By October 17, 2006 2 Comments Read More →

Lean Sigma: What needs to happen first

By Tom Fletcher, Continuous Improvement Facilitator

Blog reader Tom submitted this for your discussion and comments:


Have you ever heard the term “chaos” in your organization? Well I hear it everyday. I have often thought of how to stabilize the chaos and make it a non-issue. As I often dwell on this subject I think of four keys that are needed for stabilization. They are:

  1. Leadership (a person who coaches, mentors, trains and grows the people who work for them)
  2. Organization (Materials, tools, jigs and work areas all in an organized manner)
  3. Adherence to standards (a standard is set and employees follow it to the tee without deviation)
  4. Discipline (if you drop it, pick it up) (putting items back where you got them from)

Now if we were to have these four elements in place, it is my belief that 75% of the problems that occur and cause the chaos would go away. Now with the chaos stabilized this should highlight the true problems that companies face on a daily basis and we would actually be able to use Lean and Six Sigma tools to eliminate them.


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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent project is an eBook titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

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2 Comments on "Lean Sigma: What needs to happen first"

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  1. JWDT says:

    Good post Tom. I know from my own experience and my current employer that if we implemented 1,2 & 4 of your keys we would be in a position to begin #3. Eventually, we would work to using TPS/LEAN to eliminate the waste and Six Sigma to attack the long term problems.

    What do you think the root cause of “chaos” is?
    My guess revolves around cultural or personal comfort areas.

  2. Lean Fushion says:

    Thank you for your feedback! To answer your question in regards to the root cause of chaos, I believe that choas stems from the lack of any one of the elements not being in place. Without all of these elements in place, the processes become unstructured and inefficient which lends itself to a chaotic environment. All elements support each other in one way or another and help to create structure and balance within the processes.

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