Black belt philosophy

Lean SixSigma is a customer-focused change strategy driven by business leaders and market requirements.

It delivers accelerated business results leading to increased productivity and flexibility, lower costs, improved customer satisfaction and overall accelerated business results through the powerful combination of two toolsets: Lean, to eliminate waste, and SixSigma, to eliminate variation.

Lean SixSigma gives us the glasses to see where opportunities for improvement lie, and equips us with the tools to make the improvements a reality.

Publications and Web sites are littered with the benefits of Lean SixSigma and suggest that there is enormous opportunity within our processes. But how do we identify and capture these opportunities? How do we drive positive change in our organizations and avoid implementing just another cost reduction program? How do we become true Lean organizations?

Perhaps capital investments in technology or equipment will drive a Lean organization? Not likely. The benefits of technology and computer systems are well-documented, and your organization may benefit from new equipment, but Lean does not require a computer and rarely does it require significant capital investment.

The greatest enabler to becoming a Lean organization lies in the priceless resources already employed by the company – its people.

Lean SixSigma philosophies, first and foremost, involve and engage the people closest to the work in order to quickly drive positive change. By involving, engaging and developing our people, we fuel the engine that drives continuous improvement throughout all business processes. This continuous improvement leads to increased productivity, greater profitability and world-class customer satisfaction.

Perhaps the most powerful tool that Lean organizations utilize is that of Kaizen. Kaizen is a Japanese term made up of two parts: kai, meaning change, and zen, meaning for the better. Kaizen simply means “a rapid change for the better” or “rapid, continuous improvement.”

A Kaizen event is a team event with a bias toward rapid positive change and action, typically executed in five days or less. The typical Kaizen event is a collective effort between BlackBelts, shop floor employees and management of all levels, with a common goal of eliminating waste and solving problems that restrict flow.

The Kaizen concept itself, although powerful, does not stand on its own as an agent for change or improvement. The power of Lean and Kaizen events comes from its most important participants — the people who actually do the work.

Developing your people in the competencies of Lean creates a work force that is competent in concepts such as flow, waste identification and elimination, and continuous improvement concepts. Furthermore, developing a work force that is proficient in Kaizen facilitation and execution builds an organization with a bias for action and positive change that is necessary to drive accelerated business results.

SixSigma competencies provide your work force with powerful tools in data analysis, variation reduction and elimination and design of experiment capabilities. This combination of competencies creates a culture of continuous improvement that is focused on capturing the knowledge and creativity of all employees in order to drive positive change.

Jeff Lytle is a Lean SixSigma BlackBelt Manager at Fairlawn-based OMNOVA Solutions Inc. OMNOVA is an innovator of emulsion polymers, specialty chemicals, and decorative and functional surfaces for commercial, industrial and residential end uses. The company is building its culture through Lean SixSigma-based work force development, utilizing Lean SixSigma BlackBelts, SixSigma BlackBelts and GreenBelts, and companywide Kaizen facilitation training. Reach him at (330) 628-6516 or [email protected]