate the appropriate actions to be taken.

The second step is data analysis. Here, you will collect and analyze data in an effort to establish baselines, identify root causes of the problem for which a solution is being sought, and then point toward possible solutions. This process will be important to all aspects of company operation, and is a crucial step in the quality improvement process.

The next step in the process is development. This is where action plans are developed based on the data being examined. These plans are put together for the overall improvement process and encompass implementation, communication, and the measuring and monitoring of the progress and overall situation. This step is what will clearly define the actions that will need to take place in order for the changes to take effect.

The final step in the quality improvement process is execution. Here, the action plans will be implemented. This may be on a pilot basis as indicated, so these plans may be tested and further changes made if necessary. These plans are then evaluated, and ongoing measuring and monitoring systems are installed to ensure success.

These four steps are critical to the success of a company's quality improvement which is an important part of overall quality management. They are systematic and easy to follow. The process can also be repeated on an ongoing basis so various issues will continually be recognized and resolutions put in place. This also helps to facilitate the continuity of the business, and ensures everything will continue to run smoothly for a long time to come.

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Oct 22, 2010

The Lean Office - With 5S

Do you get frustrated looking for files? Is your desk too small for all your stuff? If you can answer yes to these questions, you may need a personal 5S.

5S, which stands for Sort-Set in order-Shine-Standardize-Sustain, is typically an organizations gateway to a lean transformation. 5S will help any organization improve productivity by reducing the amount of time wasted throughout the day. A key strategy for this simple yet powerful tactic is known as the "visual workplace." Visual controls help make conditions, instructions and actions instantly recognizable through simple signals such as color codes, signs or demarcations. In this article we'll focus on how to apply 5S to an area that is very important to you, your desk.

In a professional environment, a cluttered workspace usually indicates a cluttered mind. This is not a message you want to send to your superiors or customers. So how does one tackle this dilemma? One very simple yet effective method is to apply the 5S process to your immediate work area. This includes converting paper to electronic files, cleaning out your hard drives, establishing visual management to your filing systems and organizing the physical space.

By applying the following 5 simple steps, you will be able to quickly de-clutter those desktops and become a highly productive worker.

1) Sort - Going through your "stuff" can be quite a daunting task and all too often a stumbling block. If you feel your workspace has gotten so out of control that you just don't know where to start, sorting is your first task. You will need to dedicate some time to sorting so a good idea is to come in on a Saturday morning and go through all those papers, files, magazines, etc. Your goal is to get rid of as much as possible. Get three large boxes and label them as follows:

Things I need and use every day
Things I occasionally need
Things I haven't touched in over three months and have no need for

Common sense dictates that if you haven't used an item recently and have no reason to keep it, get rid of it. The remaining items will have to be stored appropriately.

2) Set in order - These days there is no excuse not to go paperless; how often do you print emails, instead filing them electronically. The intent with setting in order is to develop a system that allows you to quickly find and retrieve items, quickly identify required actions and clearly understand where things belong.

Create an electronic filing system that uses colors and icons. If you need to keep paper documents, try scanning and saving them electronically. Identify actions such as "replenishment" or "complete" with simple signals that don't require verbal instructions. Make sure all physical items have a defined "home" location, this will ensure that organization is kept up.

Items that are used every day should be stored (physically or virtually) within easy reach. This may include active files, equipment or information. The occasionally used items can be put away in less frequented areas such as external hard drives, storage closets or hard to reach shelves. In either case make sure everything is properly labeled and coded.

3) Shine - 5S is a chance for you to not only establish a better filing and storage system but also to purge your hard drives of excessive files. To insure your work area won't get cluttered after all this effort you should make it a habit to immediately go through mail and incoming items as they are received. Don't wait until later; this is especially true with any magazines and periodicals. Look through them, extract whatever information you need and throw the rest out.

4) Standardize - This is where you will develop the "rules" for maintaining the first three S's. Make sure your new efficient process is as intuitive as possible. Consider this a starting point that you will continually improve. Use Outlook to send yourself reminders and schedule tasks. Establish a standard color coding system for your reminders and tasks. This could indicate customers, priority, locations, etc. Once you've developed a personal 5S system try and spread it throughout your office. A good trick is to run contests or post "tips and tricks."

5) Sustain - Don't let your new system fall apart. You'll have to instill personal discipline to keep this process going. A good idea is to schedule a "Sorting" day every month or so. The intent is to make 5S habitual. Some companies like to develop formal methods to sustaining improvement through training and auditing. This can be done with sophisticated software programs or simple paper forms. Regardless of the method you choose, the idea is to hold yourself accountable.

One of the key elements to any process improvement program is efficiency. As you've seen this can start at a personal level and ultimately spread throughout your company. By using 5S you'll be amazed at how your productivity levels will increase. Following these five simple steps will guarantee that clutter and misplaced items area things of the past.

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Oct 20, 2010

Five Reasons to Implement Kaizen in Non-Manufacturing

Kaizen is a proven performance improvement tool. Adopted from Toyota, Kaizen generates breakthrough improvements quickly, without huge capital investments and/or extensive commitments of employ time. Kaizen is an efficient, effective technique for producing change in manufacturing operations.

Kaizen improves performance in non-manufacturing situations as well. Ideal for a wide variety of industries, it's well suited for non-manufacturing situations like those found in professional services, corporate headquarters, and branch offices. Entities like finance departments, corporate headquarters, national banks, and hospital emergency rooms all benefit from it.

Kaizen is appropriate for relatively straightforward, simple problems, problems that don't involve numerous functions or complex processes. It is also appropriate for well-defined problems or when the dissatisfactory performance of the current state is due to only a few factors that don't vary widely over time. The format for Kaizen can be individual, suggestion system, small group, or large group.

Reasons why a non-manufacturer would implement Kaizen include the following:

Lowers costs

Services differ from manufacturing. More variety exists in services than production. With manufacturing, the ideal is to produce the same product at the rate of customer demand. Manufacturers abhor variety because it slows production and creates the potential for incurring costs.

With services the ideal is to accommodate variety. A call center, for example, must handle as many different types of customer events as possible. Many events are the result of something not done or something not done right. Thus, services generate costs by "failure demand."

Kaizen focuses on eliminating failure demand. Employees make suggestions on how to do things right and use Kaizen to make changes. By helping workers get it right, Kaizen minimizes the need for, as well as the cost of, doing something or providing a service. Obviously, the more things a service or non-manufacturer does right, the less cost it generates.

Immediate Results

Kaizen takes place one small step at a time. It's driven to resolve specific problems. Instead of tackling large improvements, Kaizen makes minor enhances that solve large numbers of small problems. Thus, firms see Kaizen results quickly, encouraging them to make more suggestions. Large capital projects and major changes are still needed, but the real power of Kaizen is in making small improvements continually that improve processes or reduce waste. In short, Kaizen concentrates on making fast changes cost-effectively.

Reduces waste

Kaizen methodology involves making alterations, looking at the results, and then making additional alterations to improve the processes. These changes reduce waste, that is, eliminate activities adding cost only. Waste includes activities like overproduction; people, materials, or information waiting; unnecessary motions by workers; and unsynchronized transportation. It also includes excess inventory, correcting defective work, and unnecessary processing steps.

Energizes Employees

Kaizen depends on employees suggesting changes. For example, in 1999 alone, 7000 employees at a Toyota plant in the U.S submitted over 75,000 improvement suggestions, of which 99 percent were implemented. Kaizen encourages employees to come up with more and more of these small improvements, motivates them to improve their work lives, excites them about their work, and challenges them to be responsible for change. In other words, it empowers employees, enriches the work experience, and motivates workers.

Increase Productivity

A major national bank used Kaizen whenever it wanted to attack process speed and efficiency problems. The projects were all well defined, involved participants pulled off their jobs for only a few days, and included a cross-functional team. The projects also supported a cross-functional view of the process or work area.

Using Kaizen, the bank achieved cycle time improvements ranging from 30 percent faster to nearly 95 percent faster, measured sometimes in minutes and other times in days. One administration process went from 20 minutes to 12, and a complaint resolution process dropped from 30 days to 8. An added bonus for the bank was an increase in revenues. One high level project enabled the bank to charge for a service it had never charged for before. New revenues ran between $ 6 million and $9 million.

Kaizen produced similar results in an emergency room application. Standardizing layouts and stocking exam rooms increased nurse availability by 35 hours per week. Establishing a transportation procedure increased availability of patient care associates and nurses by 84 hours per week. Leveraging the existing ED information system reduced cycle time 71 per cent, to an average of 42 minutes.

Kaizen is a powerful improvement tool. It isolates employees from day-to-day tasks for a few days so they can concentrate on specific activities, like problem solving and improvement exclusively. Companies using kaizen find that they not only reduce waste and see immediate results, they also increase productivity, lower costs, and energize employees.

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Oct 18, 2010

What Is A Stable Process?

Process stability is one of the most important concepts of the Six Sigma methodology, or any quality improvement methodology for that matter. Stability involves achieving consistent and, ultimately, higher process yields through the application of an improvement methodology. Does a process need to be stable in order for a black belt to improve it? Try educating your child when he/she is having fits of joy and emotional distress at the same time (as many youngsters do!).

To help your understand why process stability (also known as variation reduction) is important, here are a few illustrative concepts:

Building widgets to be within customer specifications or tolerances: Some variation is inherent in the process, but the variation may not be wider than the specifications allow, otherwise the widget may not fit or function properly.

Mailing welcome packages after signing up for an online trading account: Customers expect time delay in receiving welcome materials due to processing, printing, the postal service, etc. But customers have specified that they expect receipt within 10 business days -- anything over indicates the process is unstable and the variation is too large. As an aside, anything over may also cause additional customer telephone calls to the processing center, which can add to customer service costs.

Changing the oil in your car is important every 3000 miles (or now even longer): Adding too much or too little oil may cause malfunctioning of your engine under certain circumstances. Again, variation is inherent, but the specifications of high or low oil must be met.

A loyal reader started a fabulous discussion on process stability (thanks Kim!), and I thought it would be useful to present some of the finer points. Below are a few posts from fellow quality professionals discussing how best to link quality to finances. If you have a question or would like to make an additional comment, just press the 'Post A Reply' button.

"Montgomery states in his book: Montgomery, Douglas. C. 'Introduction to Statistical Quality Control'. Wiley & Sons, Inc. New York. 2001. 4th ed. Pg 372, that in 1991 the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) was formed with one of their objectives being to standardize industry reporting requirements. He says that they recommend Cpk when the process is in control and Ppk when it isn't. Montgomery goes on to get really personal and emotional about this which is unique to this page of this book and other books I have of his. He thinks Ppk is baloney as he states 'Ppk is actually more than a step backwards. They are a waste of engineering and management effort - they tell you nothing

"While Montgomery gets frustrated over the use of Ppk, he does a poor job of explaining what a stable process is. I respect his works just the same as he alone has even attempted to try to explain the difference between a stable process and a non-stable one.

"This argument as well as numerous others that you can find on this site regarding use of Cpk / Ppk metrics, the validity of Six Sigma shifts, process capability, SPC, etc. all reflect our lack of definition for what is process control.

"So, how can we define process stability and or process control? Perhaps we can agree on some given amount of process shifting (1.5 sigma)? Perhaps we can agree that a stable process is that where it's Cpk values are above 1.67? Perhaps some combination of these or other events needs to take place such as three consecutive Cpk samples over 1.67, etc.

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Oct 17, 2010

Why Lean Manufacturing Fails

Lean works. Lean is right. Lean is good. Lean consistently proves its worth through continuous, stepwise gains for companies brave enough to take on the challenge of looking within themselves to correct deep founded issues with their status quo and historical patterns of behaviors. So, why doesn't Lean help every company that implements it?

The truth is, Lean doesn't work for some companies because THEY (i.e. the companies it doesn't work for) don't allow it to work for them. And that is why Lean fails.

Recently, something caught my eye that I've known for quite a few years now. It was refreshing to see, but only because misery loves company and in terms of Lean, is still rather unfortunate news. Last summer, an annual survey of companies trying to implement Lean showed that Middle Management Resistance was the biggest obstacle that they faced.

I guess there is an obvious sense of naivety on my side for thinking that Middle Management Resistance would eventually go away, but that would be assuming that there isn't a general ignorance and lack of a kazien mentality (i.e. betterment, continuous improvement mentality) exhibited by most managers. Managers do things because they believe that they know what is best. "It's always worked that way, so why try to change it."

There is comfort in familiarization and docile activities that typically bog down managers. Lean requires a huge, cultural change that breaks down the barriers of the common ways of looking at things. It also requires a great deal of involvement from everyone within an organization. This is especially true for the CEO (or senior staff entirely) AND the lowest ranking members of the company. Middle managers are the glue that holds these groups of people together.

I could go on forever on this topic and describe to you how this all ties into the Theory of Constraints and The Goal, departmentalization vs. cellularization, etc., but I'll just give you a few sentences.

Middle managers have their hands tied. Too often, they are bound to their traditional metrics and methods of thinking. This leads to production managers and supervisors pushing for their employees and work centers to be producing at 100% capacity just for the sake of running production and keep uptime on par with traditional company goals. This just creates over production, mismanaged inventories, misinformed operators, and in the end, a complete resistance to Lean Thinking. In the end, for too many middle managers, production trumps Lean and Six Sigma because it's all "ship, ship, ship....this product is a rush....ship, ship, ship". It's rather ironic that all of these managers' practices are the very nature and source of their need to have a always rushing mentality.

An open message to all managers: Study Lean, sign up for seminars or conferences, make an effort to earn that paycheck you receive for your work. Ignorance is bliss, right? WRONG. In manufacturing, ignorance is a sin. It represents the cognitive acceptance of absolute failure and is ultimately detrimental to your organizations' success and continued growth. It's time for you to quit calling Lean a fad or referring to Lean tools as buzzwords because you are too lazy to better your thinking, better yourselves, better the people that work above and below you, and most importantly, to better your company.

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Oct 14, 2010

APQP ( Advanced Product Quality Planning )

Advanced Product Quality Planning is a quality framework used to develop products in industry, particularly the automotive industry, and is quite similar to the concept of Design For Six Sigma (DFSS). According to the AIAG (Automotive Industry Action Group), the purpose of APQP is "to produce a product quality plan which will support development of a product or service that will satisfy the customer." The PQP process is described in the AIAG manual 810-358-3003.

APQP ( Advanced Product Quality Planning ) focuses on:
• Up-front quality planning
• Determining if customers are satisfied by evaluating the output and supporting continual improvement
APQP ( Advanced Product Quality Planning ) consists of four phases:
• Plan and Define Program
• Product Design and Development Verification
• Process Design and Development Verification
• Product and Process Validation
APQP ( Advanced Product Quality Planning ) also consists of five major activities:
• Planning
• Product Design and Development
• Process Design and Development
• Product and Process Validation
• Production
Ongoing feedback assessment and corrective action is an integral part of these phases and activities.

The APQP ( Advanced Product Quality Planning ) process has seven major elements:
• Understanding the needs of the customer
• Proactive feedback and corrective action
• Designing within the process capabilities
• Analyzing and mitigating failure modes
• Verification and validation
• Design reviews
• Control special / critical characteristics

PPAP ( Production Part Approval Process )

The PPAP ( Production Part Approval Process ) provides an approach to approval of products and services. This includes bulk materials and part submission warrant in the Advanced Quality Planning process. The objective of the PPAP is to ensure that suppliers of components comply with the design specification and can show documentary evidence that the level can be maintained during the life of the product.
PPAP approval is required:
• Preceding the first production shipment
• Whenever there is a change in the process
• Unless the customer waives the requirement

Advanced Quality Planning

Advanced Quality Planning is a process step to collect information on existing issues of quality and production. This information is collected to develop counter-measures so that similar problems can be avoided with future products. Advanced Quality Planning is a team process that depends on communication and planning. The process requires the involvement of the manufacturing, quality and supplier engineering departments.

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Oct 13, 2010

Types of Leadership

Leadership can be characterized in different ways. Sometimes the focus is on leadership styles while at other times the focus is on the characteristics of a leader. Yet, another way to look at types of leadership is by organizational levels. Leading at different levels of an organization requires a leader to use a different approach at each level. Thus, it is important for leaders to understand the different types of leadership and what they need to do to be an effective leader at each level. Although complex organizations may have many levels, listed here are the basic types of leadership based on organizational levels:

Self-leadership: Regardless of whether you are leading a small team or a large organization, all leadership endeavors begin with self-leadership. Self-leadership begins with introspection and development of one's emotional intelligence. Leaders must know themselves first before they can effectively lead others.

Individual leadership: Individual leadership is about performance at a high level as an individual contributor. Leadership is not only a function of a position on an organizational chart, but also individual performance. Anyone at any level of an organization can be a leader, even when they are not in a formal leadership position.. Individual leaders are recognized for their leadership in setting the pace and high standards in their work.

Team leadership: Team leadership is the leadership of a small team. It involves direct interaction between the leader and their followers. Generally, the leader is in frequent contact with their team members, and the leader is responsible for everything the team does or fails to do.

Organizational leadership: Organizational leadership is leadership at the intermediate and highest levels of an organization. This type of leadership is indirect leadership because the leaders generally do not have direct contact with everyone in the organization. They lead indirectly by influencing the larger organization through subordinate leaders. They also exert indirect leadership on the whole organization by managing cultural norms, rewards and recognition programs, and communications.

Macro leadership: Macro leadership is the leadership of complex organizations or even political units of government where there are many stakeholders. As difficult as it is to lead a large corporation, it is immeasurably more difficult to lead a city, state, or country as the elected political leader. The leader must lead by building political coalitions and use position power and influence to rally followers to their vision. Perhaps this is the most difficult type of leadership because it is so dependent on the leader's power of persuasion and charisma, even when they hold a lofty office like mayor, governor, prime minister, or president.

Although there are common elements of leadership at all of these levels, there are also important differences. Leaders must use different leadership skills to lead a team, an organization, or a city. For example, team leaders who are promoted into an organizational leadership role will find that the direct leadership skills which they used as a team leader will not work as well at the organizational level. If they can't quickly make the transition and learn how to lead indirectly, they will likely not succeed. It is important for the leader to recognize these differences and understand how they must exercise their leadership. Understanding the different types of leadership will be the difference between success and failure as a leader.

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Oct 12, 2010

Six Sigma Roadblocks

Resistance to change is one of the common Six Sigma roadblocks companies experience. Many employees resist to new processes for many reasons. Employees might be resistant because they feel like their job is being threatened. They might be resistant because they are used to doing the exact same thing every day and they don't want to learn something new. Employees often resist when they feel like they have lost ownership of a process as well. The best way to overcome resistance is to involve every employee in the change, even if they have a very small job to do. When employees are involved in making positive changes, they will be more likely to jump on board than if they have no part of the improvement. Make employees feel like they can help make improvements and resistance won't be one of the Six Sigma roadblocks you need to worry about.

Team selection is another common Six Sigma roadblock that occurs. Team selection can be a problem when the wrong team members are put on a project. You must carefully place people in a team and consider the different skill sets of each individual, as well as their personality and experience. If everyone in the group has the exact same skill and similar personalities, the team won't get far. Try to vary skill sets and choose people in a team who will be the most successful with a certain project. Don't base teams on seniority but on capabilities, willingness, creativity, and ability to work in a team.

Six Sigma roadblocks also occur when a business does not spend money on training people for different projects. Training is a cost a company must pay for when employees really need it. You should never expect staff to just figure a new system out. This isn't fair to the employees and it can create a difficult atmosphere to work in. Providing proper training enables employees to do their jobs to the best of their abilities and gives them the tools and resources to do so.

Change management is one of the Six Sigma roadblocks that can be an issue if it is not planned before a project even begins. A change management team should be in place at the beginning of any change or implementation within a company - especially a Six Sigma implementation. The change management team will determine the people involved and affected from a change, the steps needed to make the change, the positive results of the change, requirements, and more. This provides structure and allows a project to be more successful.

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Oct 11, 2010

Applying the Kaizen to Your Life

The kaizen philosophy is mostly known in the business world where it is a very popular concept used to improve the supply chain and infrastructure of businesses. It originally came from Japan from Toyota.

In today's society most people are constantly looking for the next big thing and the next magic pill that will change their lives and transform them immediately. If this is your focus, this philosophy is not something that will fit your needs very well. This philosophy is not about gaining immediate and fast results, it is however a philosophy based on constant development and thinking long term.

When you start applying the kaizen strategy to your life you need to realize that you don't suddenly have to do a lot of drastic changes and try to change your life completely in one single day. This strategy is a lot more about determining what kind of results you want to achieve in the long term, so the first step for you is to figure out what your desired end result really is.

After you have determined what you want to achieve you need to create an action plan for how you are going to achieve it. Once you have your start to finish action plan ready, you need to break it down into smaller steps. You then take these small steps and delegate them to different weeks and days. The kai zen philosophy is all about improving 1 % every single day and in this way reaching your goal. In this philosophy there really is no end goal as the general idea is that you can always improve something new and become even better and more efficient.

What you need to realize is that improving 1 % every single day won't give you just 100% improvement after 100 days. All those 1 percents will add up on top of each other and after 100 days you will have improved 300-400 %.

This philosophy is a really great way of chunking things down into smaller and more approachable steps in order to constantly improve you and constantly take action. Make sure you measure your improvements so you can get even further motivation and momentum in your never ending pursuit of perfection. Commit yourself to this pursuit and get started as fast as possible

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Oct 10, 2010

The Most Important Business Tools

Delivering exceptional customer service is undoubtedly a very difficult thing. But what is even harder is encouraging someone else to do so and that too consistently. Nowadays, customers in every business are becoming tough to please. To add more woe to this state of affairs, dedicated professionals are pretty difficult to find and hire. Retention of such employees is another big issue. This results in a tough situation for the customer service and Quality assurance departments of every business organization.

Still some organizations succeed in wowing the customers despite all these odds. The Utopian state is achieved by the organizations that follow four basic motivation strategies. These strategies are listed below:

Get Excited Yourself

Excitement is the key to motivation. The management must be extremely excited about a project. The feeling would naturally filter down. If a manager lacks excitement, his motivation levels would naturally be low. This is because motivation is a feeling that gets filtered from top to bottom. If the management is motivated from within, it would definitely get reflected in their behavior and the whole team would feel equally excited and motivated about their product and services. This would help them achieve the toughest of targets easily. So, to offer enhanced levels of customer service, excitement about the products is the first prerequisite.

Hire Motivated Professionals

This would reduce your time to motivate teams. This can be easily understood by the assertion - "Hire smart or manage tough."

To quote the Chief Operating Officer of a reputed healthcare organization, "We only hire people with "It". Where "It" is a pathological disease to want to serve people."

Yes, such professionals do exist. And they are the people who excel at every task you entrust them with. In fact hiring motivated professionals also casts a positive impact on the contemporary teams as well and the outcome is enhanced customer service.

Measure Employee Achievements and Failures

This is a general notion that humans get overwhelmed when all the attention is focused on them. A certain amount of highlighting of their achievements by the senior management assures total attention to priorities. This naturally increases both productivity and customer satisfaction.

Share the Profits

"What gets rewarded gets repeated." Measurements must be tied with a suitable reward. Every business man must remember that nothing can motivate an employee better than cash incentives. A nineteenth century industrialist Robert Bosch said,

"I don't pay good wages because I make a lot of money. I make a lot of money because I pay good wages."

Quality assurance, abridged as QA is another tool for bringing home better levels of customer service. QA stands for a planned and systematic production process. The major thrust of this process is over proffering supplementary confidence to enhance the aptness of the finished product.
Merriam-Webster's definition of QA states -

"It is a set of activities intended to ensure that products (goods and/or services) satisfy customer requirements in a systematic, reliable fashion."

The major aim of every business remains ascertaining maximum levels of profits which can only be achieved by enhanced measures of customer service and quality assurance.

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Oct 9, 2010

Ways to Improve Quality Control

Quality control requires employee involvement in certain ways. For example, Unmotivated employees with low morale are likely to produce a much poorer product than motivated employees with high morale are. The lack of adequate employee training can also significantly reduce the quality of any product or service.

Having adequate quality control on products and services allows a business to offer product warranties with confidence. Adequate warranties can be important in tough economic times. Customers don't want to have to buy another product anytime soon. They prefer to have the products they purchase endure.

Outstanding customer relations is the name of the game in a competitive market, and one of the best ways to gain and keep an advantage over the competition is to provide the best products available. Just having the lowest prices isn't good enough. If your products or services are faulty, you may lose your customers in droves. Poor quality equates to poor products, which translates to decreased customer opinion and satisfaction.

An effective quality control procedure requires the development of certain standards or criteria for products and services that will satisfy customers. Without written, predefined requirements and measures of acceptability for any product or service, it is impossible to hold employees to any standard of excellence. The most successful quality control procedures locate product defects long before such products appear in the final stages of production.

It is during the quality control procedure that flaws in the system are located. When similar defects are found in many of the same products, management can determine new steps to improve the production process and reduce the number of such deficiencies. This advances the overall caliber of the finished products. Business services can be similarly evaluated.

It would be asking too much to expect no defective products or incidents of poor service to appear. However, management should determine a certain point which defective goods or services are no longer acceptable. For instance, a 3% rate of defective products or services may be tolerable, but 5% may not be. Still, management should be always on guard for ways to improve procedures and reduce the number of defective products. The closer to the beginning of the manufacturing process the defects are found, the more money the company will save overall. You can see that quality control fills an important function in improving customer relations and promoting return business, thereby improving overall business relations and profitability.

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Oct 8, 2010

ISO Certification

To gain a true competitive advantage in today's market, any business needs the ability to meet legislation, truly add value to their customers and stakeholders and reduce the risk of losses due to product or service failures, accidents and other incidents.

The management systems supported by ISO (International Standards Organisation) provide a frame work for you and your organisation to achieve these goals and confidence to all customer and stakeholders that you are maintaining standards.

What Are ISO Standards?

The ISO standards are an internationally recognised set of benchmarks for any organisation. They enable you to create and maintain a structured management system with a clearly defined set of processes and controls to ensure that the ability to meet all legislation, stakeholder requirements and reduce business risk is achieved, on an ever improving basis.

ISO standards cover many areas of a business and include:

ISO 9001 for quality management
ISO 14001 for environmental management
OHSAS 18001 for health and safety management

Each standard is based on a system of 'Plan-Do-Check-Act which means that these essential areas for any business can be managed individually or integrated to suit the needs of a business.

Why go for Certification

All these standards can be externally certified by a Certification Body which means that your stakeholders and customers have the confidence that the systems will be consistently maintained as long as you hold the certificate.

As a business, you can then use your certification not only to improve your business but also to:

Promote your organisation as best in class
Provide a simple way to demonstrate to your stakeholders your commitment to improvement
Give confidence to your supply chain by promoting your certification in your website, in tenders and quotations.

Quality Management

The most widely implemented system in the world is ISO 9001, which drives an organisation to ensure customer satisfaction and improving internal efficiency. The standard requires you to organise your business as a set of processes and support these processes with key principles of customer focus, leadership, involvement of people, analysis of data and developing beneficial supplier relationships.

Environmental Management

ISO 14001 is an environmental management system that allows you to identify the key impacts that you have on the environment, important legislation and then set about controlling and improving these impacts. By implementing the standard, you can lower the cost of waste management, save money in energy consumption, lower distribution costs, and improve their reputation and image across the business community and society.

Occupational Health & Safety Management

With a focus on your employees, OHSAS 18001 systematically assesses hazards and legislation in your business to make sure that you are legal and present the lowest practical risk to your work force. The standard helps you not only to avoid losses involved with accidents, and time off work but again improves your competitive advantage and sets you apart as a supplier and employer of choice.

Gaining an 'Accredited' Certificate

Independent certification is important to show that your system is credible and gives increased confidence to your supply chain and stakeholders. It also ensures that the standard is maintained internally and that business losses are reduced and performance is continuously improved. It is important however, that your certificate is awarded by an accredited certification body. Simply put, if a certification body is not recognised by UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Service) then many stakeholders are now refusing to accept the certificate because there is no proof of independence and competence of the assessor.

So in Conclusion

Management systems are now well established, and in the case of ISO 9001, with over 1 million certifications in 170 countries, it is almost an expectation. Environmental and Health & Safety systems are rapidly becoming the way to stand out from your competition.

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Oct 7, 2010

The key to World Class Performance

5S is the key to world class performance it simple but effective. 5S is all about creating a more effective workplace that is well organized, free of clutter, and organized so that you can easily find things. It is also incredibly clean.

This program is known as the 5S program, it is called this because the basic elements begin with the letter "S". These elements are:

Set In Order

The 5S methodology is simple but effective. It also provides the foundation of many other continuous improvement programs.

People practice the five pillars in their everyday lives. When we keep things like our toiletries, wash cloths and towels in convenient and familiar place, we are practicing the first two pillars - Sort and Set In Order. If our home environment become cluttered and disorganized we tend to function a lot less efficiently.

It is unfortunate that few companies are as standardized with 5S routines as is the daily life of a well organized person. In the workplace it is just as important as in the daily life of a person that effective routines for orderliness be maintained to ensure the smooth and effective flow of operational activities. Sort and Set In Order are the foundation for improving throughput, decreasing inventory and reducing operating costs.

Keep in mind that:

A neat and clean workplace has higher Quality
A neat and clean workplace has higher productivity and less Cost
A neat and clean workplace meets Delivery requirements better
A neat and clean workplace is a Safer place to work
A neat and clean workplace has higher Moral


The purpose of Sort is to remove all items from the workplace that are not needed for current production or clerical operations. When you are first getting started, this can be a difficult task as it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between what is needed and what is not.

People have a tendency to hang on to parts, materials, tools, etc thinking that they may need them later on. Often times extra inventory and inappropriate tools and equipment are left in the work place, this has a tendency to accumulate over time and gets in the way of production activities. This leads to a gradual build up of waste over time. The key to this is a process for evaluating the necessity of an item using a process called "Red Tagging". This process will greatly reduce the risk of disposing of items that may be needed later.

Set In Order

Set In Order is defined as "arranging needed items so that they are easy to use and labeling them so that they are easy to locate and put away. You should always implement Set In Order with Sort.

Once you have thoroughly Sorted everything, all that you will have left will be the items necessary to support production. Your next step will be to make it obvious where these items belong and in what quantity so that people can quickly find them and or return them.


The third element is Shine. This wiping down machinery and equipment, sweeping floors and making sure that everything is clean. It is also about inspecting machines and equipment for proper operation and possible damage or needed repair.

Shine has a definite impact on producing defect-free product, by preventing dust, dirt, and debris form accumulating in the workplace.


Standardize differs from the first three pillars which can be thought of as activities. It is the method that you use to carry out Sort, Set In Order, and Shine. Standardize is related to these three activities, however it is most closely related to Shine. It occurs when you keep machines and their surrounding areas free of dirt, debris, and oil. In other words it is the condition that exists when shine is appropriately practiced for some time.


Sustain means making the first four pillars a habit by maintaining correct procedures and processes. You will find that the first for pillars are relatively easy to implement if you and your fellow employees will commit to sustaining the desired 5S conditions. If you do, you will find that your workplace will enjoy high productivity and quality while reducing unnecessary waste and high cost of operation.


Your organization will experience many benefits from implementing 5S. These benefits include:

Improved quality zero defects
Decreased cost through reduced waste
Improved delivery through less production delays and downtime
Increased morale because of a cleaner, healthier workplace
Increase safety because of reduced hazards.

Program Implementation

The key to an effective 5S program is proper planning and implementation. This can only occur if you employ the use of a 5S implementation team. This team must be properly trained and given sufficient resources and management support. The most effective planning and implementation comes about when the team is coached or guided through the process in a workshop environment. Another key is selecting a small target area to start with and get the program running properly before rolling it out to the entire company.

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Oct 5, 2010

Principles of Quality Management

Customer focus is a big factor with quality management. A business needs to focus on the customer's needs and ensure the requirements of these customers are met entirely. Customers need to be happy or they will not return for more service or continue to purchase your product. It is important for a business to have a clear understanding of exactly what the customer wants and a detailed plan on how these wants and needs will be met. Customer focus includes meeting their needs, constant communication and contact, and good delivery.

Leadership comes from within the business, and in order to have a solid quality management team, you need to have someone who is a good leader heading the departments. Leadership cannot be trained but it is a quality some people have and others do not. Always find a good leader to instill an environment of teamwork within your business. Leadership includes involving everyone properly and efficiently. Utilizing people resources in the right areas where they are strongest is a skill a good leader has.

Process management is another principle in quality management that must be considered. Processes need to be properly structured and laid out to ensure a project delivery is timely and successful. Everyone included in a project need to follow specific processes set forth at the beginning of a project. Projects cannot be started without processes set forth. When processes are not properly planned, goals and deadlines are not met.

Continual improvement is a principle in quality management that will ensure departments improve productivity, products get better, and the business is overall more successful. A quality management department needs to see every possible way to improve everything throughout a business, including relationships inside and out of the business, quality, and planning, every step of the way.

A factual approach needs to be taken to decision making. Some managers have a bad habit of assuming things are going to go one way, and when then they don't, problems are caused. When decisions are made, they need to be based on total facts. These facts might be on current prices, trends, and analysis.

Beneficial supplier relationships are the final important principle toward total quality management. Having a beneficial relationship with a supplier means, they might be more inclined to cut you deals, work with you on payments, and help your business achieve the goals you are working toward. Every business relies on good suppliers and your business needs to have an outstanding relationship with them.

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Oct 2, 2010

How to Implement a Kanban in Lean Manufacturing

In fact most companies all over the world have implemented some form of lean manufacturing. A big part of lean manufacturing is the Kaizen and Kanban methods. But in a Toyota production system, these methods cannot exist alone without total facility analysis and the implementation of the lean process in general. The Kanban means one thing that is visible, in Japanese and according to the best lean manufacturing system every product should be made as one until it reaches the customer but this is not very efficient in production methods. Still there are ways of implementing the system of "one" within the lean manufacturing system.

In a lean processes there are several teams formed for each department that involves the manufacturing of the part. These teams are formed to produce communication between the different departments. First you meet and get to know every person in your group and then you train those members in world class manufacturing and in other methods like Kanban and Kaizen. Kanban and Kaizen methods cannot be implemented without first implementing the basic system.

The process can be implemented into any department within a company, but first a complete analysis needs to be done to identify what areas need more efficiency including areas such as maintenance, sales, service, engineering production and even shipping. The key is to know the areas that need to be worked on and implement the plan, and this plan may be ever changing and ongoing.

A method within this system is the KanBan, which is Japanese, meaning something that is visible that helps in the transporting, moving or production of a product. This visible thing can be an electronic signal which signals the moving of a product from one station to another, a pallet on which product is put and then moved to another area, a bin with the same intentions, or anything similar.

The kanban method helps you manage inventory or processes; they allow you to know what is in stock and what has been shipped very easily, because each kanban has a certain number of products within. Even when you use an electronic signal you know how many of a product is shipping and how many are produced.

As mentioned before the kanban method cannot be started and worked with efficiently until you really understand how it works. If you don't have the right organization and equipment the kanban system will not make much of a difference.

Lean manufacturing works as a whole, and certain methods like kanbans and kaizens work within the whole lean system. By the same token you cant have a lean system if you don't have kaizens or kanbans.

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