Metrics in Lean Six Sigma
"What gets measured gets done!" That's the saying and we've all heard it before, but what exactly to measure is amongst the most critical questions we can answer in relation to our lean six sigma projects. Lean six sigma is a data driven approach of improvement. With that in mind the data that we choose to establish in our improvement projects must be measurable and aligned with project goals.
There are three general categories of metrics that almost any lean six sigma (CTx's) objective will fall under: Quality, Cost and Time. However, these metrics are quite broad inherently and can still leave us wondering how "improvement" is defined. Which brings us to the most important point of project development, defining up front what "improvement" means.
Before any project kicks off or mapping begins all parties associated should know exactly:
1. What measurements will be used.
2. How those measurements constitute a win.
3. Why those measurements constitute a win.
Defining what metrics will be used to play the game helps employees to stay aligned with objectives and ensure that both the team and the organization get the results they want.
Like the game of basketball teams also need to understand how their metrics constitute a win. For instance an employee with a goal of reducing defects could simply show a traditional yield measurement. Although this measurement may show reduced defects and an improved yield, it may not be exactly "what" the organization wants as traditional yield often creates a hidden factory scenario. For this reason, teams, should understand clearly "how" the measurements align with project goals.
The team who puts the ball in the hoop on any given day more times than their opponent is the winner. The reason why is that there is correlation between a team’s skill, conditioning and teamwork and the amount of points they score. Understanding why they want to score more points helps the morale, motivation and dedication of the team. Going back to our yield calculation example it becomes clear that using a first time yield or a rolled throughput yield is a much truer measurement than a traditional yield would be. After all, why would anybody want 100% yield if there were months of rework involved?
While we sometimes end up on the short end of the stick with projects because what, how and why aren't clearly laid out up front many organizations may find that the wins they wanted were much bigger than what they actually saw. Establishing upfront what, how and why the "game" is being scored the way it is makes it much easier for both the organization and the teams to end with a winning score that aligns with everyones needs.
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