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Why has Lean Six Sigma been spreading so much in the world? 【Growing rapidly in service operations】

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Why has Lean Six Sigma been spreadin...

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New ideas are born in an environment free of stereotypical mindset.


Hi, this is Mike Negami, Lean Sigma Black Belt.


Today‘s theme is “Why has Lean Sigma been spreading so much in the world?”  Lean came from the Toyota Production System. Six Sigma is a production management method developed by Motorola. Since both methodologies came from manufacturing companies, many of you may think that Lean Sigma is only for manufacturing.


Of course, it was mainly utilized by those departments at the beginning, but here in America, because this is a multi-ethnic country and there are not many business stereotypes compared to Japan, people didn’t think “this is just for the manufacturing industry”, so Lean Sigma was largely utilized in non-manufacturing industries.


I’m going off topic now a little bit, but I think that when you go to a sushi restaurant in the US, you will be surprised by their huge selection of sushi rolls. Most restaurants create their own special sushi rolls freely, so each restaurant has thirty or forty kinds of sushi rolls.  I’m Japanese and we may have a stereotyped image of sushi. People here in the US see things differently, so I could learn a lot from people’s flexibility and imagination here.


Thanks to the American people’s flexibility, Lean Sigma, scientific process improvement, has been applied to non-manufacturing sectors such as office work and service departments. Even more, this methodology makes us think how we can make our repetitive work or any process in our day-to-day operations faster, more productive and cheaper.


Applying Lean Six Sigma to service operations is growing.


Speaking of different industries, the IT, financial and medical industries in the US utilize Lean Sigma greatly. Many large companies establish a Process Improvement Department in their headquarters and hire Lean Sigma Belts.  They conduct total process analyses company-wide and subsidiary-wide and have achieved total optimization. Along the way, Lean Sigma Belts in global companies are traveling all over and playing an active role around the world. Lean Sigma Belts are increasing globally.


For the past several years, there’s been a boom in hospitals introducing Lean Sigma. I came to the US in 2001.  At that time it was common to wait a few hours in the hospital. Recently we rarely need to wait that long in hospitals and can feel the results of Lean Sigma.


A matter of fact, my company is in the food industry and has operated the employee cafes of large companies. It is very far from the manufacturing industry. I use my Lean Sigma skills every day and put out the results in a number of improvements.  Recently my Division CEO told me to train and provide 100 Green Belts in the future. That motivated me very much. I will talk about how I utilize Lean Sigma in my work later on.


Today’s theme’s conclusion


Today‘s theme is “Why has Lean Sigma been spreading so much in the world?” I’ll cut to the chase to answer that question. “It’s because Lean Sigma has come up with a number of achievements in non-manufacturing industries.”  I don’t know the actual numbers, but the number of people in general who are working in non-manufacturing departments are far more than those who are working in manufacturing departments.


Since those people in non-manufacturing departments have introduced this scientific method in their process improvements, many departments, many companies, many industries and many countries have achieved many improvement projects with Lean Sigma.  There is no reason that Lean Sigma cannot spread all over the world.


However there is only one exception to that among other countries. It is my own country, Japan. I would like to tell the Japanese people, “Try using this methodology in your non-manufacturing departments, then you’ll get tremendous results.” Thank you very much for listening. Also please click the ‘Subscribe’ button.


<< Mike’s Comment >>


It is unforgettable for me, that I immigrated to the US in May 2001.  September 11 happened 4 months after that, so as might be expected my parents in Japan were very worried about us.


I could barely speak English at that time, but now, 14 years later, I’m working for a global company surrounded by American people.  I’m the only Asian in my office.  I sometimes wonder “How can I be here?  It doesn’t feel real.”


I can live like this because of Lean Sigma.  Since I have a proven track record using this methodology every day, my American co-workers acknowledge my performance.  Therefore I take more pride in knowing the greatness of Lean Sigma, than anybody else.


In this episode, I explain why Lean Sigma has been spreading rapidly in the world while talking about the US situation and my own experience.  I also offer a proposal to Japanese business people.


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