Value Analysis is one of the common denominator and an integrator of Lean and Six Sigma and towards Design and Innovation…. Much has been said to identify the differences between Lean and Six Sigma where Lean focuses on Speed while Six Sigma focuses on Variation both attempting to influence the reduction of waste.
In the context of starting a lean or six sigma project, it all begins with the voice of the business (VOB), the voice of the customer (VOC) or the voice of the process (VOP) depending on the level of your improvement initiative to either influence the business or quality or process control parameters.
Understanding the context of value leads us to detail such as a ratio of benefit to cost thereby influencing the ability to increase customer satisfaction thus revenue and the ability to reduce waste thus cost. Improving both benefit and cost is then a trigger to influence both productivity and efficiency leading ultimately to business value.
Improving benefit is like focusing on the unique selling proposition that makes the customer recognise our products with its differentiating factor, and as such with many quality characteristics that More is Better or even touching on the desires to the heart of the customer . Thus, increasing the ability to satisfy a particular benefit increases quality characteristics which is then translated as CTQ and CTP for process analysis towards overall process effectiveness.
The focus on cost exhibits the analysis of the non-value activities that takes on resources being considered as waste or essential non-value either as for quality or control purposes. There can be many angles of looking at the sources of waste in both the lean and six sigma angle even to the point of challenging the people and executive wastes that challenges our managerial decisions.
This thrust for value analysis is often the most commonly neglected phase of lean and six sigma whereby the characteristics like conformity to certain requirements and parameters like lead time and cost are often entwined as for examination and confirmation purpose during the problem solving phase. It is only when the results reach a certain plateau that we revisit this important phase to understand whether we are consistent with the definition of value / quality that we are speaking of.
And what do we do if the results are levelled after much effort or that the market soon becomes the constraint? It will take a very seasoned manager/ lean sigma practitioner to address the real concerns of the customer. It is then that we turn to value analysis by challenging what we have framed early on as our stable pillars of quality and excellence and realise that it’s not enough and we have to turn the equation around towards not just an improved version of our old process and outputs but moving towards innovation.
So, as we begin the first journey of Six Sigma to Define the Opportunities, and the Opportunities present itself as a way to increase Value… the Measure – Analyse-Improve-Control (MAIC) Phase continues with Six Sigma as the Value Stream Mapping towards Flow and Pull moves on with Lean. And when improving value is not enough to elicit on customer satisfaction/ enhancement, we do not improve, we innovate.
It is on innovation that we challenge the realities and not solve with the current realities as the premise. It is the willingness to change and to try on new ideas and recognise that not just because it has surpassed the years of time does not mean it’s the best. It may be good, but the better and the best has not come yet. It is only when we start being crazy with the ideas that we realise how to approximate the needs and wants of the customers no matter how crazy they may be towards the greater benefit and possibly a more economical cost, thereby a better VALUE for everyone.
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