Heard of Lean Six Sigma? Here's an Introduction
Striving to cut down on inefficiencies and reduce waste, many operations are using various methodologies and managerial concepts to streamline their processes. One of the popular approaches today is Lean Six Sigma.
A Brief Summary of this Concept
Lean is a set of processes that help identify and reduce waste, and strives to remove anything that may cause variation in procedures and the final product. This is accomplished by using tools such as flowcharts, diagrams, and process maps. Six Sigma enhances the Lean process by the addition of process control and removing additional variation. True Six Sigma is striving for 3 parts per million with regard to errors; looking to find "true north" and seeking to obtain perfection. Some of the benefits of Lean include: increased employee engagement, improved delivery, becoming better more quickly, increased growth, higher quality and safety, increasing cost efficiencies, increasing customer satisfaction, and gaining an advantage over the competition.
A primary tool that is employed using Lean are process maps. During brainstorming sessions, all steps to a process are defined from start to finish. Second, any problems that may be encountered with each step is identified by the group, highlighting the most important of the list. The final step of this map is to ask "why" these problems are occurring and isolate them to a separate list. With the focus on this new list of undesirable effects, the team looks to create solutions to remove the problem. These final solutions are placed on a grid which has an X axis of "ease of implementation" (hard -> easy) and a Y axis of "Impact of Solution" (low -> high). The upper right corner of the grid represents the sweet spot of "easy" and "high impact." The solutions located there are the easiest and most useful to implement first; while the others may require more resources to achieve. Action plans listing the task, who, by when, and status would be compiled to monitor the progress of each.
In the foodservice industry, process maps can be used for tasks such as patient tray delivery, receiving food off of the loading dock, room service call center scripting, or any process that has a clear start and finish (healthcare foodservice automation software can definitely help in this process). Other types of mapping include value-stream mapping as well as spaghetti mapping. Value-stream is used for baseline analysis, while spaghetti mapping helps look at traffic patterns and where time may be lost during any given day or during a specific task.
Other Methodologies That Can Streamline Your Operations
Another tool used often by teams trying to streamline their processes is the SBAR, which was developed by the US Navy for use on nuclear submarines. SBAR stands for Situation, Background, Assessment, and Recommendation. SBAR can be used for almost any situation that needs to be communicated in a clear, concise, and correlated manner. A template form is created with fields for the above listed sections. In a very simple way, a summary of the recommendation can be created and submitted to senior management who may then be able to respond to the need. The foodservice industry may benefit from this format by allowing the team to have a clear way of communicating their thoughts of improving any process ranging from trayline inefficiencies, dish room challenges, to simplifying floor stock delivery.
The final tool that I want to discuss is the 5S’s, which helps to reduce clutter and enhance efficiency. The 5S’s represent Sort, Set in Order, Shine (clean and ready for use), Standardize, and Sustain. In brief, the sorting task is used to identify and eliminate what is not needed. The set in order task is used to find a place for everything needed. Shining is a reminder to keep everything clean and ready for use. To standardize is to keep consistency throughout the process. And to sustain requires one to continue the effort to maintain what has been applied to this space. A professional kitchen is a great place to employ such a practice. For example, kitchen tools may need to be audited to find which are still needed. Of this group, identifying a home location for each tool and marking it (to know when it is missing) helps ensure that the workspace is returned to its original order at the end of each day. Keeping up with such a process is key to realizing the benefits of the 5S’s.
What Process is Right For You?
There are many other tools that are available to use to promote Lean practices within any organization. Kaizen events, Deming’s Plan/Do/Check/Act model, Ohno Circles, and standardizing all work are just a few additional examples that one can research and employ. The overarching message to utilizing new methods of doing things in any organization is to be creative and involve everyone in the process so that the final solution is understood and respected by the team. And remember to share your successes with the group and others to help spur the next new idea!
Article by: Michael Limanni, MS, RD, LDN, PMP, L6σYB, Director of Professional Services; Fusion, 4th Quarter, 2014