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Eight Lessons in Lean Six Sigma

Bruno Ternon and Nico Alonzi of the George Group weigh up the pros and cons of manufacturing the Lean Six Sigma way

Today, pharmaceutical companies from across the globe, with different cultures and social legislations, are investing in and delivering large-scale Lean Six Sigma improvement initiatives. Some are achieving spectacular success, others are failing miserably. So what is it that makes these initiatives achieve major cost and performance improvements whilst others are little short of being a waste of time? The following lessons represent some of the knowledge we have accumulated from our deployments across the world. They have a significant effect on the journey to improvement programme success.

INTEGRATING SIX SIGMA WITH LEAN MANUFACTURING

Six Sigma techniques can greatly reduce process variation but are unable to significantly improve process speed. By integrating Six Sigma methods with Lean tools and techniques, significant reductions in wasted/non value-added time in a process can be achieved. Today, an increasing number of companies are implementing a combined Lean Six Sigma approach to business excellence and are reaping the rewards.

LEAN SIX SIGMA EFFORTS MUST SUPPORT BUSINESS OBJECTIVES

Every successful deployment should be based on a ‘burning platform’, or some major business challenge or risk that the company can overcome only through Lean Six Sigma. Clearly identifying a key challenge means all of your business leaders will fully understand why you are adopting strategies based on Lean Six Sigma principles. It also means that decisions about the use of Lean methods will be driven by the central question: ‘will doing this support or detract from our business goals?’ Above all else, the CEO and other executives must speak with one voice about the ‘burning platform’ for their business.

It could be a need to regain competitiveness in the market, a need to introduce new services, attract new customers, retain existing customers or simply improve profitability. It is important to convince management teams that, even though they are doing well in their individual industries, they must seek to measure themselves against multi-industry, premier peers. Many organisations use this approach to launch significant Lean Six Sigma initiatives.


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Bruno Ternon is a Director at George Group Consulting, based in The Netherlands. He is a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt with over 20 years of new product development and manufacturing experience in multiple industries, including 13 years in the defence industry. Bruno has trained and coached hundreds of Black Belts, Green Belts and Champions worldwide.

Nico Alonzi is a Director at George Group Consulting, based in the UK. Over the last 12 years, he has helped many global organisations implement strategic change programmes that have delivered operational and financial performance improvements. He has broad experience in designing and deploying global programmes, using a blend of Lean, Six Sigma and change management methodologies, which have enabled his clients to develop, apply and sustain long-term continuous improvement capability

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Bruno Ternon
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Nico Alonzi
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