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Tools

Tool Descriptions

Here are descriptions of the principal tools deployed within the Lean, Six Sigma, and High-Performance Organization (HPO) disciplines.

LEAN
Value stream mapping
5S
Preventive maintenance
Uniform work center load
Standardized work
U-shaped work cells
Videotaping
Poka-yoke
Spaghetti map
Pull system

SIX SIGMA
Failure Mode & Effects Analysis (FMEA)
Process map
Cause-and-effect diagram
Design of Experiments (DOE)
Financial screening & analyses
Gage Repeatability and Reproducibility (Gage R&R)
Control plan
Multi-vari study
Control chart
Capability study

HIGH-PERFORMANCE ORGANIZATION
Performance framework
Six criteria for productive work
Restructuring workshops
Team-developed goals
Vertical & lateral goal negotiation
RACI matrix
Expanded participation planning events
Skills matrix
Dialogue session
Lessons learned analysis


LEAN
Value stream mapping—A process in which a group develops a diagram showing major steps and information required to bring a product from order to delivery for a product or service family. Typically, groups of middle managers and some front-line employees develop these maps for the current state and for the future state. In addition to the visual flow, for each major operation the map also contains data such as cycle time, up time, change over time, available time, and value-added and non-value-added time throughout the process.

5S—the principles and tools to Sort (Seiri), Straighten (Seiton), Shine (Seiso), Standardize (Seiketsu), and Sustain (Shitsuke). This discipline brings orderliness, cleanliness, and standardization to a workplace and makes it easier to establish visual controls that help determine problems or potential problems.

Preventive maintenance—the process of identifying key pieces of equipment or other means of production that require periodic calibration or upkeeping tasks to ensure that the process that uses them continues to operate without them breaking down or malfunctioning.

Uniform work center load—a condition that exists when all workstations are designed to generate outputs at the same rate, usually at the rate of customer demand. For example, if customers purchase 10 units per day, then Workstations A, B, and C would all produce outputs that would satisfy the requirement of building 10 final units per day for customer purchases.

Standardized work—a series of tasks that is executed in a repeatable, consistent way irrespective of when the tasks are executed or who executes the tasks.

U-shaped work cells—the physical configuration of a set of operations into a “U” shape that minimizes the movement that a worker or team of workers must do.

Videotaping—the recording of a worker performing an operation or set-up task that can later be used to analyze worker movements and develop a faster, safer, or less expensive way to do the work.

Poka-yoke—a Japanese term that means designing a process so that mistakes can not physically be made.

Spaghetti map—a visual depiction of the flow of material through a series of operations as a product is made. If no process has improvement activities that have been done to date, the resulting visual resembles a plate of tangled spaghetti.

Pull system—a method of production in which a downstream operation signals its needs for materials from an upstream operation. Because the upstream operations can produce only when they receive a signal, overall inventory in the production process is kept low and average time for raw material to move from receiving to shipping is reduced.


SIX SIGMA
Failure Mode & Effects Analysis (FMEA)—a method that helps identify potential failures of process components and their impacts on other process components and what should be done to address high-priority and high-likelihood problems.

Process map—a visual depiction of the flow of activities and decisions that occur to produce an output for a customer. Process maps may also show department boundaries, time required for key activities, delays, and an indication of whether an activity adds value to the customer or not.

Cause-and-effect diagram—a visual tool that shows potential causes for a specific problem or effect by displaying them in an increasing level of detail. It helps teams identify root causes of potential problems. (Also called an Ishikawa diagram.)


Design of Experiments (DOE)—a method that helps determine relationships between factors (Xs) affecting a process and process output (Y) using a minimal number of experiments to test factor influence.

Financial screening & analyses—actions taken to help prioritize, select, and sometimes kill process improvement projects. Such analyses quantitatively show the relative costs and benefits of improvement efforts to help ensure that projects that will have the greatest impact are receiving the organization’s scarce resources.

Gage Repeatability and Reproducibility (Gage R&R)—a statistical tool that measures the amount of variation in the measurement system that comes from the measurement device and the people who are taking the measurement.

Control plan—a set of steps designed to achieve a state of stability, normal variation, and predictability.

Multi-vari study—a study that graphically displays patterns of variation over time. It can help identify possible Xs or families of variation, such as variation within a subgroup, between subgroups.

Control chart—a visual representation of a variable over time. These charts help operators continually watch for critical changes in the variation, or the average, of a set of data.

Capability study—a graphical or statistical tool that visually or mathematically compares actual process performance to customer-established performance standards. Such a visual plot or calculation requires the mean and standard deviation associated with the attribute of interest in a sample of product (typically a sample size of 30) and associated customer requirements.



HIGH-PERFORMANCE ORGANIZATION

Performance framework—a visual map of high-leverage performance factors that helps LSS/HPO leaders develop plans, monitor progress, debate alternative courses of action, and conduct lessons learned analyses in the context of a set of interrelated performance factors. This tool, which focuses on the interaction of key performance factors, is one of the three basic tools leaders use in each LSS/HPO stage.

Six criteria for productive work—factors that, when present, lead to employees’ producing more output within a given period of time. These six factors, originally articulated by Fred Emery and Einar Thorsrud, have over 35 years of research and data to support the claim for higher performance. The criteria are: 1) autonomy in decision making, 2) continual learning, for which there must be the ability to (a) set goals and (b) receive accurate and timely feedback, 3) variety, 4) mutual support and respect, 5) meaningfulness which consists of (a) doing something with social value and (b) seeing the whole product or service, and 6) a desirable future, either inside or outside the organization.

Restructuring workshops—a large-group method used to restructure organizations into high-performance teams. The design shown is typically a one to three day process conducted for a segment of the organization ranging in size from 15 to 200 people per workshop. To demonstrate that the organization is serious about the redesign to high- performance teams, it is helpful to have senior management kick-off as many sessions as possible. It is most helpful for them to indicate they support the effort, say they trust people to come up with a great result, and then leave to let the people get to work.

Team-developed goals—a high-leverage approach that helps motivate team members by allowing them to set their own targets—most often stretch targets—and then have a sense of accomplishment once they achieve them.

Vertical & lateral goal negotiation—the process of a team discussing and agreeing upon a set of goals with their manager (the vertical negotiation), and with other groups (the lateral negotiation) to which they supply products or services. This negotiation step is a critical one that occurs after a team develops its initial set of goals because this step ensures that the team is not operating in a vacuum, and is instead taking into consideration the organization’s strategic direction (provided through negotiation with the team’s manager) and alignment with activities and target outcomes of other teams (provided through the lateral negotiation).

RACI matrix—a two-by-two matrix that maps people to general tasks/responsibilities. In the intersection cell of the person and a general task, the chart shows the nature of how the person is involved: R (Primary Responsibility), A (Approval), C (Consult), or I (Inform).

Expanded participation planning events—gatherings of people (usually 10 to 80) in which they collectively explore the issues impacting their future, develop vision points, and then develop action plans to achieve those vision points.

Skills matrix—a two-by-two matrix with skills listed down the left side and individuals’ names listed across the top of the matrix.

Dialogue session—a conversation session for surfacing key issues and assumptions around an area of improvement interest. Typically, no decisions are made at dialogue sessions so that people can use the time to genuinely and deeply explore an issue and its ramifications. Decisions and action plans are then developed later, after the dialogue session concludes.

Lessons learned analysis—a semi-structured group session in which group members discuss a recent project segment or operation and collectively explore what went well, what didn’t go well, and what might be done differently the next time a similar situation is encountered.

LEAN
Value stream mapping
5S
Preventive maintenance
Uniform work center load
Standardized work
U-shaped work cells
Videotaping
Poka-yoke
Spaghetti map
Pull system

SIX SIGMA
Failure Mode & Effects Analysis (FMEA)
Process map
Cause-and-effect diagram
Design of Experiments (DOE)
Financial screening & analyses
Gage Repeatability and Reproducibility (Gage R&R)
Control plan
Multi-vari study
Control chart
Capability study

HIGH-PERFORMANCE ORGANIZATION
Performance framework
Six criteria for productive work
Restructuring workshops
Team-developed goals
Vertical & lateral goal negotiation
RACI matrix
Expanded participation planning events
Skills matrix
Dialogue session
Lessons learned analysis