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A look at the different lean six sigma laws

Six Sigma is a set of methodologies, originally developed for manufacturing processes, which are used to reduce the number of defects through statistical analysis of process data. This set of methodologies can also be applied to other types of business processes. Lean Six Sigma is a particular variety of Six Sigma which is combined with the principles of Lean. The main focus of Lean is to speed up a given process by reducing inefficiencies.

There are five laws used that are the main focus of this methodology.

1. The law of the market.
If a business can't adapt to the marketplace, then no matter what else you do, your process won't be efficient. You can't just do things right, but you have to do the right things. The right things are dictated by what people want and need.
2. The law of flexibility.
As a process becomes more flexible and adaptable, it becomes more efficient and able to cut through the inefficiencies more quickly.
3. The law of focus.
Some of the parts of a process are bottlenecks. These bottlenecks are what cause a process to become less efficient. Most of the rest of the process may be working great, but if the bottleneck is not addressed, it will still cause the rest of the process to become inefficient and ineffective, which brings us to the fourth law.
4. The law of velocity.
A process can only go as fast as its slowest component. If there are very efficient components, but one of the components is slow, and all the other processes have to wait for it to finish, then the net result is that the whole process is slow.
5. The law of the consequences of complexity.
The more complexity there is in a process, department, company, assembly line, machine, or anything really, the harder is to keep it all going. When there are lots of things in a process, there are more things than can break, and they do. When they break, they have to be fixed or the whole process fails. The time spent fixing them and getting them back online is time that could have been spent elsewhere. This is the inherent cost of doing business. Thought should be given to reducing the complexity of a process as much as possible, but without killing the goose that lays the golden egg.

Let's say that you have a manufacturing plant which makes a product, and this product is manufactured to order. The beginning of the process is the order, which, after the order is paid for, the manufacturer should be alerted to begin filling the order. There has been some difficulty in filling these orders on time, but no one seems to know why. Much energy and expense has gone into improving the actual manufacturing process. The machines, conveyor belts, packaging, control systems, and every other conceivable manufacturing process is working at peak performance with no perceived problems. So far, law 1, making something to order is in direct response to the market. As far as the next three laws go, the plant seems to be working well with no bottle necks. The shipping company delivers the packages on time as promised. It is discovered that the problem is due to the packages not being sent out as soon as they are finished being packaged. Unknown to the rest of the process, these packages are being warehoused temporarily because those in charge of shipping were unaware of the urgency of shipping these packages. Only whenthe data for the entire process is analyzed from beginning to end over time did this become apparent. And so we see laws 2,3,4 and 5 in effect. There was not enough attention given to the shipping part of the process, and so the weakest link in the chain dragged the whole process down.

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