I’ve been remiss in my promise to start a blog about the emerging quality methodology, TLS (the Synergy between Theory of Constraints (T), Lean (L), and Six Sigma (S). A very busy pre-holiday, and a fun filled family holiday commanded most of my time. I am happy to say it is a new year and my promise is to share my limited (but growing) knowledge of this new grass-roots methodology.
A couple of weeks ago, I got a call from a company that I consulted with and trained their employees in an effort towards implementing the Lean and Six Sigma methodology around three years ago. At that time, they had a very engrained culture which ended up being stronger than the will to change of a few key people. I was recently called by a good friend in the company who had been moved into the operational side of the organization as a plant manager. We had a long lunch together where I learned that his job was to make his plant the benchmark for all other production facilities to emulate. During lunch, he asked if I would help him and his team in the efforts. He talked in length about what was going on in his facility, and listened intently. At the end of his rant, I asked him if he had heard of TLS. Our lunch started around 11:30 am and ended around three … by the end of lunch, my friend was excited to get started.
This company, like many other companies uses a KPI (Key Performance Indicator) that only shows them what their cumulative efforts of the day produced. In this case it was “Yield” … what they initially put into the system, and what was produced out of the end. This metric does not give you a systemic view of why you do not perform as expected. All the steps in between the beginning and the end are hidden. So, like many companies, this one tweaks the system when things do not go as expected, but their tweaks are based on a SWAG (Scientific Wild A!! Guess), not quantifiable data. This had a negative effect on their yield daily.
During the next week, my friend (the plant manager), we’ll call him Steve, met daily to develop a TLS strategy. During, my next blog (I will write that blog on the way back from LA on Friday (1/22/2010), we’ll discuss in detail the strategy that will be used in the hopeful transformation. In the next sequence of blogs on this subject, I suspect I will talk in length about the missing link to the Lean and Six Sigma puzzle, The Theory of Constraints (TOC) and how TOC help to define project focus.
“Until the next thought …”