Lean Six Sigma in Operations Management

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Important Background Information

Lean Six Sigma is an evidence-based practice that utilizes data in order to drive organizational improvements and ensure that the vast majority of defects could be detected effectively. One of the essential venues related to this methodology is that Lean Six Sigma is centered on customer satisfaction and the reduction of scenarios where variation could damage consumer experiences (Madhani 2020).

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Therefore, Lean Six Sigma is a competitive advantage that is used by many businesses to standardize their operations and also make sure that the cycle time can be decreased. Any business where even the slightest variation exists may benefit from the implementation of Lean Six Sigma due to its centeredness on financial resources (cost-cutting initiatives are rather common for companies applying this methodology) and a specific focus on the customer and employee satisfaction (Stankalla, Koval and Chromjakova 2018). The merging of Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma allowed businesses across the globe to benefit from the increased ability to prioritize and overcome the isolated application of the two models.

Lean Six Sigma Implementation

Deploying a Lean Six Sigma Program

When an organization chooses to deploy a single Lean Six Sigma program, it means that the workforce is going to learn the basics of statistical data analysis and gain better insight into how tools should be applied in order to improve corporate operations. At this point, the management unit often tends to set up consultations with external specialists in order to achieve success quicker (Galli & Kaviani 2018).

In a sense, when an organization merely implements a Lean Six Sigma program, it means that the team was able to address some of the vital issues in an unstructured fashion in order to extend the current toolbox. Overall, it would be essential for the business to extend its reach further to have the ability to apply all the required tools (Laureani and Antony 2019). Yet, it should be noted that a mere Lean Six Sigma program would not become an integral part of the organization over time.

Deploying a Lean Six Sigma Infrastructure

To achieve truly improved outcomes, the team could resort to deploying a fully-fledged infrastructure that is based on Lean Six Sigma training and a customer-oriented approach. In line with Raja Sreedharan et al. (2020), it is not enough to have the ability to pick the right tool, but it should also be important to focus on the processes that could lead the business to positive outcomes at the end of the day. Therefore, every training activity should be aiming to help the workforce respond to predefined issues in a preventive manner without putting a strain on organizational resources or employees (Laureani and Antony 2019). In the case where Lean Six Sigma becomes a business strategy and not a toolbox, the company has many more chances to benefit from investing in training and essential employee retention.

Benefits and Limitations of Lean Six Sigma

Benefits

One of the key reasons why retail businesses should pay closer attention to Lean Six Sigma is that it focuses on the assessment of potential defects in order to prevent the organization from being exposed to them. The key rationale behind this idea is that it might be cheaper to prevent the issue rather than deal with its consequences (Stankalla, Koval and Chromjakova 2018). As soon as the business starts following the Lean Six Sigma principles, it gains access to extended data-driven reports that make it much easier for the management to resolve existing and upcoming issues related to inventory and supply chain management. Another distinctive trait of Lean Six Sigma is a focus on continuous improvement that cannot be found in other similar business methodologies. According to Madhani (2020), this means that if a solution does not work, the team will quickly jump to the next option instead of stagnating.

The essential idea is that even though not all companies have the possibility to achieve the perfect error to quality ratio (99.99966%), Lean Six Sigma is going to improve organizational operations either way. The proactive nature of this methodology is what sets it apart from any other business operations because Lean Six Sigma is focused on the ability of a company to address customer-related issues because they even reach customers and lead to serious complaints (Madhani 2020).

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For smaller companies, Lean Six Sigma could be an essential asset as well, meaning that a reduced number of returns would serve as a money-saving initiative. Despite the fact it takes a lot of time to address the majority of business- and company-related concepts with the help of Lean Six Sigma, it should be noted that customer-centeredness pays off rather quickly (Galli & Kaviani, 2018). Therefore, businesses should protect their integrity at all costs while trying to reduce the rate of errors characteristic of their production.

Limitations

Knowing that Lean Six Sigma is directly implemented to affect the planning process within the organization and improve production, it may be safe to say that this methodology could increase the strength of bureaucracy within the given organization and cause numerous production delays paired with the lack of creativity. Dasig Jr (2017) explains this as the consequence of a certain extent of the rigidity of Lean Six Sigma that if enforced by strict quality control measures inherent in the methodology. It could lead the company to accepting more inexpensive measures with the intention of increasing the rate of spotted defects instead of paying attention to the initial quality of products and the company’s profitability as a whole (Madhani 2020). This adverse impact cannot be overlooked due to the omnipresent nature of Lean Six Sigma that affects every organizational unit.

Another problem that cannot be ignored is the cost of implementing Lean Six Sigma that can become unbearable for smaller companies over time. In line with the evidence provided by Dasig Jr (2017), it may be safe to say that the training that employees should obtain in order to align their operations against Lean Six Sigma would take time and monetary resources while also testing the level of commitment displayed by the workforce.

When a business experiences the need to implement Lean Six Sigma, they tend to overlook the benefits of formal certification and get straight to the action, leaving some of the employees unaware of how certain things work when it comes to this improvement methodology (Stankalla, Koval and Chromjakova 2018). Accordingly, the lack of resources is vital for smaller organizations because they usually exert a higher level of creativity than their larger counterparts, and Lean Six Sigma could take that competitive advantage away from them.

Conclusion

Lean Six Sigma is a strategy that is focused on customer satisfaction and various improvements that would help the team reduce the occurrence of human or mechanic errors affecting the quality of production. This is an important investment area for the businesses active in the area of retail because Lean Six Sigma is one of the strategies to attain diversity and flexibility while also focusing on reasonable advancement.

Therefore, it may be concluded that Lean Six Sigma is going to be rather successful in retail due to its perfect adjustment to the fast-paced industries and highly competitive environments. Another important idea that the majority of limitations of Lean Six Sigma could be overcome with the help of the execution of additional projects associated with retail, helping the management discover new operational capabilities.

The transformation that a company could undergo with the help of Lean Six Sigma may be described as the attainment of streamlined organizational operations and team engagement aimed at the generation of competitive advantages. Even though the Lean Six Sigma methodology is rather effective, it should be noted that the team should remain committed to inefficiencies and waste detection in order to actually improve its operations.

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Based on the evidence reviewed within the framework of the current paper, it may be concluded that the strict emphasis on organizational performance and various measurements is what sets Lean Six Sigma apart from any other business practice intended to instill a change-based mentality in retail executives and employees. The framework of the integration of Lean Six Sigma should contain a detailed agenda regarding required retail operations. The rationale behind this idea is that organizational performance also depends on the ability of the management to collect and assess performance-related data.

Reference List

Dasig Jr, D. (2017) ‘A frontier in organizational and business process innovation in service management through lean six sigma Kaizen project implementation’, Journal of Administrative and Business Studies, 3(6), pp. 263-283.

Galli, B. J. and Kaviani, M. A. (2018) ‘The impacts of risk on deploying and sustaining Lean Six Sigma initiatives’, International Journal of Risk and Contingency Management, 7(1), pp. 46-70.

Laureani, A. and Antony, J. (2019) ‘Leadership and Lean Six Sigma: a systematic literature review’, Total Quality Management & Business Excellence, 30(1-2), pp. 53-81.

Madhani, P. M. (2020) ‘Performance optimisation of retail industry: Lean Six Sigma approach’, ASBM Journal of Management, 13(1), pp. 74-91.

Raja Sreedharan, V. et al. (2020) ‘Synergising Lean Six Sigma with human resource practices: evidence from literature arena’, Total Quality Management & Business Excellence, 31(5-6), pp. 636-653.

Stankalla, R., Koval, O. and Chromjakova, F. (2018) ‘A review of critical success factors for the successful implementation of Lean Six Sigma and Six Sigma in manufacturing small and medium sized enterprises’, Quality Engineering, 30(3), pp. 453-468.

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