Lean Six Sigma

A PROVEN GLOBAL BEST PRACTICE FOR OPERATIONAL EXCELLENCE, DONE RIGHT.
Lean Six Sigma is the foundation of the Exent approach to transforming enterprise performance.
Drive major efficiencies, reduce costs, expedite turnaround and dramatically improve the customer experience.
We are a results-oriented Lean Six Sigma leader, with numerous implementations into F500 clients across ANZ

When organisations seek to create break-through performance, profitability and transformational change, there is one stand-out approach recognised globally as a best practice for building excellence across all areas of the enterprise. Lean Six Sigma has delivered major uplift at F1000 organisations globally in industries as diverse as manufacturing, finance, transportation, healthcare, primary production, energy, retail and more.

Lean Six Sigma integrates Lean Manufacturing / Lean Enterprise – an approach that drives efficiency, flow and reduces waste in a system – with Six Sigma – an approach that drives effectiveness, quality and optimised outcomes – into a single set of strategies and tools that apply to any area of the enterprise. Lean Six Sigma addresses the fundamental and underlying operational challenges in a business, rather than look to sometimes-superficial solutions like bloating up the workforce, replacing IT systems, restructuring or downsizing, and acquiring or divesting business units – it is a robust way to directly improve the effectiveness, profitability and performance of an operation for both short-term uplift as well as long-term transformation.

We are a leader in implementing Lean Six Sigma at many complex and diverse organisations from banking to telecommunications to healthcare and more. Our approach is built on many challenging but successful deployments, recognising the critical success factors as well as the risks and pitfalls of implement Lean Six Sigma, and how each implementation is nuanced and adapted for its organisational context and mission.

What Is Lean Six Sigma

Lean Enterprise

Lean began as the Toyota Production System many decades ago, initially developed to optimise efficiencies within a vehicle production context, and first packaged as Lean Manufacturing or Lean Enterprise by Womack et al in their book “The Machine That Changed The World”. Lean treats any operational environment – whether industrial or service – as a system, and has innovative approaches and tools to find and eliminate the waste within that system as well as creating stability and flow. Lean’s primary “three enemies” are Muda (Waste) including things like defects, overproduction, inventory and unnecessary motion, waiting or processing; Muri (Overburden) implying inefficiency that results from overworking or mis-using plant or people, and Mura (Unevenness) resulting from excessive demand or supply variation and the absence of stable and continuous flow of production.

lean seven wastes mura muri muda

Six Sigma

Originating within Motorolla and popularised by GE, Six Sigma is an improvement approach built on management science which models the outcomes of a process as a result of the variables inside the process, and seeks robust ways to identify which variables are key and exactly how to optimise and control them. The goal: process performance that is known, stable and optimised over the long-term, with excellent control and very low defects. Like Lean Enterprise, Six Sigma is a collection of tools and tactics, but is more importantly a transformative way of viewing your business – everything from sales to finance to operations – based on data and analytics.

six sigma dmaic define measure analyse improve control

Six Sigma drives improvement through a structured 5-phase approach: Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve and Control (DMAIC, pron “Duh-may-ic”) that defines the problem and the target state (from customer and business perspectives), uses data and statistical approaches to identify the critical key variables that are driving outcomes, and then makes structured improvements followed up by robust stabilisation and control to ensure gains are realised and quantified.

An integrated "Lean Six Sigma" approach delivers major step-change improvements across all functions and when led from the top and embedded into the organisation, build genuine Transformation towards continuous improvement across the entire workforce.

Our Approach - Results First

Improvement Practitioner Model

While Lean Six Sigma done well represents massive upside potential for organisations, the risk of failure, frustration and under-delivery exist and can’t be ignored. Beyond the theory, practical application raises some challenges that demand expert navigation – questions of balance between full methodological rigour vs pragmatically delivering outcomes, strategies around how to resource and build capability, and what the right capability really looks like, how to align Lean Six Sigma with existing change, improvement and BAU channels, tactics for building a portfolio of successful initiatives and a provable business case around success.

Organisations that seek to naively apply the methodology in a classic, linear fashion – where an edict is cascaded, the method is taught, and myriad initiatives are launched – are, without hyperbole, doomed to eventual failure either with a bang or a whimper. Our playbook for successfully implementing Lean Six Sigma is complex and nuanced, but five themes are key.

1.

Led Strategically & Right-Sized 

Lean Six Sigma must form part of the business strategy as a pathway to break-through performance, however that is defined. It must be nuanced and adapted, without diluting its effectiveness, to the organisation’s size, maturity and context.

2.

Results-Led Delivering Outcomes That Matter Early & Often

An orientation towards delivering results must pervade the implementation from top to bottom – from reverse-engineering performance metrics back into to discrete opportunities for improvement, down to the way that Lean Six Sigma practitioners navigate methodology to deliver results at pace.

3.

Leader Accountability & Leader Standard Work – Keys To Transformation

If Lean Six Sigma implementations focus too heavily on only delivering discrete initiatives without changing “the way we work”, they will remain “off to the side” and non-central to BAU and the operation. Implementations that outlive the first 3 years of life focus on creating real change at all levels of leadership, building in personal and group accountability for embedding new work practices, shifting culture and habits and making Lean Six Sigma a part of the workforce’s DNA so to speak. Failure fundamentally to transform the workforce is a key failure mode of unsuccessful implementations.

4.

Resourced By The Best With A Balanced Model Of Capability

Improvement practitioners should be selected and engaged from the pool of rising talent and future leaders within the organisation, without exception, as part of their path to mastering business change. Resourcing with a pool of analysts, under-powered frontline staff, or mere aspirants will result in failure to engage and influence the organisation (especially the talent and leader pool that are recipients of improvement and change). Further, the competency model should be expanded from classical “process and data” skills to a broader set of change management, influencing, business acumen and project skills which are not merely complementary, but central to creating a high-impact improvement practitioner.

5.

Staged Implementation Based On Maturity

Great implementations recognise cycles of forward movement, that progressively deploy more transformation while measuring success and actively learning. There are four dimensions along which various aspects of Lean Six Sigma are deployed at the right time, sequenced properly and in the right way without over-complicating things. The maturity model and an implementation roadmap that builds in this approach is a success best practice.

Our Lean Six Sigma Clients

How We Assist

Lean Six Sigma Strategy
Lean Six Sigma Implementation
Lean Six Sigma Initiatives
Talent On Tap Resourcing
Lean Six Sigma Training
Lean Six Sigma Mentoring

Lean Six Sigma Strategy

We assist organisations to develop their strategy when first approaching the question of how to implement Lean Six Sigma.  While Lean Six Sigma presents significant upside opportunity, there are many known better practices and also many pitfalls, with a high penalty associated with implementation failure in terms of sunk cost, mission perception, and organisational engagement. Getting the deployment strategy right is therefore critical.

We build Lean Six Sigma strategies that address:

  • The right strategic mission, objectives and future state vision that reflect Lean Six Sigma strengths and its best utilisation
  • Strategies and approaches for engaging the organisation, creating urgency and priority and aligning Business-As-Usual with Lean Six Sigma
  • How to deliver a portfolio of significant wins, early and often, to justify investment and create visible, communicable success
  • What the right agenda, accountabilities and alignment must exist for executives and leaders to ensure the right behaviours and sponsorship
  • The critical strategies and approaches to transform the organisation’s frontline culture, operational practice, and work habits without which any short-term, local change will eventually lose relevance
  • How best to build up internal capability for the long-term with training and mentoring and how to build and support a central function that will keep the organisation on track and enable continued success
  • The success factors applicable to industry and operation, necessary to avoid known pitfalls and drive results at pace

Lean Six Sigma Implementation

Building a Lean Six Sigma organisation is paradoxically both simple and difficult. Simple, in that there are a few key strategies to execute well. Difficult, in that those strategies often require working completely new ‘muscles’, navigating significant entropy, and delivering challenging ‘big wins’. We assist organisations in expediting that implementation journey by acting as a key advisor, director and implementor across a range of technical and functional aspects including:

  • Engaging, educating and tasking leaders in line with the overall mission
  • Forming capability programmes to train, mentor and upskill the workforce to various levels in Lean Six Sigma
  • Installing and guiding a Centre of Excellence to support initiatives, harvest learnings, establish a community of practice, and create line of sight for executive steering
  • Build and govern a portfolio of initiatives to deliver cost savings, customer wins, quality and service improvements and strategic outcomes
  • Once “Launch Phase” is complete, stable and proven, then hand over to a Business-As-Usual function to own and build on the success of Lean Six Sigma for the long-term

Lean Six Sigma Initiatives

As expert practitioners, we can directly deliver Lean Six Sigma initiatives of all shapes and sizes, into diverse areas like operations, logistics, sales and marketing, finance, asset maintenance and more. We’re experienced in the nuanced differences that arise between industrial vs service environments and have deep expertise across a range of industries and sectors.

Most importantly, our experience enables us to look beyond the methodology to deliver results fast. Companies and staff first learning Lean Six Sigma often find themselves spending too long focusing on and mastering the methodology, rather than finding and delivering business outcomes fast. We’ve engineered a blended approach we call “FastPath” that moves rapidly through the critical levers of change while also applying the Lean Six Sigma toolset quickly and aptly (without over- or -under-using the rigour). This greatly benefits organisations with high-priority or business-case sensitive initiatives.

means we know the method deeply, but are able

Talent On Tap Resourcing

Organisations with a level of maturity in Lean Six Sigma that have successfully moved from Launch to Operate phases will often have an established set of improvement resources allocated to strategic and operational improvement. We help augment those resources with flexible and scalable Lean Six Sigma consulting resources on a  “Talent On Tap” basis, providing short- or mid-term embedded resourcing that has a number of benefits to organisations.

  • Very experienced Lean Six Sigma practitioners consulting talent at hybrid rates, with flexible timing and engagement options
  • Brought in on a “project” basis, not a “labour hire” basis, around scope, outcomes and deliverables
  • Re-usable, dependable talent pool in a narrow niche that can scale at short notice with flexible start and end timing without worrying about long-term retention
  • Offered on a “partnering” basis with the same Lean Six Sigma talent available over time, and no loss of IP or domain knowledge
  • Guaranteed performance with senior oversight and escalation channels, rather than unmanaged, risky and patchy contractor pools

Lean Six Sigma Training

Based on our many years of delivering best practice Lean Six Sigma, we have delivered dozens of training and capability development programmes to literally thousands of Lean Six Sigma practitioners at all levels. Our model of an improvement practitioner and what they need to learn is informed by literally hundreds of successful implementations and initiatives. As a result, we take a balanced pragmatic view of Lean Six Sigma syllabus – blending in complementary skills around business change, project management, delivering impactful results, etc in addition to a right-sized approach to the deeper technical aspects of Lean and Six Sigma.

We run both training programmes for leaders and practitioners at all levels, continuously year-round in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne as well as on-site anywhere globally for in-house training. In addition, we are able to custom tailor training for organisations looking to focus on particular aspects of the syllabus. We offer formal certification for all courses backed by the world’s pre-eminent body for Lean Six Sigma – the American Society For Quality (ASQ).

Lean Six Sigma Mentoring

Building Lean Six Sigma capability requires more than classroom learning. Like most competencies, real learning occurs on the job with real application, which is why ongoing mentoring features as a critical success factor for leading Lean Six Sigma programmes globally. Our mentoring programmes takes practitioners at all stages, from fledgling to mature, and stretches their capability in three “dimensions”:-

  • Depth: technical mastery of what they’ve been taught, and how to gain proficiency, apply tools and strategies faster, and build excellence in their technical and functional competency
  • Breadth: other complementary areas that are required for a well-rounded practitioner (rather than a niche technical expert), drawing from our Improvement Practitioner Model and a balanced set of skills necessary for business improvement success
  • Height: high-impact results, delivered rapidly, effectively and consistently – this is coaching to remove personal blocks, change habits of thinking and action/inaction, and create fluency and effectiveness that make practitioners truly relevant to their business