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LEAN A-Z GLOSSARY

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A3
A Lean problem solving tool which tells the full story on a single sheet of (A3) paper. The principle approach is for the A3/story to be told in such a way that anyone can understand. In order to successfully achieve this a ‘good’ A3 is often visual and by nature of limited space is concise. The A3 approach ensures – if used correctly – that the improvement project has really understood the problem it seeks to solve and worked through the root cause analysis and appropriate actions to improve. There are 7 sections to an A3 which are importnatly worked through in order:

  1. Background / Problem Statement
  2. Current Condition
  3. Goal
  4. Root Cause Analysis
  5. Proposed Countermeasures
  6. Plan
  7. Follow up
Affinity Mapping
Affinity mapping is used to organise list of ideas or issues into groupings in order to better understand a problem and to allow analysis to take place. These ideas or issues usually come from a group brainstorming session, where individuals bring their collective thoughts together grouped under ‘affinity’ headings. An example:

  1. A project team meet to brainstorm a list of ideas to solve a problem/issue
  2. Each team member is given a set of post-it notes to individually write down their ideas. These are then brought together on a flip-chart/wall. At this stage the wall becomes a sea of ideas on post-it notes with no sense of order
  3. Now as a team they begin to cluster the post-it’s into categories. For example all complaint related post-it’s go togther as would all service and product related ones etc
  4. Now that there are a range of groupings each of these clusters are given a name – at this point there maybe the odd single post-it note. That is OK these will stand alone as their own individual groupings
  5. Some of these clusters may require a set of sub-categorisation. For example a set of complaints could be split accordingly:
    1. Agent related complaints – i.e. behavioural
    2. Product related complaints – i.e. broken parts
    3. Service related complaints – i.e. length of time to respond

Now that the ideas have been affinity mapped they can be used in the following ways:

  1. A from of prioritisation to focus on the areas which repeat the most – have the most post-it notes with a group consensus on the magnitude of the issue
  2. The affinity grouping are added to data collection templates to size the problem
Andon
Andon originated as a manufacturing term to highlight to management and colleagues when a process has encountered a quality problem. An Andon is often visual with a light representing the quality breach. This approach has transferred into the service industry, examples being:

  1. Flashing light above a row of self-scan checkouts to get an assistance awareness to help required
  2. A contact centre ‘wallboard’ which goes red when set service levels are not being met

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Balanced Scorecard
A Balanced Scorecard is used to drive the strategically important metrics within an organisation. As the name suggests the scorecard should be balanced across measures so not to give too much weight to cost efficiencies or service performance at the detriment of one another. The 4 key components of a balanced scorecard are:

  1. Financial
  2. Customer
  3. Employee
  4. Process

Strategy maps are sometimes devised which move beyond the balanced scorecard and show the interconnections of each measure.

Batch
Batch or batching is the grouping together of component tasks or activities. A principle of lean is to avoid batching and work towards one piece flow.
Benefits Management
The term given to continual management of the benefits
Bottleneck
Bottlenecks are actually common within organisations. By their nature they prevent a process from flowing and extend the time (or prevent altogether) an activity takes to complete. A Bottleneck is anything that limits the throughput or completion of an activity. It is also common for individuals to be bottlenecks. For example an organisation could have just one expert in Z process. In this case until that resource is freed up no more activities will be progressed.
BPR - Business Process Re-engineering
Business Process Re-engineering (BPR) is an approach to transforming activities through process change. By conducting BPR an organisation will speed up their design and move the process closer to the requirements of the customer. BPR can help to take a fresh look at existing business problems.
Brainstomring
Brainstorming (sometimes referred to as Mindmapping) is a creative technique to explore options to resolve a problem. Though this may be done effectively alone in a Six-Sigma project it is almost always best to be conducted in group setting. The following rules support positive Brainstorming sessions:

  1. Limit each Brainstorming session to one problem at a time (this avoids going off track or confusing multiple items)
  2. No restriction to the type of ideas people may suggest – at this stage it is about generating ideas not questioning their validity that comes later.
  3. Where possible mix the Brainstorming teams with experts and people new to the process or problem. This will effectively blend expertise with a fresh pair of eyes

In addition, the following techniques can aid Brainstorming sessions:

  • Nominal Group Technique – This is where participants contribute their ideas anonymously and thus removes association with a particular person. There are a few positives to this, A) it allows for ideas which may otherwise not have been presented – B) it allows for all members to have and equal say – C) it prevents the group from becoming swayed by an initial idea
  • Passing Group Technique – This is where chain is created from an initial idea. So a colleague writes an idea down on a piece of paper and passes it on, the next colleague adds to that idea. This approach continues until it has passed through all colleagues involved within the brainstorming session
  • SCAMPER – SCAMPER is an acronym to support ways of thinking by offering different solutions. I.e. Substitute, Combine or Adapt – for a full breakdown on SCAMPER – see S in this A-Z
  • Negative Brainstorming – Essentially this is where a team will seek to find solutions which will definitely not want to be achieved.
BVA - Business Value Add
A process or step that adds no value to the customer but is required for the business. An example would is a colleague 1-2-1 session. Be careful with Business Value Add (BVA), it is all to easy to classify almost all items of no customer value as BVA which then defeats the object.

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Cause and Effect Diagram
Cause and Effect diagrams have two other common names – Fish Bone (due to the resemblance of a fish) and Ishikawa (the Japanese term). However, you or your company refer to them they are commonly used for the identification of root causes as part of a brainstorming session. Components of a cause and effect diagram:

  1. The problem/issue (this forms the head of the ‘fish)
  2. Categories of causes (the scales of the fish) – as with the name of the tool their are also multiple category names that are used. The main premise here is to use enough breadth to cover all possible causes for your process/project. The 6M’s (well kind of M’s) are a useful guide to cover most eventuallities:
    1. Man or WoMan (people to be politically correct but then that doesn’t fit neatly to 6M’s
    2. Machine or Equipment
    3. Measurement
    4. Methods
    5. Materials
    6. Mother Nature (or environment but environment doesn’t fit neatly for M either!)
  3. Causes are then grouped under these categories and some may be sub-grouped as well

This exercise as with many techniques within six-sigma is best completed with a flipchart and post-it notes or on a whiteboard. The picture can then be added to a presentation or it can be transferred onto a slide.

Cell Based Working
Cell Based Working as with many techniques within Lean originated from within the manufacturing setting. However, cell based working transfers across to the services industry very well. Cell based working is the alignment of processes, equipment and resources to work effectively as a single unit although multiple activities may be completed. A benefit of this approach is reduced hand-offs and being able to fully resolve all aspects of an activity within the cell in real time.
Change Agent
Change Agents are often deployed within Lean and Six-Sigma projects. Depending on the role being asked to perform they will commonly be trained to Yellow Belt and potentially to Green Belt standard. They support the implementation of the change and act as subject matter experts. After the change is deployed they perform a key role in knowledge transfer back within the business to make continuous improvement a natural way of functioning.
Continuous Improvement
Continuous Improvement is a mindset that sets out to improve and get better everyday. It is a key principle of lean six-sigma activities and everyone within the organisation should be encouraged to do just that
COPIS
COPIS is another arrangement for the SIPOC tool (a high-level process map), where the layout is changed to start from the customer. (there are other variations where the customer is placed in the middle to represent the ‘heart’ of the process/organisation) In effect this doesn’t alter the approach or output – but rather signifies that the process starts with the customer in mind. COPIS stands for:

  • C – The customers who receive the outputs
  • O – The outputs
  • P – The operation performed on the input (the actual process)
  • I – The inputs
  • S – The suppliers who provide the input to the process
Countermeasures
Countermeasures are actions to improve performance of a process/service. Root Cause Analysis is required first to understand what the potential countermeasures might be. Proposed countermeasures forms the 5th step of the Lean A3 Problem Solving technique.
Cost of Poor Quality (COPQ)
Cost of Poor Quality (CoPQ) simply put is the cost associated with poor quality – a defect, rework, failure demand etc. The sooner in the process CoPQ is captured and resolved the cheaper the issue will be to resolve. CoPQ should be linked to the problem statement and as such the removal through the project of this problem can then be assessed from a benefit perspective.  For example the financial costs to answer the 20% of repeat contacts, or the cost to send engineers back out on trips to re-visit customers for a recurring issue. Some CoPQ’s are well understood and sometimes easy to spot that it becomes highly questioned as to why they were not dealt with sooner (we have worked in numerous places were this has been the case and in such circumstances the response from directors is not positive as may be expected but negative due to the issue being something that should easily been resolved – so be careful in your stakeholder management for such examples). The converse is also true some others are more disguised but perhaps not as one would initially think. This is due to people becoming ‘blind’ to certain situations (that explains the term Muda Specs!, for those that have learnt about wastes). Not blind in the traditional sense but blind to the action occurring – “that’s just the way it is” and “just the way it has always been”.
Critical to Quality (CTQ)
Critical to Quality (CTQ) is the term to describe what customers require from the product/service. It takes the verbatim or other feedback to understand their drivers of quality and turns that into measurable elements. CTQ trees are a technique for following the Need, through to Driver, through to Critical measurements. An example:

  • Need – Customer Satisfaction
  • Driver – Knowledgeable Agents (and no doubt many other drivers for this need)
  • CTQ –
    • Right First Time information
    • Speed of response
    • Understanding of customers full requirement – probing ability
Cumulative Elapsed Time (CET)
Cumulative Elapsed Time (CET) is the total time, from start to finish in a process. The CET clock starts from the first step and can be calculated throughout the process. i.e. we can work out the CET at step 2, step 3 and so on all the way to the end of the process.
Cycle Time
Cycle Time is a lean measure which measures the end to end time of a process. This includes not only touch time (the amount of time physically expanded on processing) but also includes any dwell or delay

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Delay Time (DT)
Delay Time is a Lean Measure which calculates the delay within a process. Though delays may not always result expanded effort they do negatively impact the customer and will often have other adverse effects on the health of the process.
DMAIC
DMAIC – Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, Control, is the main improvement cycle associated with Six-Sigma. DMAIC concentrates on improving existing processes see either DMADV or DFSS for new processes, services or products). It is a structured methodology to guide your improvement activity. It covers:

  1. Define – Adequately defining the problem (s)
  2. Measure – Collecting baseline measurements
  3. Analyse – Understanding the Root Causes of our problem
  4. Improve – Deploy the prioritised solutions and deliver the plan
  5. Control – Develop process control to maintain and improve
DOWNTIME
An acronym for the 8 lean wastes see also TIMWOODS. DOWNTIME stands for:

  • Defects
  • Over-Production
  • Waiting
  • Non-Utilised Talent
  • Transport
  • Inventory
  • Motion
  • Extra Processing
Dwell Time (DWT)
Dwell Time (DWT) is the wait time within a step. This can sometimes be minuscule as in a few seconds waiting for a system to load or to compute previous entry, however, this time added up over lots of processed items can make a significant difference. It also stops the flow of a process.

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Eight Lean Wastes
Waste is anything which are in excess of what is needed to meet customer requirements. In a process each step can be classified one of three ways:

  1. Value Added – What the customer would pay
  2. Non-Value Add (waste) – Adds cost, but not value (The customer wouldn’t pay for it)
  3. Business-Value Add – Those items which a customer wouldn’t pay but is determined necessary from a business perspective

Commonly there are 8 wastes (up from the previous 7 to include skills or non-utilised talent).  There are a couple of acronyms to remember the wastes by:

  1. DOWNTIME
  2. TIMWOODS

DOWNTIME:

  • Defects
  • Over-Production
  • Waiting
  • Non-Utilised Talent
  • Transport
  • Inventory
  • Motion
  • Extra Processing
Eighty Twenty Rule (Pareto's Law)
The Eighty Twenty Rule otherwise known as Pareto’s Law – is the principle is based on the assumption that only a small amount of factors are responsible for most problems – or a small amount of effort is responsible for most the benefit. By conducting Pareto analysis it forces us to concentrate on the issues/effort that will have the greatest effect, and in doing so is helpful in prioritising actions.
Elapsed Time
The Elapsed Time of a process represents the productive time plus the dwell time for each process step. The total elapsed time can be less than the sum of the total productive time and total dwell time where process steps are worked at the same time.
End-to-End
End to End is a term which is often used when reviewing processes. In this context end to end refers looking to the left and right of the process to encompass all elements and not just those completed by a single team.
Error Proofing (Poke Yoke)
Poke Yoke is the Japanese term for Error Proofing. if we want to safeguard against defects or errors occurring then considering how to Poke-Yoke is key. Ideally we would remove all possibilities of the issue re-occurring but there could be reasons why we don’t namely the cost of changes outweighs the gains.   Examples:

  1. An everyday example is entering you card details or email address online. Storefronts have methods to prevent completion unless these have been filled out correctly
  2. A railway crossing:
    1. A signal is a first line of defence and will prevent some cars from entering when the shouldn’t – minimal cost
    2. A barrier to come down when trains are approaching will prevent more cars from entering when they shouldn’t – more cost
    3. A bridge over the railway line takes away the possibility for cars to enter when they shouldn’t – most cost
Extra Processing
Extra Processing or over processing as it is sometimes referred to is one of the 8 lean wastes. Extra Processing is the doing of more than is necessary, so actions that are not required. An example would be cleaning an area twice a week which is only contracted for once.

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First in First Out (FiFo)
First in First Out (FiFo) though not strictly a Lean term, FiFo does factor into 5s principles. The idea is the products which arrive first are the first to then leave production. this helps to ensure good stock rotation and safeguard against stock expiration.
Fishbone Diagrams
Fishbone diagrams (named so due to the resemblance of a fish) is a Cause and Effect diagrams and also known as Ishikawa (the Japanese term). However, you or your company refer to them they are commonly used for the identification of root causes as part of a brainstorming session. Components of a Fishbone diagram:

  1. The problem/issue (this forms the head of the ‘fish)
  2. Categories of causes (the scales of the fish) – as with the name of the tool their are also multiple category names that are used. The main premise here is to use enough breadth to cover all possible causes for your process/project. The 6M’s (well kind of M’s) are a useful guide to cover most eventuallities:
    1. Man or WoMan (people to be politically correct but then that doesn’t fit neatly to 6M’s)
    2. Machine or Equipment
    3. Measurement
    4. Methods
    5. Materials
    6. Mother Nature (or environment but environment doesn’t fit neatly for M either!)
  3. Causes are then grouped under these categories and some may be sub-grouped as well

This exercise as with many techniques within six-sigma is best completed with a flipchart and post-it notes or on a whiteboard. The picture can then be added to a presentation or it can be transferred onto a slide.

Five S
5’s consists of the following elements:

  1. Sort (Seiri)
  2. Straighten (Seiton)
  3. Standardise (Seiso)
  4. Shine (Seiketsu)
  5. Sustain (Shitsuke)

5s  originates from the Japanese organisation method (Japenese terms included in brackets). 5s is simple to understand and grasp and as with many tools within lean can be seen as applying common sense. Despite this simplicity its application can often derive significant success. The approach is to go through each step in term and can be applied in all manner of settings beyond manufacturing and into a desk based service industry.

Five Why's
The 5 Why’s is a very simple concept, but takes a lot of practice and coaching to perfect. As a consequence few implement in the way it was meant to be deployed. The 5why’s acts like an interrogation line of enquiry – as a young child does when learning something new asking why over and over again. 5 Why’s starts by asking why did the problem occur and then follows up with subsequent why’s until the root cause is identified (preferably supported by data) 5 is the suggested number if it takes 4 or 7 then that is also ok! the point is to get to the root cause.
Flow
Creating Flow is one of the 5 Lean Principles. In a Lean process work flows smoothly, this is through the elimination of ‘waste’. We create flow by:

  • Eliminating waste
  • Removing bottle necks
  • Eliminate hand-offs and re-work
  • Avoid batches to allow the work to flow

Creating one-piece flow is a key ambition or at least reduce the size of batching. There are numerous lean simulations that show the value of these to those who participate within the exercises.

Full Time Equivalent (FTE)
Full Time Equivalent commonly referred to by its acronym FTE expresses a number of people in an organisation, team or process as a proportion of full time hours. For example: A project team has 14 people within it – this is the number of headcount – 1 for each person. However, if all 14 people worked part-time for 20 hours instead of a standard 40 hours per week then each head would equate to 0.5 FTE. So the total heads remain at 14 but the FTE of this project is 7FTE (14*0.5)
First Time Yield
First Time Yeild (FTY) is the percentage of items/services which are produced/delivered without any defects on the first attempt – (those that are right first time).   An example: 100 customer direct debit amendments are placed into an organisation. 20 of these go back to the customer with queries or incorrect information and thus require completing again. This would mean that the FTY of this process would be 100-20 =80 80/100 =0.8*100 = FTY of 80%

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Gemba
Gemba or The Gemba is a Japanese term meaning the ‘actual place’. in a Lean Six-Sigma respect this means going to the place where the work happens and seeing and observing what is going on.
Gembutsu
Gembutsu is a Japanese term which effectively translates as the ‘actual item’. These are the items which are the focus of a Kaizen event.
Green Belt (GB)
There are layers of Six-Sigma proficiency represented by belts – similar to those used within karate. Green Belt – Fully Certified – Leads Green Belt projects and support Black Belts with analysis for Black Belt projects

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Hansei
Hansei is a Japanese term which encourages personal reflection. Here one would recognise a mistake that they have made and seek to improve.
Histogram
Histograms  are a form of Graphical Analysis they can be used to show the current condition or as part of the root cause analysis of an A3 Problem Solving exercise.
Hoshin Kanri
Hoshin Kanri is a Japanse term which relates to strategic planning methodology and encourages continuous improvement.

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ICUKU
ICUKU – (Impact Controllable Uncontrollable Known Unknown) is a form of prioritisation matrix. It works as follows:

  1. Issues identified ready for prioritisation
  2. Assess Impact – Rank – High, Medium or low
  3. Ask is it:
    1. Controllable – the team can action the change with no outside support
    2. Uncontrollable – Requires support from the management chain (including external to the team)
  4. Commence to action/plan.
    1. If Controllable:Do we know what we need to do to fix
      1. If yes then get to work resolving! (but be careful do we really know the root causes?)
      2. If no then invoke team based problem solving utilising the A3 method
    2. If Uncontrollable then we record and escalate as appropriate

And of course things that are low impact and high effort should be avoided at all costs.

IDEF
IDEF is a form of process mapping and stands for Integrated DEFinition. IDEF focuses on the functions or logical steps within a process. IDEF records 4 elements for each activity:

  1.  Input (what it is where it has come from)
  2. Output (what it is and where it goes to)
  3. Mechanisms (the people, teams, systems required for the activity)
  4. Controls (limitations or restrictions on the activity)

IDEF has a range of levels which reflect the level the process is being mapped at. Level 0 is the highest level – less detail, with levels 1, 2, 3 breaking down the information to a lower level. Each level has 3-6 process steps. This approach helps to keep the mapping concise and also focused on the appropriate level of detail.

Inventory (waste)
Inventory is one of the 8 lean wastes and refers to:

  • Excess Raw Materials (materials to make the product/service which are held before being used)
  • Work in Progress (WIP)
  • Completed held Stock (ready and waiting before a customer is ready to consume)

In most situations organisations are holding excessive inventory which has consumed cash that can no longer be redeployed elsewhere. Inventory can have a significant impact on cash-flow and impact an organisations ability to function.

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Jidoka
Jidoka is machine automation whereby the machine automatically inspects each item after production. A notification is triggered only when a defect is identified.
Just in Time (JIT)
Just in Time refers to items being produced just as the customer wants them. Producing items before the customer want them leads to waste in cash being spent before required and taking up additional space. Producing an item after the customer want it can lead to delays and other costs such as penalties.

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Kaizen
Kaizen, is a lean six-sigma approach. Its name can be broken down into two main parts;

  1. Kai being Japanese for Change and

2. Zen being Japanese for Good So in essence the term translates as change for the better and refers to everyday continuous improvement. The approach encourages everyone, everywhere to get a little better everyday, from the front line staff to the CEO. This mind-set of continuous improvement forms the foundation for lean six-sigma as popularised in Japanese manufacturing. Taken to the extremes Kaizen encourages small incremental changes daily that by themselves are insignificant and thus easy to implement and adopt which other time translates into powerful lasting change. An example being to start exercising, Kaizen wouldn’t proclaim going out and running a marathon tomorrow, rather for 1 minute – say during an ad break do star jumps – then tomorrow increase to 2 minutes. Another term you may have heard of or indeed been asked to join is a Kaizen event. These are sometimes referred to as Rapid Improvement Events. The idea is to gather the necessary actors together for a short period of time from an hour; a day; to a week or two at max with the specific intention to focus on an item to improve.

Kanban
Kanban is a Japanese term for ‘visual’ and is a method for deploying the pull system. In practice Kanban (s) are a card, sheet or other visual method utilised to signal required action.   An example: A supermarket warehouse implements a Kanban system to show when items should be worked (replenish the shelves). The card will show red when required to complete and green once completed. this provides everyone in the warehouse a simple way of knowing what has already been completed and what is still required to be completed.
Kano Analysis
Kano Analysis is a framework for categorising and prioritising the performance features of a product or service. Kano analysis is focused on the 3 categories:

  1. Dissatisfiers – ‘The must haves’; these are essentially hygiene factors that are expected, if these are not available then that leads to automatic dissatisfaction. Examples are:
    1. A hotel room with no bed
    2. A theatre seat without a view
  2. Satisfiers – ‘More is better’; These extra touches that have an ability to increase or decrease satisfaction. Example are:
    1. Takeaway coffee cups to accompany your tea and coffee provision in a hotel room
    2. An extra bottle of water on an airplane
  3. Delighters – ‘Extra Special’; These are unexpected extras provided that deliver joy. Examples are:
    1. A free glass of champagne on your flight
    2. Complimentary upgrades at your hotel

A word of caution on the Satisfiers and Delighters overtime these can become expected and as such are no longer Satisfiers or Delighters they downgrade

Key Performance Indicators (KPI's)
Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) are the key measures which show the performance of a process/organisation. KPis should be developed from what the customer defines as CTQ (Critical to Quality).

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Lead Time
The Lead Time is the total time a customer waits for a product or service on placing an order. Sometimes Lead Time is referred to as the time taken to produce an item from start to finish – though this effectively misses any additional time a customer wait at the begining or end of the process cycle.
Lean
Lean – is the elimination of waste and focuses on delivering activities which add value from a customer’s perspective. It is based on the following set of principles:

  1. Identify Value
  2. Current Condition
  3. Create Flow
  4. Introduce Pull
  5. Continuously Improve
Lean Six-Sigma (LSS)
Lean Six-Sigma refers to the combined improvement methodologies of Lean and Six-Sigma. In many ways the two are similar and they share many of the same tools and techniques, so there combination can make a lot of sense.
Line Balancing
Line Balancing is the smoothing of cycle times across the production line to support flow.

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Master Black Belts (MBB)
There are layers of Six-Sigma proficiency represented by belts – similar to those used within karate. Master Black Belt – Master Certification – Trains and coaches Black and Green Belts. Operates at the programme level.
Muda
Muda is the Japanese term for Waste. This is anything in the process that does not add value from the customers’ perspective and a central pillar of lean is to remove waste.
Mura
Mura is another Japanese term which relates to waste – specifically this is to do with the unevenness or the variation within a process.
Muri
The third Japanese term which relates to waste – specifically this is to do with overburden.

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Non Value Add (NVA)
Non-Value Adding work simply put is activity performed that adds costs but not value. Therefore the response sought is to eliminate all wastes from within a process.

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One Piece Flow
One Piece Flow – Inventory eliminated between process steps – activities flow through

  1. Work in Progress – is minimised to single activity
  2. Activities wait time is significantly reduced
  3. Lead times are significantly reduced
  4. Balance is provided across the work stations

Achieving one-piece flow supports the Lean Principle create flow. 

Operational Performance Management (OPM)
Operational Performance Management (OPM) is an activity that should take place regardless of whether an organisation operates to lean ways of working. In a lean sense OPM is based on 3 key interconnected items:

  1. Performance measures and targets (the KPI’s) – Developed from the customers requirements
  2. Visual Management – Performance should be visual and not a secret. All should be able to see performance. This is achieved through performance boards
  3. Performance Dialogue – The key term here is dialogue as it is the dialogue and resulting actions that will drive performance. In many settings we see performance boards be installed to some fanfare but quickly these become not used (even filled out) and certainly no robust dialogue happening. The base of the conversation should centre on:
    1. How we did yesterday (but avoid group association of blame for any faults),
    2. What we are doing today (with accountability and responsibility)
    3. What we are doing to improve (i.e. A3 Problem Solving activity)
Overall Process Effectiveness (OPE)
The Overall Process Effectiveness (OPE) is a measure which looks across the process end-to-end and reflects on the process from several perspective
Over-Processing (Waste)
Over-Processing (or sometimes known as Extra-Processing) is one of the 8 lean wastes and refers to:

  • Duplication
  • Doing more work than the standard requires
  • Quality errors which have no impact on the customer
  • Over-categorising, logging collecting (i.e. collecting and analysing more data than is required)
  • Unnecessary or unread reports (common place in many organisations a new report is often introduced without de-commissioning any old reports)

Over-Processing usual occurs when:

  1. A side-effect of pride in one’s work (often unwittingly)
  2. System or process inflexibility
  3. Unclear or no defined processes
Over-Production (Waste)
Over-Production is one of the 8 lean wastes and refers to:

  • Producing sooner than required
  • Producing faster or greater quantities than required by the customer
  • Excess printing, filing etc
  • Excessive preventative maintenance (the key term here is excessive as preventative maintenance can play a key role in an improvement programme)

This waste can at time be compounded. There is waste in the extra production and then that waste product is scrapped and thus creates 2 wastes!

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Paradigm Shift
A Paradigm Shift changes the perception of what someone believes to be correct. This is often required to enable colleagues to see the waste that is inherently around them.
Pareto
Pareto’s Law (sometimes referred to as the Eighty Twenty Rule) is based on the principle assumption that only a small amount of factors are responsible for most problems – or a small amount of effort is responsible for most the benefit. By conducting Pareto analysis it forces us to concentrate on the issues/effort that will have the greatest effect, and in doing so is helpful in prioritising actions.
People Quality Cost Delivery (PQCD)
People Quality Cost Delivery (PQCD) is a method used for designing the Operational Performance Management board. They represent 4 key areas of teh board as follows:

  1. People:
    1. How the team are feeling?
    2. The concerns the team have?
    3. Any upcoming team items that need to be discussed
  2. Quality:
    1. How are we performing against Right First Time metrics?
    2. How much re-work do we have?
    3. What is the position of our complaints?
  3. Cost:
    1. How much does the process cost to deliver?
    2. Are our overall spends within budgets or set tolerances?
    3. Are costs creeping up?
    4. How well are the team utilised?
  4. Delivery:
    1. How are we performing against service levels?
    2. What is our overall lead times and what can we do to improve?
Perfection
Perfection or seek perfection is sometime referred to as the 5th Lean Principle. We use the term continuously improve but in essence the principle is the same.
Performance Board
The Performance Board form the visual component of Operational Performance Management. See PQCD in the FAQ’s for elements which should be included.
Plan Do Check Act (PDCA)
Lean problem solving is based on Plan Do Check Act (PDCA). PDCA stands for:

  1. Plan
  2. Do
  3. Check
  4. Act

PDCA follows a structured methodology. The cycle is sequentially to ensure we form a hypothesis for the problem, gather data, analyse the data and experiment and check the outcomes – rather than just jumping to well intended but ill thought out solutions. PDCA is not a one-off excercise rather a cycle which is repeated to drive continuous improvement.

Poke Yoke (Error-Proofing)
Poke Yoke is the Japanese term for Error Proofing. if we want to safeguard against defects or errors occurring then considering how to Poke-Yoke is key. Ideally we would remove all possibilities of the issue re-occurring but there could be reasons why we don’t namely the cost of changes outweighs the gains.   Examples:

  1. An everyday example is entering you card details or email address online. Storefronts have methods to prevent completion unless these have been filled out correctly
  2. A railway crossing:
    1. A signal is a first line of defence and will prevent some cars from entering when the shouldn’t – minimal cost
    2. A barrier to come down when trains are approaching will prevent more cars from entering when they shouldn’t – more cost
    3. A bridge over the railway line takes away the possibility for cars to enter when they shouldn’t – most cost
Prioritisation Matrix
Prioritisation is a key part of any business process improvement. For Six-Sigma we are seeking to deploy the improvement initiatives which generate the greatest benefit in return. A Prioritisation Matrix supports us to do this. Generally a Prioritisation Matrix consists of:

  1. A 2-by-2 matrix comparing
    1. Effort on the horizontal axis
    2. Benefit on the vertical axis
  2.  Each grid then represents a level of opportunity:
    1. Top Left – Low Effort/High Benefit – This is the golden quadrant prioritise these
    2. Bottom Left High Effort/High Benefit – We may want to get these started as they could have a longer lead time but make sure the benefit outweighs the costs associated
    3. Top Right – Low Effort/Low Benefit – Though not as attractive as Top Left if there are one or two really easy to do activities then we may consider completing them to get the ball rolling and generate trust in the project
    4. Bottom Right – High Effort/Low Benefit – stay well clear! There are better returns on our investment financial and human resources.
Problem Statements
Problem statements are a specific description of the problem kept brief and concise, so that anybody picking up the A3 Problem Solving sheet project can understand. They should:

  • Explain the Problem
  • Explain How often the problem occurs
  • Show the Impact of the problem
  • Define the Scope
Process Confirmation
Process Confirmation is a set approach to ensuring processes are performing as intended. In Lean Process Confirmation is deployed as the 5th Lean Principle Continuously Improve.  Process confirmation is a tool that helps to ensure this. Process confirmation will often be in the form of checklist which team members, managers and leaders will use to check that the process is being delivered to set standards. This is an often overlooked part of six-sigma and lean projects, but its simple in application and can have a tremendous impact on the sustainability of projects. Done effectively it allows for reinforcement of the right behaviours and spots issues before they get out of control.
Process Cycle Efficiency

Process Cycle Efficiency is a primary Lean Measure. It is a calculation that represents the proportion of value added time within a process – calculated as follows:

PCE (%) = Total Value Added Time / Total CycleTime.

Why not try our Lean Calculators!

Organisations definitions of value add can range widely (due to what people are willing to accept is adding value to a customer and often from not wanting to show that most of the work a team does is non-value add!). As a consequence PCE is best measured in a set consistent way to improve other time rather than as a benchmark for external or even internal processes (unless of course the value add is applied in the same way)

Process Mapping
Process Mapping is a technique to understand how a process operates. The intention of process mapping is to understand what really happens and not assume from what is recorded in a potentially out of date Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). A process map illustrates:

  1. Graphical presentation of the steps – we do this because it allows for easier representation of the process and therefore the associated problem which those unaware of the full detail
    1. Consequently it becomes a lot easier to define the process – not just for those who are new to the process but also for those who follow the process everyday. Sometimes just this very act creates a light-bulb moment
  2. The sequence the steps or tasks are completed and their relationships
    1. This helps to more easily show where the wastes maybe as it allows for the whole process to be viewed – those hidden wastes are no longer hidden
  3. Value stream of inputs and outputs
  4. Picture of as-is or to-be process
    1. This allows the team to consider where the improvements may be placed
Pull System
Introduce Pull is the 4th of 5 Lean Principles. When we introduce pull work is ‘pulled’ through rather than ‘pushed’. Pull systems work on the premise that the customer receives the product/service when they require it. The pull approach ensures the reduction of work in progress. Doing so can significantly reduce costs, through not tying up resources, people – financial and material. Let’s have a look at two very different examples:

  1. An Airline manufacturer producing a plane (or worse planes) ahead of customer requirement. These very expensive products have sunk significant cost without any financial return. In such a situation the cash-flow of the organisation will be significantly impaired and their ability to operate may well be under threat.
  2. A fast-food restaurant. OK so the stakes may be significantly lower here on an individual product basis but across numerous stores the over-production will begin to have a significant impact. What you will notice in a fast-food restaurant is a food-regulator where product is replenished as and when the level drops below a particular volume (dictated by customer demand on the day)

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Quick Wins and Sacred Cows
Quick Wins are always advisable to go after, subject to reasonable effort and resources of course. A quick win can enable a project to gain respect and momentum amongst peers, colleagues and senior stakeholders. Sacred Cows on the other hand are items which are ‘out-of-bounds). The advise here is not to not challenge but ‘pick your battles). Sacred Cows are certainly not the place for a project to start – unless of course you are wanting to alienate everyone.

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Rapid Improvement Event (RIE)
The idea behind Rapid Improvement Events (RIE) is to do just that rapidly improve. Typically one would last for a week and apply lean tools and techniques in a concerted fashion to lead to improvements. Another term that may be used is a hothouse.
Root Cause Analysis (RCA)
The Root-Cause Analysis step of the A3 is critical to ensure we solve the actual problem. This is a step that is often skipped in many business improvement or indeed operationally led improvements. Resist the temptation to jump this step or you my well find that your improvement project puts a plaster over the problem. In this step we:

  1. Brainstorm what could be the cause of the problem
  2. Identify the real issues are causing the problem to occur. This is verified through data.
  3. Identify the waste
  4. Demonstrate the cause and effect

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SCAMPER
SCAMPER is a Brainstorming technique utilised for identifying potential solutions. SCAMPER stands for:

  • Substitute – e.g. Which parts of the product or service could you swap out to improve? Are there rules which could be substituted for others?
  • Combine – e.g. Can you combine process steps? Could you combine the output or waste to good use in another product or service?
  • Adapt – e.g. How could the product or service be adapted to improve? Can you learn fro other products or services and adapt the offering?
  • Modify – e.g. can the product or service be modified in shape, look or feel?
  • Put to another use – e.g. can the waster be utilised in another product or service offering? Can the product or service be enhanced by going into a different setting?
  • Eliminate – e.g. How could you eliminate the waste? Can whole steps or actions not be required?
  • Reverse – e.g. Could steps be completed in a different order would this remove the waste? How could the product or service be re-organised?
SIPOC
A SIPOC is essentially a high-level process map, that presents easy enough for outsiders to get an understanding of the process and the key process elements:

  • S – The suppliers who provide the input to the process
  • I – The inputs
  • P – The operation performed on the input (the actual process)
  • O – The outputs
  • C – The customers who receive the outputs

A SIPOC can sometimes be known by the acronym COPIS the key change here is starting with the customer – other variations places the customer in the middle (at the heart of the activity).

Six-Sigma
Six-sigma is a data driven approach to solve problems. There are two main elements to remember Defects and Variation. We want 0 defects or the least amount possible and we want the process to be stable with little to no variance – so each and every time we deliver the same result in the same way. See also Sigma Levels or this overview of Sigma Levels
SMART
SMART is a methodology for setting goals. It ensures that goals set are:

  1. Specific;
  2. Measurable;
  3. Achievable;
  4. Realistic and
  5. Time-bound
Standard Work
Standard Work is defining the best way we know how to do something and then ensuring everyone is following this ‘best’  standard way of working through process confirmation. Standard work is only the best way of doing something until we improve and find a better way of performing. Standard work done well will provide a clear and concise set of instructions so it is easy for everybody to understand and follow.
Statistical Process Control (SPC)
The primary control chart in Six-Sigma is the Statistical Process Control Chart – known as SPC. The SPC has upper control limits (UCL), lower control limits (LCL) and tghe mean (average). These limits are set by the spread of the data with the LCL usually 3 standard deviations below the mean and the UCL usually 3 standard deviations above the mean. Any data point which sits outside of the control limit lines is an outlier and if there are many of these then the process is considered to be out of control – these are signals. SPC charts are great visual way to quickly ascertain whether or not a process is in control.

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Takt Time

Takt Time is a Lean measurement and is referred to as the drumbeat of a process, as it represents the speed of customer demand. It is a load balancing mechanism and is calculated on a process accordingly:

Takt Time = Available Work Time / Customer Demand

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Implications of Takt Time are considered for:

  1. Relating Customer demand to the production requirements
  2. Removing of waste
  3. Effective performance monitoring
Throughput Efficinecy

Throughput Efficiency is a part of Process Efficiency and is measured as follows:

  • Throughput Efficiency = total productive time / cycle time

Why not try our Lean Calculator!

Time and Motion
Time and motion is a method of data collection. This is often used when data sources are not available or when the quality of the data is questionable. Time and Motion can often take part in the Current Condition or Root Cause Analysis phase of the A3 as part of going back to the Gemba (the place of work) to see what is really happening. When done well Time and motion can be a very valuable data source and collect most process based lean measures. When conducting Time and motion it is always beneficial to positively engage with the operation – due tot he nature of watching people work with a stop watch can be somewhat off putting and raise lots of questions. In some organisations time and motion studies may require the approval of the union.
TIMWOODS
An acronym for the 8 lean wastes see also DOWNTIME. TIMWOODS stands for:

  • Transport
  • Inventory
  • Motion
  • Waiting
  • Over-Production
  • Over-Processing
  • Defects
  • Skills

Skills are an addition to the original 7 wastes

Touch Time
Touch Time represents the actual time spent working on an activity within a process.
Toyota Production System (TPS)
Lean is often said to have started with the Toyota Production System (TPS) with the term itself only truly named in 1990. The TPS was introduced in the 1950’s and is accredited with improving the fortunes of Toyota and TPS is implemented overseas. Read more about Lean History here.
Transportation (Waste)
Transportation is one of the 8 lean wastes and refers to:

  • Movement of Equipment, People or Information between processes this can include:
    • Moving files in and out of archive
    • Flying to destination for a meeting
    • Sign-off of articles between one team and and another

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Value Stream Mapping (VSM)
Value Stream Mapping takes process mapping to another level. Its completion generates a lot of lean measurement data which can be utilised to baseline and then improve upon. Some people can get very caught up in the ‘right’ symbols to be used – we have once heard this referred to as having a PHD in symbols but driving no value! So the key here is not to over complicate this – but do be sure to use symbols that are consistent with teh organisation and certainly consistent within the process
Visual Management
Visual Management is a simple yet powerful tool for showing when items are on or off track. There are examples of visual management everywhere – think of an airport with all that signage or emergency exit signs. Visual management is also a key principle of a performance board – if we can visually see how we are performing we can more easily focus in. In addition, you do not need to be an expert in any area to know that a red sign means not on track and a green means all good. Visual management can also be used to show where items go or when items are in stock or not. The most common example here would be a tool box with an indentation for where the hammer should go.
Voice of the Business (VoB)
Voice of the Business (VoB) is one of the ‘voices’ that we listen to in a Lean / Six-Sigma project. The others being Voice of the Customer (VoC), Voice of the Employee (VoE) and the Voice of the Process (VoP). VoB represents the business requirements often considered from a financial and or strategy perspective
Voice of the Customer (VoC)
Voice of the Customer (VoC) is one of the ‘voices’ that we listen to in a Lean / Six-Sigma project. The others being Voice of the Business (VoB), Voice of the Employee (VoE) and the Voice of the Process (VoP).   VoC represents the customers requirements and their perception of the product or service.
Voice of the Employee (VoE)
Voice of the Employee (VoE) is one of the ‘voices’ that we listen to in a Six-Sigma project. The others being Voice of the Business (VoB), Voice of the Customer (VoC) and the Voice of the Process (VoP).   VoC represents the employees requirements and consider their views and engagement.
Voices
Voices is the collective term for the set of ‘voices’ we listen to within a Lean /  Six-Sigma project. These are the Voice of the Customer (VoC); Voice of the Business (VoB); Voice of the Employee (VoE) and additionally the Voice of the Process (VoP)

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Waiting (Waste)
Waiting is one of the 8 Lean wastes and refers to:

  • People, Teams, Machines, Parts etc that have to wait for a task or activity to be completed examples
    • Batches awaiting return
    • Waiting for a spare part to return
    • Waiting for a response from a supervisor before you can respond to a customer
Waste
Waste or least the removal of waste is a central theme of the Lean improvement methodology. Commonly there are 8 wastes (up from the previous 7 to include skills or non-utilised talent). Wastes are effectively anything the customer is not willing to pay for and therefore classified as Non-Value Add. There are a couple of acronyms to remember the wastes by: Downtime

  • Defects
  • Over-Production
  • Waiting
  • Non-Utilised Talent
  • Transport
  • Inventory
  • Motion
  • Extra Processing

TIMWOODS

  • Transport
  • Inventory
  • Motion
  • Waiting
  • Over-Production
  • Over-Processing
  • Defects
  • Skills
White Belt (WB)
There are layers of Six-Sigma proficiency represented by belts – similar to those used within karate. White Belt is the introductory level of knowledge and awareness – its the minimum standard.
WIP - Work In Progress
Work in Progress (WIP) is the term given to items which have begun being worked on but not yet finished.

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Yellow Belt (YB)
There are layers of Six-Sigma proficiency represented by belts – similar to those used within karate. Yellow Belt – Basic level of knowledge – participates as a team member delivering everyday continuous improvement

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