• Elements of Change Management with Lean Six Sigma

    May 31st, 2022 | by

    Change is the order of the day for all businesses. Stagnation leads to entrenched inefficiencies which, often enough, are capable of dragging a business down. Whether change comes in the form of new processes, new management or new clients, all businesses require the ability to adapt and make shifts as necessary. Unfortunately, overcoming organisational inertia can be a major challenge. Introducing Lean Six Sigma projects is a major change on its own, but the tools and systems it provides to a business can also facilitate changes and deliver long-term process improvements.

    What is Change Management?

    Change comes for all businesses. It is critical to the ongoing success of an organisation, although it often presents a range of technical and cultural problems that must be addressed. The role of a change management team is to successfully manage the shift. Using a dedicated team to manage change allows the process to be centrally controlled by leaders who understand what the change involves and can address any issues with the implementation.
    Introducing Lean Six Sigma into a business is undoubtedly a change in and of itself, but the tools offered by Lean Six Sigma also act as an effective change management tool. In fact, change management forms an integral part of process improvement and greatly increases the likelihood that changes are sustainable and a long-term success.

    Communicating the Nature of the Change

    The major roadblock for most types of change is that the most affected employees lack an understanding of the nature of the change. Whether change takes the form of a new CEO, new processes, new technology, new clients or something else, employees are often left having to make changes blindly.

    Altering the way employees work and how their results are measured can create significant cultural and technical friction. Without knowing the exact Why and How of the change, employees are left unmotivated to learn new processes and overcome their entrenched working behaviours. The good news is that when implementing Lean Six Sigma across an organisation, communicating the nature of the change is a mission-critical step. During the first phase of implementation, project sponsors are charged with clearly communicating the details of the change and helping the affected employees understand the Why and How of the project.

    Understanding the Outcome and Benefits

    Not all organisations have the time or resources to offer wide-scale Lean Six Sigma training to their employees. Instead, they rely on dedicated teams (often composed of Black Belt professionals from outside the organisation) to sponsor and deliver projects. While this system can deliver short-term benefits, it can be a struggle to create sustainable, ongoing change.
    Including all employees in the Lean Six Sigma mindset makes everyone in the organisation responsible for the outcome and benefits. Assisting employees to understand the point of any changes helps them become invested in the outcome and proves to them the value of the project. Once they are convinced of the project’s benefits, employees are far more likely to overcome their own reluctance to change and work towards an outcome that benefits everyone involved.

    Lean Six Sigma as a Change Management Tool

    An effective deployment of Lean Six Sigma inherently creates organisational change. While the change delivers product and process improvements that are beneficial to everyone involved, entrenched patterns can be difficult to overcome.
    This human element of change is the one that is most often overlooked by managers attempting to make changes. Ideally, Lean Six Sigma professionals are trained in change management, and they understand the importance of managing the people involved in the process. In most cases, an effective Lean Six Sigma project will be its own advocate. With effective communication that helps employees understand and become invested in the project, Lean Six Sigma can serve as both an organisational shift and a change management tool that facilitates the shift.


    Create Effective Change With Lean Six Sigma Training from Thornley Group

    Inspiring change among entrenched employees presents a challenge, even for experienced process improvement teams. Properly managing projects and the change they bring is critical. Thornley Group offers a range of Lean Six Sigma training solutions designed to help organisations implement sustainable change and deliver long-term improvements to their business. Our instructors are experienced in the real world deployment of Lean Six Sigma projects and how to manage the accompanying changes. For more information on our training programs and corporate solutions, please feel free to contact Thornley Group at any time.

  • Companies That Use Lean Six Sigma

    May 31st, 2022 | by

    The call for high quality manufacturing processes has only increased in the decades since Lean Six Sigma was first introduced. With consumers expecting seamless experiences and reliable products, Lean Six Sigma is more relevant than ever, both in and out of the manufacturing sector. Small companies all over the world use Lean Six Sigma to improve the quality of their products and reduce waste. But, did you know some of the world’s largest companies employ teams of dedicated process improvement specialists? We want to take a look at some of the world’s most famous Lean Six Sigma companies and see where your qualifications could take you.

    1. Ford

    As one of the progenitors of process improvement, it should be no surprise to find the Ford Motor Company on this list. While Ford originated and used its own early version of process improvement, in 1999 the company adopted Six Sigma as part of a push to improve the quality of its products and control defects that plagued production at the time. Taking inspiration from other major manufacturers like General Electric, Ford adopted Six Sigma across the company with support from senior management to deliver better products and win back consumer trust.

    2. General Electric

    Operating in major industries including aviation, power generation, renewable energy and healthcare, General Electric (GE) is a global production leader. GE invested in Lean Six Sigma in a big way, requiring all employees to undergo a training program and complete a Six Sigma project before the end of 1999. Thanks to the full support of GE’s leadership, their Six Sigma implementation was highly successful. As part of the original program, employees were encouraged to participate with rewards such as promotions and bonuses being handed out upon the success of their Lean Six Sigma projects.

    3. Honeywell

    Honeywell International is a multinational company that produces a range of consumer products, engineering services and aerospace systems. Their original implementation of Six Sigma came during the late 90s when they merged with AlliedSignal, another major production company of the time. The two companies combined their process improvement systems to develop their in-house Six Sigma Plus program, which is reported to deliver in excess of $1 billion of productivity improvements annually.

    4. 3M

    A manufacturing giant producing everything from Post-It Notes to consumer electronics, 3M is a global leader and Lean Six Sigma organisation. Originally introduced by former-CEO James McNerny, Six Sigma helped transform 3M, saving the company millions of dollars and promoting the innovative thinking they have become famous for. To date, 3M has more than 30,000 successful Six Sigma based projects to their name.

    5. Caterpillar Inc

    Famous for their yellow mining, construction and earthworks equipment, Caterpillar Inc (commonly called Cat), employs a Six Sigma program that dates back to the early 2000s. Six Sigma proved so effective that even in its first year, Cat saw the savings of their program outweigh its implementation costs. Ultimately, through process improvement, Cat delivered impressive savings and quality improvements, reaching their initial revenue goals two years ahead of schedule.

    6. Xerox

    Famous for their early invention of much of the technology we use today, including photocopiers, computer mice and more, Xerox became a Lean Six Sigma company in the 90s. By 2002, Six Sigma had been rolled out across their entire company, delivering efficiencies to their broad range of production operations. Xerox reports hundreds of millions in annual benefit from its Six Sigma projects, helping the company focus on data-driven quality improvement and waste reduction.

    7. Bosch

    A major player in producing consumer goods, industrial technology, energy, tools, security systems and vehicle parts, Bosch is a true manufacturing giant. One of Bosch’s primary process improvement tools, Six Sigma has helped Bosch pursue efficiency, effectiveness and flexibility throughout their production systems. Process improvement has become an indispensable tool for Bosch, with the company’s various national presences operating their own Lean departments to realise transformations in all local markets. Meanwhile, the company stands at the forefront of providing smarter manufacturing solutions to other companies around the world. As one of their major production areas, Bosch develops a range of technology and equipment designed to help their customers bring about the Lean factories of the future.

    Ready to Update Your Resume With Lean Six Sigma? Train With Thornley Group Today

    With roots dating back nearly half a century in some of the world’s largest manufacturing companies, Lean Six Sigma remains a highly effective tool for managing quality and improving outcomes. For professionals, it presents a unique opportunity to enter an in-demand industry and provide expertise that supports the operations of the world’s most productive companies. Whether you are looking for your first Lean Six Sigma certification or are ready to obtain your next one, Thornley Group offers a training solution for you. Our experienced instructors provide engaging material that offers you all the tools and information you need to make a difference to your organisation. Contact us today for more information on our Lean Six Sigma training programs and corporate solutions or to book a course with Thornley Group.

  • The History of Lean Six Sigma

    April 26th, 2022 | by

    Lean Six Sigma as we know it today has been the constant work of many decades. Hundreds of large companies and great minds have adapted the techniques, building on what came before and developing robust systems for process improvement. But Lean and Six Sigma actually have separate origins. The two systems have many areas of overlap, but they were developed independently by two different manufacturing giants who saw vast opportunities for improvement in their businesses. To understand how Lean Six Sigma fits into our modern business models, it is important to understand the driving force and history behind the practice.

    Early Process Improvement Techniques

    With the beginning of the industrial revolution in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, manufacturing businesses were quick to seek out ways to improve their processes. While early manufacturing was rudimentary and produced less complex components, early inventors like Eli Whitney were key promoters of process improvement. Whitney was a champion of interchangeable parts in manufacturing. The interchangeable parts movement sought to standardise certain parts and components, meaning they could be used for many different processes.

    There are many early examples of process improvement in manufacturing, some of which even date back thousands of years. But, as technology improved, champions such as Whitney were able to press for real changes that would go on to underpin the modern world as we know it.

    The History of Lean Principles

    Lean is a set of principles for efficiency in processes that resulted from the Toyota Production System in the mid 20th century. In the 1950s, Toyota was still a small-scale car manufacturer. World War II had hurt their business, but producing trucks during the Korean War gave Toyota the experience and income they needed to expand. Wanting to further their business after the war, several Toyota executives visited automakers like Ford, touring their factories and learning from their American counterparts’ success. These visits ultimately led Toyota to develop their Lean Manufacturing principles, all of which are still applicable and valuable in modern businesses.

    The Toyota Production System (Toyota’s Lean Manufacturing system) primarily focused on identifying and eliminating process waste. This improved the quality and flow of production, ultimately delivering better products to their customers. By empowering every worker with respect and the ability to reach their potential, Toyota used Lean principles to minimise waste, produce better cars and pioneer manufacturing standards that have since spread across the world.


    The History of Six Sigma

    The 20th century was ripe with manufacturing ideologies such as Lean and Total Quality Management. But, as Lean grew in popularity, so too did Six Sigma. Developed in the 1980s by Motorola – who produced microprocessors and spurred the computing revolution at the time – Six Sigma was their approach to quality improvement and control. Motorola’s Six Sigma gave rise to the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, Control) principles that we still use today. The DMAIC framework empowered Motorola’s employees to institute greater quality control over processes that were designed to create standardised and highly repetitive products. A Six Sigma process is one in which 99.99966% of all parts are produced without defect.

    Motorola’s Six Sigma and its DMAIC principles ensured their products were of the utmost quality and repeatability, which is a critical factor in microprocessor production. Their new focus on quality led to great improvements in the finished product, saving Motorola $2.2 billion over the next 4 years, and making their products highly sought after by a growing industry.

    Want to See How Lean Six Sigma Applies to Modern Business? Train with Thornley Group Today!

    Process improvement has its roots in humanity’s very earliest civilisations. The pursuit of efficiency and improvement has always driven us to seek new ideas and better results. Lean and Six Sigma have been applied by businesses all over the world for decades with great success. Improving your business, reducing waste and delivering better products is the goal of all Lean Six Sigma training with the Thornley Group team. We empower process improvement professionals with the tools and skills they need to make a difference and offer major benefits to their organisations. If you are interested in learning more about Lean Six Sigma and how it can help your business thrive, speak to our experienced instructors and book your next Lean Six Sigma training course today!

  • What is a Lean Six Sigma Project Charter?

    April 14th, 2022 | by

    Every business improvement project comes from somewhere. Often, organisational leaders identify a problem that is having an adverse effect on customers. Although well-intentioned, the next step is that managers immediately try to solve the problem. This can be successful in the short-term. However, in many cases, the same problems reoccur because the systemic issue goes unaddressed. To avoid this, Lean Six Sigma provides frameworks that give improvement teams adequate tools to plan their projects. The project charter is one of the most common tools. In this article we will cover Lean Six Sigma project charters in detail and see how they help improvement teams deliver sustainable results.

    What is a Project Charter?

    A Project Charter is a simple document that lays out the Lean Six Sigma project along with its goals and scope. The document is intended to support project proposals and provide a high-level framework for process improvement professionals to plan their work.

    Project planning and development is a key component of Lean Six Sigma. Organisations commonly make the mistake of failing to plan their work and its long-term effects. While this does not prevent the business from achieving some success in their process improvement, the result is often that businesses have to revisit the same problems over and over. Introducing project charters allows improvement teams to make a fundamental plan that can be presented to managers and used to guide their efforts.

    The 6 Components of a Project Charter

    Project charters are intended to be high-level overviews of the improvement project. In most cases the documents are short, making them easy to read and excellent tools for improvement teams that want to present their projects to others.

    A project charter details 6 components:

    1. Business Case. The primary purpose of developing a project charter is to improve the organisation’s processes. The business case section is devoted to describing why the project benefits the company and why it should receive management support.
    2. Identify the Problem. Problem statements are a brief description of the issue. A problem statement should be simple but specific, and avoid assigning blame or recommending solutions to the issue. If the solution to an issue is simple enough to be understood at this point, a Lean Six Sigma project is likely unnecessary.
    3. Goal Statement. Your goal describes the ultimate outcome of the project. Like problem statements, goal statements should be brief but specific. A good goal follows the SMART system (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time Bound).
    4. Scope of the Work. The scope describes the limits of the work and what the project includes and excludes. For example, the scope could specify which departments, products or branches of the business will be included in the project.
    5. Project Timeline. To keep the work on track, the project timeline defines important milestones. These typically follow the central DMAIC principles (Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, Control), with milestones being placed at the end of each phase.
    6. Team Structure. Finally, a project charter describes the team members that are required to complete the project. This section will commonly name key stakeholders, team members, the project sponsor and any system experts who will be consulted.

    Lean Six Sigma Project Charters as Living Documents

    Improvement teams often refer to their project charters as living documents. The phrase “living document” signifies that the details of the charter are not set in stone. While the charter is an excellent way to plan and disseminate an overview of the project, it remains flexible as the work progresses. As improvement teams make their way through each of the DMAIC stages, they will uncover new information that alters the way the project is handled. As a living document, project charters can adapt to these changes, allowing the team to continue their work unabated.

    Are You Planning an Improvement Project? Contact Thornley Group Today!

    Lean and Six Sigma practices offer valuable tools for businesses from every industry. Identifying and reducing organisational waste can have a marked effect on the quality of products, customer satisfaction and a business’ bottom line. If you have identified problems within your organisation, get in touch with Thornley Group for Lean Six Sigma training. Our courses can be tailored to suit all members of your business, and we train process improvement teams from the ground up. Whether you are interested in our corporate training solutions or simply want to upskill, speak to one of our consultants about our training programs today!

  • How Lean Six Sigma Principles Can Improve Hospital Performance

    March 28th, 2022 | by

    Lean and Six Sigma are systems that were originally developed to serve the manufacturing industry. While large-scale manufacturers have seen the benefits of Lean Six Sigma for decades, the discipline also has a home in many other industries, including healthcare. Modern hospitals are large machines, with thousands of complex processes servicing hundreds of employees and cities full of patients. Therefore, it is little wonder that Lean Six Sigma can offer major process improvements to the industry. Defining goals, identifying areas for improvement and implementing positive changes can have a significant impact on patients and a few major benefits to hospitals.

    Reduced Wait Times

    Australia’s public health system is a fantastic resource for people all over the country. But, like many public health systems, it often suffers from long wait times for non-critical procedures. Measuring how long patients spend waiting is a key metric for many hospitals. Wait times have a direct effect on the standard of patient care, with long waits often causing patients who need care to leave prematurely or seek help elsewhere.

    While Lean and Six Sigma have their roots in the manufacturing industry, the methodologies can be broadly applied to hospitals. The DMAIC principles taught as part of Lean Six Sigma training are indispensable for defining goals and identifying places where hospitals are experiencing delays. Having tools to systematically assess the way departments are functioning is key to developing process improvement solutions that reduce wait times.

    Improved Quality of Patient Care

    Healthcare is an industry dedicated to helping people, and many hospitals already measure the quality of care they are providing to patients. Ensuring patients have positive experiences, quick diagnoses and effective treatment are key factors in improving community health. According to the World Health Organisation, high-quality patient care is:

    • Timely. Reducing wait times for consultations and procedures.
    • Equitable. High-quality healthcare for all.
    • Integrated. Providing healthcare that makes use of a full range of health services.
    • Efficient. Maximising the care provided with the available resources.

    Lean Six Sigma promotes significant improvements that can assist hospitals to achieve these four goals. Additionally, Lean Six Sigma will ultimately reduce operational costs and inventories, translating into further savings and efficiencies for the hospital.

    Reduce Medication Errors and Liability Issues

    Across Australia, there is an estimated 230,000 medication errors each year. The problem is no less prevalent in hospitals where medication is routinely dispensed and administered to hundreds or thousands of patients at a time. While the pharmacy industry has developed strict controls of its own, medication errors are still a reality. While some mistakes are minor, in many cases they risk doing serious injury to patients through overdosing, harmful drug interactions and potentially deadly side effects. This is not only of concern to patients, it can lead to major liability claims and expenses for a hospital. Employing Lean Six Sigma in a hospital’s diagnosis and pharmacy processes can identify the sources of medication errors and implement further controls to reduce the issue and its associated expenses.

    Increased Productivity in Laboratories

    Both public and private hospitals rely on the support of their various laboratory departments. In most cases, laboratories run around the clock, with staff always being on-hand to run tests and assist with important diagnoses. Pathologists perform a wide range of tests, including general chemistry, haematology, microbiology, immunology, surgical pathology, cytology and more. These tests range from simple, machine-conducted studies to complex assessments by highly trained clinicians. Introducing a thorough understanding of Lean Six Sigma into laboratory environments can minimise wasted time, reduce damaged samples and improve the turnaround on critical testing. By identifying bottlenecks, developing process improvements and building robust quality control systems, Lean Six Sigma can improve productivity and the reliability of hospital laboratory results.

    Contact Thornley Group for Lean Six Sigma Training Tailored to Your Hospital

    With reduced inventory, improved processes and fewer errors, patients and hospitals can both reap the benefits of Lean Six Sigma training. Thornley Group provides Lean Six Sigma courses for all levels of healthcare professionals, from nurses and laboratory technicians through to boards and governing bodies. Our programs are designed to assist organisations of all shapes and sizes. We can also tailor the content to suit your particular hospital to give your staff an even greater understanding of their role in process improvement. Speak to us today about our Lean Six Sigma training programs and consultation services.

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