Lean Six Sigma: Are You and Your Vendors Sufficiently Focused on Process Improvement?


Every commercial enterprise employs processes in its day-to-day operations, from a manufacturer that produces widgets to a service provider who provides professional advice. Some of these processes may lead to Aristotle’s version of excellence, while other processes fall measurably short. The more streamlined and simplified its process, the more efficiently and effectively an organization delivers its goods or services. The improvement of commercial processes can decrease labor costs, shorten work in process cycles, improve cash flow, and enhance the quality of goods and services by minimizing variability.

Manufacturers have long grasped the importance of process improvement. Toyota developed the Toyota Production System (TPS), which focuses on minimizing inconsistency and eliminating waste. TPS helped Toyota grow into a preeminent manufacturer with a brand recognized for its quality. The Lean Six Sigma process improvement methodology, which is patterned after TPS and the kaizen philosophy upon which it’s based, was widely adopted by other manufacturers beginning in the 1980s.

Originally published in Washington Bankers Association’s (WBA) Issues and Answers on August 27, 2014.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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