Opportunity for Lean Tutor

Lean Tutor required with experience in the Manufacturing Sector. Lean experience in the Services sector and a qualification as a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt would be advantageous.

Please contact Éamon O’Bearra on 087 267 0480 or email


The 3 Ds of Change Management

Lean Six Sigma Projects involve implementing solutions which to a greater or lesser degree involve people. Resistance to Change is part of human nature with some people more accepting of the need for change and the continuous challenging of the status quo than others.

So how do we convince people to come on board the Lean Six Sigma Journey and go along with our Project Objectives in the Define Phase and the New Process in the Improve Phase of the DMAIC Methodology? Easier said than done, Grasshopper!

Well one technique used is known as the 3Ds – Data, Demonstration, and Demand.


Some people are convinced by Data – this would involve showing them a credible business case and baseline data in the Define Phase e.g. our current process is not capable and has an defect rate of 4.5% (158/3500 units) for Q4 of 2012. The cost of this is €56,000 if annualised.


Other people fall into the doubting Thomas category and have to see to believe – in this case we use Demonstration and could simply let the physical defects accumulate for a lengthy time in the quarantine cage and let people see with their own eyes the magnitude of the problem.


Demand normally comes from the customer or marketplace but could also come from the Regulatory Body or Corporate Management – this could be a memo saying that unless the process performance improves there is a risk that we might lose the contract or we might not get the new business or we might get fined or have our operations suspended.

Irrespective of which or all of the 3Ds you use, Change Management is all about the People and convincing them to do something different on a Monday morning versus what they were doing the previous Monday!!

(Note: DMAIC is Define Measure Analyse Improve Control)


Cost savings from Lean Six Sigma training continue

We have been delivering Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and Green Belt training for the past 10 years. Our training is mostly in Ireland but increasingly we have started to deliver training overseas. We now have an International section on our website,

Recently we have tracked the cost savings for each individual project completed as part of Black and Green Belt training. The savings achieved by delegates for their companies are very impressive.

The average cost saving per project for the last:
- 36 Black Belts was €305,522
- 14 Black Belt (Service & Transaction) was €93,002
- 377 Green Belts was €78,843

Since we started collating these figures, the total cost savings is €42,024,488.

€42million in cost savings for Irish industry.
€42million achieved during Black Belt or Green Belt training.
€42million that does not include the further cost savings achieved when training is complete.

Well done to all the Black and Green Belt graduates!


A Black Belt project with a difference

Believe or not, a recent Black Belt Project in a large Service Organisation achieved over €100,000 per annum savings by focusing in on the dreaded world of paper, paper and more paper!!

The Project focused on:

- Reducing the number of reports being generated and issued

- Reducing the cycle time for the generation of the top 10 most time consuming remaining reports.

Commonsense one might rightly conclude but it is only when the organisation compiled and costed baseline data in the Define Phase of the DMAIC that the paper elephant in the room began to roar for attention.

Most impressively the Project Team decided to put Dumbo on a permanent diet by ensuring that any new reports being proposed were scrutinised with a value add and business case assessment before being approved.


The Usual Suspects, Part 2

I wrote an original blog post a while back on unusual lean six sigma projects called the ‘Usual Suspects – Part 1’.

This is the sequel, just when you thought it was safe to go back into the Line Up Room!

Typical lean six sigma projects focus on everyday process and metrics that most companies use. For example in manufacturing – yields, defects, cycle times, downtime, lead times, set-up and changeover times and in the transactional and service industry – call duration, number of errors, service level agreements, over and under payments. These would be considered – the usual suspects, the same type of projects focused on the same type of processes.

However, since the ‘Usual Suspects – Part 1’ we have come across a range of quite innovative and uncommon projects. For example;

· Reducing the number of reports in a financial services company
· Reducing the cycle time of the interview process whilst maintaining or reducing the level of turnover in the organisation
· Reducing the level of scanning of customers files
· Optimising the use of Online payslips
· Reduce the waste and cost of customer issued literature
· Increase the use of ‘Green Statements’
· Better meeting management
· Application of Lean Principles for Quality Systems
· Reduction in Canteen Operating Costs

If you notice the common theme here is that these projects are being carried out in departments and functions which in many organisations are always ‘left out’ of continuous improvement or process improvement Programs. It has always been the manufacturing, engineering, materials, customer service, and operations processes.

The morale of the story is that it doesn’t always have to be the ‘usual suspects’


The everyday use of the DMAIC – common sense can sometimes be … common!

In the Lean Six Sigma program the DMAIC (define, measure, analysis, improve, control) is deployed in conjunction with the Project to drive process improvement. In fact, Juran, the renowned quality guru said that breakthrough improvement (in the order of 50%) happens in no other way – project by project. He has been proven to be on the money as per the benchmark and most successful Lean Six Sigma companies like GE and Honeywell.

However, that does not mean that the logic behind the DMAIC cannot be used in everyday life. In many instances, we use it intuitively unknown to ourselves – e.g. we discover a water stain under the sink:

  • In the define phase we establish the nature of the problem – is it a fresh leak or an old dried out stain?
  • For measure, we quantify the problem – what is the size of the stain? Where exactly is it?
  • In the analyse phase we determine likely causes and try and validate it – a lose pipe connector or a worn seal.
  • The improve phase involves a solution – tighten the connector, replace the seal and if possible use a more robust seal with a longer lifecycle.
  • The control phase ensures the improve phase has been implemented effectively and has addressed the problem – check the connector is not loose or the seal is intact and that there is no evidence of any signs of water or leak. We check periodically until we are confident that this remains the case.
  • Therefore, the basic logic and closed loop approach behind the DMAIC can be quite useful in everyday situations but unfortunately it not used where it is most needed. The myriad of issues dominating the public airways e.g. the Ryan report, the endless tribunals, the reform of our Health Service, the reform of politics are all examples where the DMAIC loses Improve and Control and gets stuck permanently in the Analyse Phase with report after report gathering dust!


    Which Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Projects?

    An analysis of the projects chosen by 275 Lean Six Sigma Green Belt course attendees, reveals the following:

    Project type and frequency
    Waste reduction/elimination 63
    Cycle time reduction 41
    Process yield improvement 34
    Process improvement 19
    Reduction in NVA activities 19
    Increase in process throughput 13
    Process control 8
    Cost reduction 6
    Customer satisfaction 6
    Process risk reduction 6
    Quality improvement 6
    Improving process capability 5
    Cost savings 4
    Design change 4
    Defect reduction 3
    Risk exposure 3
    Compliance 2
    Improved staff utilisation 2
    Process leveling 2
    Process stability 2
    Other 27

    Total 275

    The following is a graphical display of above information.

    Green Belt projects

    What’s interesting is that lean type projects were more popular. By way of context, 81% of the the projects were completed in financial services and pharma companies.


    Which Lean Six Sigma Black Belt projects are being chosen?

    We carried out an analysis on projects chosen by people who attended our Lean Six Sigma Black Belt courses.

    Firstly there was a broad cross section of companies represented as shown in the following graph. Financial services and pharma accounted for 55% of companies.

    Black Belt projects

    An analysis of project type revealed the following:

    Project type and frequency

    Process yield improvement 16
    Waste elimination or reduction 9
    Cycle time reduction 5
    Reduction in NVA activities 5
    Improvement in customer satisfaction 3
    Improving process capability 3
    Increase in process capacity 2
    Cost reduction 1
    Design change 1
    Process reliability improvement 1
    Process risk reduction 1

    Total 47

    Process yield improvement and Waste elimination/reduction account for 53% of all project types. The following graph displays the above data.

    Black Belt projects

    Tomorrow I will post on Green Belt project selection.


    StickySorter: A Tool for Organising Information

    We came across this tool for our Six Sigma practitioners but I think it is a useful tool for anyone involved in gathering ideas or tracking/sorting information. Definitely worth checking it out…download it now!

    Sticky Sorter is a Grassroots Project, developed by two Microsoft Employees, it is a simple tool for arranging and categorizing virtual sticky notes for affinity diagramming sessions. It can also be used in other information sorting tasks.

    Sumit Basu (Researcher, Microsoft Research) and Julie Guinn (User Researcher, Microsoft Office Design Group), co-creators of StickySorter tell us what inspired them to design this handy tool…More


    6000 Free Training places

    Today 25th May 2011, the government announced the introduction of a new €20m multi-annual higher education fund.  The fund, entitled Springboard, is designed to provide education and training opportunities for the unemployed. 

    Phase 1 totalling an investment of €5m, has just been launched and SQT is one of the Training Providers chosen to offer specific training under this fund.

    The primary objective of Springboard is to help unemployed people to remain as close as possible to the labour market by accessing part-time, flexible higher education and training opportunities, to up-skill or re-skill in areas where sustainable employment opportunities may arise as the economy recovers.

    There is a range of almost 200 different higher education training courses on offer, all free of charge to those who are 6 months or more unemployed (at date of course commencement).  For specific acceptance criteria and to view the courses on offer, go to the Springboard website here.

    SQT’s fully funded course is our popular Lean Six Sigma Green Belt training course commencing in Dublin on 19th July.  Six  Sigma is a very successful methodology for productivity and continuous improvement which is being utilised by companies of all sizes in the Healthcare, Financial, Manufacturing and Service sectors in Ireland and beyond. 

    Our 5 day workshop (delivered over 2 months), will expose delegates to a set of very powerful problem solving tools and techniques resulting in a skill set, that will help delegates to successfully contribute to real process improvement and waste elimination projects in any work environment. 

    You will learn more about…

    Understanding variation and waste, understanding Customer Requirements (VoC, SIPOC, CTQ), Process Mapping, Graphical Analysis using SigmaXL, Statistics of a process (Capability, Control, MSA), Cause and Effect Matrices, Root Cause Analysis, Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (Predictive Risk Management), Creative thinking, Managing Change, Mistake Proofing, Process Control Plans and many more.

    This new practical skill set, on top of an existing qualification or work experience, will help open new possibilities as, let’s face it, good problem solvers are needed today in EVERY industry.

    So if you are thinking of re-training, don’t delay, as these 200 free training courses will all book up very fast. All bookings must be made via the Bluebrick website here.

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