Process Improvement: Six Sigma & Kaizen Methodologies
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Process Improvement: Six Sigma & Kaizen Methodologies

[Music Intro]>>Hi I’m Devin Deen, Content Director here at
Hi. Welcome to today’s whiteboard session. In a departure from tradition I’m not going
to talk about project management topics. Instead, I’m going to go over a couple of process improvement
methodologies that have been out in the marketplace for about 50 or 60 years in an effort to maybe
just highlight some key points from each of those methods that you might want to take
on as your own when you’re looking to improve your processes on your projects. If nothing else, it’ll help you score better
the next time you play boardroom bingo. So, the 2 processes I’m going to talk about are
Kaizen, or improvement is good. And Six Sigma which is about eliminating defects. And in
this case Six Sigma refers to about 3.4 defects per million products that you are getting
out there, and that’s where the Six Sigma comes from. Now these methodologies have been out there
for about 50, 60 years. Kaizen came about in post-World War II, so this is after World
War II is over. America sent a number of business consultants over to Japan to help them rebuild
their economy and get the industry and industrial and manufacturing base up and running again. Out of that era came popular improvement methods
like TQM, total quality management, and also Kaizen. Kaizen was born in that era. Six Sigma
came in the mid-80’s, so specifically 1986 is when it first formally surfaced but in
the mid-70’s it was starting to be beaten about by a company called Motorola in the
United States. They manufactured quite a lot of communications equipment. They found that
quality control was dropping off, products were getting worse and worse, and the profitability
as a result was decreasing. So the CEO at the time decided they wanted to do something
about it, so they started looking at ways they could improve their processes in manufacturing
at Motorola. The methodology was finally encapsulated and packaged, if you will, in 1986 and since
then they’ve been using it as well as probably the top 500 Fortune 500 companies have adopted
that methodology for improving their product and their quality control. The philosophies differ slightly. For Kaizen,
the philosophy is more about humanizing the workforce. So, in this way, your workforce
is empowered. Everybody from the CEO down to the janitorial staff have a part in improving
the processes of that company to help it work more effectively, more efficiently, and certainly
safer. For Six Sigma, it’s more of a command and control approach. Six Sigma is your traditional
consulting engagement where people go in, look at the size of the problem, do their
gap analysis, and figure out what to do and how to solve that in a more project by project
approach.Kaizen is about a culture change, Six Sigma is more about solving particular
problems, OK? So there’s slight difference there. How they achieve this is quite similar. In
this case, for Kaizen, they achieve this by having executive leadership all the way down
to, as I said before, the janitor staff being part of that process- partaking in the improvement
process. In Six Sigma, certainly you have to have that executive mandate as well. So,
the executives and the senior management team are adopting and embracing a change for the
better for improving quality and improving processes and ensuring each of the team members
in their company actually has a part in that as well. The difference is that, in Kaizen,
it’s – like I said – it’s part of that culture, it’s how we do things at X company. Whereas
in Six Sigma there are initiatives. There are Six Sigma initiatives where they
are actually looking to drive improvement but, again, every team member has got that
participation and that responsibility but primarily in Six Sigma you’re looking at it
more at a project by project basis. Now, how they do this. So, the key process
in Kaizen is based on Deming’s key process of PDAC and what that stands for is Plan,
Do, Analyze, and Change. And the idea is that PDAC is actually a bit of a cycle, right?
So it’s a repeatable and iterative cycle where you are doing your plan, doing analyzing,
changing. Then do that once for a particular problem that you are having, then you go on
and do it again. Small incremental changes make improvement in the long term. So a Kaizen
company is one that embraces that change but knows it’s a journey, knows their not going
to get there in the first step, and recognizes that the best way to do that is small incremental
improvements at the team level – at the business unit level, if you will. In Six Sigma, how they achieve their result
and their processes – they’ve got loads of processes but, first off, it is a statistical
improvement process. So, in this one it’s very important for them to be able to define
and measure the output they are looking to achieve and then to find specific ways at
addressing that. And we’re not talking small increments or changes. We’re usually talking
big bold changes to improve those processes. So there’s 2 primary processes that are used
in Six Sigma. The first one we call DMAIAC and that stands for Define, Measure, Analyze,
Improve, and Control. The other process is similar to that. It’s DMADV, Define, Measure,
Analyze, Design, and then Verify. And these 2 processes, they are similar, and what they’re
talking about, like I said before, it’s more of an organized, if you will, more of a project
by project initiative where you’re defining actually what the problems are, your measuring
what that might be costing you or where that efficiency loss or that quality loss might
be occurring. You analyze, again, where you can make those improvements. You make the
improvements and you control them, or in this case, you design the new processes that you
need to follow and then you verify that that works. Some key features of each of these, the first
one I want to say and if you haven’t gotten it by now I’ll write it up on the board again.
It’s really culture change here, right? Companies that embrace Kaizen do it holistically. It’s
the entire company, it’s how we do things. Toyota has done so and you might read the
book or Google it on Amazon and you’ll see a book called ‘The Toyota Way’. This is Toyota’s
approach towards Kaizen. It talks about the philosophy at Toyota. It talks about every
team members responsibility. It is certainly a cultural sort of aspect. You talk about companies that are Kaizen companies
and you mention Toyota – look, even where I work here in New Zealand, we’ve got a bank
using Kaizen and they’re using Kaizen to improve the close the books process, if you will,
and the finance team. So it’s not just manufacturing companies that can use this, it’s all types
of industry and the thing to remember it is a cultural change. It’s a cultural process. With Six Sigma, whilst it is cultural in terms
of it’s embracing the need for improvement of quality approaches and streamlining the
workforce, the thing to remember that it is statistical based. Usually within a company
you’ve got designated champions of Six Sigma. You’ve got people, in some cases, that it’s
their full-time job to look for areas of improvement. These folks are called your black belts. They’ve
gone through the Six Sigma training and their familiar with the hundred or so different
processes and hundred or so different ways to measure quality improvement and their out
there running and leading those projects that are out there to improve quality in your manufacturing
base or streamline your processes. You’ve also got green belts who might, as
an example, it might be a side responsibility for a department head to be a green belt in
Six Sigma. So they’ve got a key part in a Six Sigma project. They’re there at the operational
level where the rubble meets the road to actually enact some of those improvement processes
but they’re not driving that change. That’s what the black belts are doing. You’ve got
a series of other color belts and just comprising different Six Sigma project teams to try and
improve that process as well. So, they use the champion approach where you’ve got a designated
person who’s there to deliver Six Sigma projects. So this in a nutshell is a quick chart on
distinguishing the different features between these quality improvement programs. I suggest
that if you’re interested in knowing more about them, certainly I would take that up,
Google it on the internet or go to your local library and pick up a couple of books. Certainly
each of these different quality processes can give you some ideas of your own when you’re
running your project teams on how to improve your efficiency or streamline your workforce
and also improve the quality of products that you are producing from your projects. For more project management whiteboard sessions
and all your project manager needs, come see us at

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74 thoughts on “Process Improvement: Six Sigma & Kaizen Methodologies

  1. Thanks for the great explanatory video. Two suggestions:

    1. Those are actually kanji characters, not katakana as was suggested
    2. It is spelled "statistical"

  2. Really liked your video. It’s hard to be all with the same understanding and agreement, I respect every comments. I’d remark that PDCA involves standardization as part of the ‘act’ step. It does not matter if you call it PDCA, PDAC or PDCV, etc., the importance is the mindset, approach, practice, results, etc.
    About 6s, there is also a strong cultural aspect based on the approach to attend processes variability. The rate of 3.4 defects is related to one million of opportunities rather than one million of products, as one product may have more than one opportunity of failure, which means more than one defect as a potential result of a higher process variation. This is a key factor to understand when we start talking about process variation.
    Thanks again for sharing. It would be interesting to watch a similar video about Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma.

  3. Fundamental flaws in the presentation: American consultants going to Japan had no hand in developing Kaizen. It was only Deming who shared the initial concepts with Toyota during his self-imposed exile in Japan owing to the ignorance he received from Ford. Toyota had already started to develop their own Lean Tools owing to economic drivers. Also it is PDCA and not PDAC.

  4. Either ignorance or insult to Japanese to say that the Kaizen process was developped by American Consultants. The Kaizen improvement is a management tool which derives from the Japanese culture; known for its collectivist behavior, companies considered as families and consensus-based decision making. These unique Eastern (Japanese) cultural traits are the backup and ksf of the Kaizen process in Japan, and somehow the bottlenecks in the Western business communities. The development of the TQM in the 1980s, and the Six Sigma in 1996, emerged after the Service/Product Quality was identified to be the most competitive advantage of Japanese Companies over the Western (US) companies. I would have preferred a well-thought comparison (not Culture against Certification,…). Thanks, It is a good video though

  5. Nice comparative video.  Though the styles and approaches were different they an be incorporated as an advantage to ones success.

  6. What the fuck is this? Americans going to Japan to develop Kaizen..hahaaa you stupid Americans

  7. Sorry to dis-agree.. Both Six Sigma and Kaizen made an impact by changing mentality driven by the leaders of the organization.. and itsPDCA not PDAC.. thanks

  8. This is interesting, but I'll never understand why people choose to get into business, or any of this shit. If I had to deal with this shit every day, I'd probably hang myself.

  9. Kabi please read about TWI(training within Industries) then you will comprehend where CI comes from. America helped Japan factories with KAIZEn through TWI.

  10. whats the point? I need to improve my production or process. Ofcourse I'm going to point out the errors and detect the faults, rectify them. Make adjustments. Why do we need to name it kaizen or six sigma? When it's just common sense for the person handling the process. "People who have the full time job to look for errors". They are quality inspectors and they have to check for errors obviously. WHY THE SPECIFIC NAMES ?

  11. Professor thanks for the help and all the information hope to hear more from you soon . Happy 2019 keep the hard work

  12. 6sigma is defect minimisation (you can’t technically eliminate defect). What you want to eliminate is waste, which is Lean. Kaizen just means change (first badly written Chinese character (kanji in Japanese). Kaizen isn’t a methodology, lean is the methodology from its principle developed from Toyota production system.

    Inaccurate content and history!

  13. Another one, it is not 'Deming's PDAC'. Mr Deming himself referred to it as the Shewhart Cycle and preferred to call it the PDSA cycle.
    Besides as already pointed our by the others here it is PDCA especially in the context of mentioning Deming. It could be PDAC etc.. elsewhere.

  14. 1 June – IE Knowledge Revision
    Industrial Engineering Introduction

    Industrial engineering Principles, Methods Tools and Techniques

  15. I am a Six Sigma Black Belt (equivalent – my old company didn't dare use those trademarked terms). But for the huge company for which I now work as a quality "attack dog" reporting directly to the departmental boss in one much smaller sub-unit), it seems to me that Kaizen is the way to go, mentoring and monitoring, but setting up and empowering local Kaizen teams, starting off with a few quick wins, defining essential departmental metrics for their process inputs (kicking off with SIPOCs to help identify gaps and issues, so a bit Six Sigma-y), but essentially changing the culture, which is all but impossible in a huge monolith. I have been given carte blanche to do this, and also other company units that interface with ours, and also external suppliers.

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