How do you sustain the improvement? Now that the process problem is fixed and improvements are in place, the team must ensure that the process maintains the gains. In the Control Phase the team is focused on creating a Monitoring Plan to continue measuring the success of the updated process and developing a Response Plan in case there is a dip in performance. Once in place, the team hands these plans off to the Process Owner for ongoing maintenance.
Ensure the Process Is Properly Managed and Monitored
In order to maintain focus, the team must narrow down the vital few measurements they need for ongoing monitoring of the process performance. This Monitoring Plan is accompanied by a Response Plan indicating the levels at which the process should operate and what to do in the case that the process performance starts to decline. This often leads to continued process refinement.
Document the Improved Process
At this point, the team updates their documentation: process maps, new procedures checklists, etc. The better their final documentation, the easier it is for process participants to adopt the new way of doing things. One of the most powerful methods of ensuring others follow the new process is to create a visual workspace. This means that anyone can see at a glance exactly how a process flows and where to find what they need.
Apply Improvements to Other Areas
One of the best ways to increase the power and “bang for the buck” of Lean Six Sigma efforts is to apply the gains from one project into other areas within the organization. Even if the project cannot be transferred to other areas, there may be parts of it that could be adapted and shared. This transfer of improvement ideas can come from large and small efforts but quickly multiplies the impact for each business.
Share and Celebrate Your Success
Sharing project success leads to greater change momentum within the organization. The marketing and publicizing of each success increases the speed of realizing future gains. Teams often share their projects in formal “Gallery Walks” to educate others in the organization and help to build a problem-solving culture. The cycle of improvement is ongoing.
Tools: Gallery Walks
Continuously Improve the Process Using Lean Principles
The four principles of Value, Flow, Pull and Perfection should remain a constant focus for every organization. As Continuous Improvement teams hand over the results of each project, they must make efforts to relay this focus to the employees using the newly improved process. The process can always be improved.
- Value: Determine what steps are required (are of “Value”) to the customer
- Flow: Remove Waste in the system to optimize the process to achieve a smoother pace
- Pull: Ensure the process responds to customer demand (“Pull” = want)
- Perfection: Continuously pursue “Perfection” within the process