Lean Services Blog by Jay Arthur

Improvement Insights Blog

Latest "Service" Posts

Do All That You Can To Raise Productivity

In this interesting video of How the Economic Machine Works Ray Dalio describes some key principles of economic growth. He has three rules for economic improvement. Rule Three is Do All That You Can To Raise Productivity.

Perhaps the most powerful tools for productivity improvement are Lean Value Stream Mapping and Spaghetti Diagramming. The 15-2-20 Rule says that for every 15 minutes of unnecessary delay removed from a process, a business can double productivity and increase profits by 20 percent.

All you need are sticky notes, a flip chart and an hour or two to identify and remove unnecessary delays and movement from any business process.

Posted by Jay Arthur in Lean, Manufacturing, Service.

Lean – Unnecessary Processing of Online Credit Cards

Almost every time I purchase something online, I see a form that looks like this:

The Credit Card Type and Credit Card Number are redundant resulting in unnecessary duplication and processing

    • AMEX card numbers start with a “3”
    • Visa card numbers start with a “4”
    • Mastercard numbers start with a “5”
    • etc.

There is no reason to ask for both. The number will tell you what kind of card you’re processing. Every day, across millions of transactions, customers are asked unnecessarily for a Credit Card Type. This is a type of waste. It irritates me.

Posted by Jay Arthur in Lean, Service.

The Plastic Breakfast Burrito

I had a breakfast burrito at the Marriott in San Diego last week. I cut it in half and took a bite. I realized there was somthing amiss when I pulled out a strip of plastic. I tried to pull it apart, but it wouldn’t break.

I showed it to the cafe staff and she said: “It looks like an onion.” But a cooked onion would pull apart; the plastic didn’t. I got my money back.

I can imagine that if a machine is cutting onions into strips that it would cut plastic as well. Then the plastic just looks like an onion strip in the egg.

Posted by Jay Arthur in Manufacturing, Service, Six Sigma.

Creating a Culture of Quality

The April, 2014 Harvard Business Review has an article about creating a culture of quality. The authors found that a culture of quality will save $13,400 per employee per year. Surveyed participants also said it takes two hours to fix a mistake. Joseph Juran often said that companies lose a quarter (25%) of their revenue finding and fixing mistakes and errors, so this gives us a benchmark and a reason to embrace quality.

“Companies that take a grassroots, peer-driven approach develop a culture of quality. Traditional strategies have little effect.”

Four Factors that Drive Quality

  • Leadership – As Deming said: “The aim of superision should be the help people and machines and gadgets do a better job.

Posted by Jay Arthur in Lean, Manufacturing, Service, Six Sigma.

How Many Green and Black Belts Do You Need?

A QI Macros customer recently asked: ” What is a reasonable and productive ratio of Lean or Six Sigma expert (LSSBB, for example) to staff for a healthcare organization that is starting the journey?”

The general consensus I can find online about Six Sigma belts/employees is:
1 BB/100 employees
3 GB/100 employees

I think these numbers are designed to keep Six Sigma training companies in business.

Depending on the size of a Medical center, you could use one BB and some GBs to get started. You can’t fix everything all at once, so one BB ramrodding a handful of GBs to solve key problems would be a good start.

Posted by Jay Arthur in Lean, Service, Six Sigma.

Dermatology Group Boosts Coding Accuracy from 65.4% to 91.7%

In a matter of months, an NC dermatology group boosted insurance coding accuracy saving $65,000.

While most of the healthcare quality focus is on hospitals, there’s a huge opportunity to make doctor’s offices more effective and efficient. In this case, better coding results in faster payment of insurance claims. Offices can use Lean to reduce patient wait times and increase volume resulting in more revenue and better patient care.

Posted by Jay Arthur in Lean, Service, Six Sigma.

The Art of Subtraction

In Matthew May’s new book, The Laws of Subtraction (McGraw-Hill 2013), he outlines some key concepts refined from his years with Toyota:

At the heart of every difficult decision lie three tough choices:

  • What to pursue versus what to ignore.
  • What to leave in versus what to leave out.
  • What to do versus what to don’t.

The key is to remove the stupid stuff: anything obviously excessive, confusing, wasteful, unnatural, hazardous, hard to use or ugly. This is the art of subtraction.

Isn’t that the core of Lean?

Posted by Jay Arthur in Lean, Manufacturing, Service.

Why Retailers Lose Money

My wife ordered a set of monogrammed bath robes for our daughter and son-in-law from RedEnvelope. When they arrived, she checked them (unnecessaryinspection)…no monograms.

So she called (rework) and they told her to keep the two unmonogrammed ones (waste) and they would send two monogrammed ones.

A couple of days later, we did get two monogrammed bath robes (rework). The next day we got two more and the day after that we got two more (waste and rework). When we called (rework), they said, don’t return them because they’ve been monogrammed already.

So now, we have eight robes for the price of two.

Posted by Jay Arthur in Jay Arthur Blog, Lean, Service, Six Sigma.

PSA Test – a Public Health Disaster

Dr. Richard J. Albin, creator of the PSA test for prostate cancer, says that the devastating consequences treatments including surgery and radiation therapy caused:

  •  5,000 deaths soon after surgery
  • up to 70,000 serious complications
  • 50% had persistent blood in their semen
  • up to 300,000 suffered impotence, incontinence or both.

He now calls the widespread use of the PSA test a “Public Health Disaster.”  As a result of these findings, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force will recommend that healthy men no longer receive PSA testing.

Unnecessary tests and treatments of all kinds are estimated to cost $250 Billion in the U.S.

Posted by Jay Arthur in Lean, Service, Six Sigma.

UPS Efficiency Freaks

BusinessWeek Sept. 20-26, 2010 calls UPS managers “efficiency freaks.” USP began equiping trucks with sensors for everything from brake pad wear to engine efficiencies. This data has helped reduce gas consumption by 25 gallons per year per truck.

Doesn’t sound like much until you realize that UPS has an estimated 95,000 vehicles which means saving almost 2,500,000 gallons per year. Multiply that by $2.50/gallon to get a $6+ million dollar savings. And it makes for a greener planet.

Maybe we could all benefit from more “efficiency freaks.”

Posted by Jay Arthur in Service, Six Sigma.