Multiply Your Time with Lean Six Sigma

In Procrastinate on Purpose, Rory Vaden identifies a key trait of highly successful people: they are willing to spend time today on projects that will save them 10X, 100X and even 1000X more time in the future. He calls these people multipliers—they use time to multiply the amount of time they have.

Systems and Automation

Rory argues that creating systems and using automation multiplies your time. For me, installing a sprinkler system in my yard has saved me thousands of hours of hand watering. Systems are great when they are flawless, but they can also cause unnecessary delays, defects and deviation. Automation can be very powerful, but it can also increase the speed with which you create defects, mistakes and errors.

Every system can get sluggish and error-prone over time. Use Lean Six Sigma to eliminate the waste and rework that devours your time.

Lean Six Sigma Can Multiply Time

Many people wonder: "Where am I going to find the time to do a Lean or Six Sigma project?" If you spend lots of time on firefighting, crisis management or overtime, how can you not afford to make time for improvement projects? Why wouldn't you be willing to spend two hours solving a problem that will save you two hours every week for the next 10 years? Are you going to let the tyranny of the urgent prevent you from achieving the important?

Unfortunately, most people think Lean Six Sigma projects have to take weeks or months. Nothing is further from the truth. Properly focused, a team can map a value stream in an hour and identify ways to eliminate delays. Often, these changes can be put in place immediately.

I've seen nurses identify ways to cut travel in half so that they can spend more time with patients. I've seen hospital labs completely re-imagined in two hours (it takes a bit longer to move and recalibrate the equipment). But I've also helped roll refrigerators across a room to the workplace where they are used. I've unplugged a network printer here and plugged it in over there where the work is done. Even small reductions in travel and wait time add up to big savings. Somethings can be done immediately; just do them!

Every 15 minute reduction in cycle time will double productivity and increase profit margins by 20% (the 15-2-20 Rule). Use Lean to multiply your time.

Six Sigma

Sometimes, the hardest part of Six Sigma is finding the data, but once you do, use QI Macros to turn it into a project in an hour or two. A control chart, Pareto chart or histogram is all you need to get started. Never start a team until you've used these tools to focus the project. Let the data analysis tell you who should be on the team.

If you don't have any data, don't wait for someone to start collecting it. Use a check sheet or defect tracking template to collect enough data to discover the most common type of defect. Then do some root cause analysis and implement countermeasures to mistake-proof the process. Then standardize the solution and sustain it with control charts.

Keep doing this until the chaos settles down. You may want to expand in to cross-functional teams to achieve even bigger savings. Use Six Sigma to multiply your time.

Here's My Point

Lean Six Sigma can help you save time in ways that will multiply your time every day into the future. Want to be more productive? Eliminate the delays, defects and deviation that devour your time. Want to be more successful? Surprise your boss with dramatic reductions in cycle time, defects and cost. Every business suffers from sluggish, error-prone processes. What are you waiting for?

Rights to reprint this article in company periodicals is freely given with the inclusion of the following tag line: "© 2015 Jay Arthur, the KnowWare® Man, (888) 468-1537,"

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