While Six Sigma originated in manufacturing, it’s common knowledge nowadays that it’s being applied in many more fields. There are even some surprising implementations of lean methodologies around us, and one doesn’t have to look too far to find some amazing examples of the possibilities that this type of thinking creates.
If you’re wondering whether Six Sigma would be suitable for your own company’s needs, the more likely answer is “yes,” no matter what type of business you’re in. As long as you can break down your work in some systematic manner to its basic components, you can apply analytical thinking to improve that work and get the most out of every second spent making your product. But if you’re still not convinced, let’s take a look at some of the more interesting examples of how Six Sigma is transforming the world around us right now.
Streamlining Public Transportation
Transportation of any kind is deeply reliant on strict logistics, and a well-developed organization has multiple backups for situations of failure, which are not uncommon when dealing with a service like this. Public transportation in particular is a very difficult area, especially in some parts of the world where its progress is hindered by issues with the local infrastructure.
A recently published study by Ümit Kuvvetli and Ali Riza Firuzan takes a deeper look into the opportunities presented by implementing Six Sigma in public transportation, and their findings support the theory that this is an area which can benefit particularly well from a proper application of lean practices.
Some of their findings might seem obvious to even an inexperienced observer, but others were more interesting – such as the idea that specialized bus drivers are necessary to handle specific routes that present unique challenges. Appropriate selection of bus types is another point that was investigated in more detail.
Building Better Employee Relations with Lean HR Departments
HR workers are traditionally seen under a suspicious light by employees, and there is typically a pretty big barrier that has to be overcome before an HR department becomes truly effective in a company’s work. There has been some analysis over this situation lately, particularly focused on lean methodologies, and the findings should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Six Sigma. HR departments can benefit a lot from applying concepts like continuous improvement and streamlining their work.
This is something more companies should look into, as it can have a profound impact on employee morale and other aspects that companies tend to struggle with on a regular basis.
Keeping the Population Healthy with Lean Healthcare
Healthcare is another field that is struggling in many parts of the world, even in more developed areas. There are some long-running problems in the way this is handled in many places, and we’ve seen some successful examples of applying lean methodologies to improve those situations.
In some more rural parts of Kansas, the structure of healthcare is a huge issue, one that local hospitals have been able to resolve with the assistance of Six Sigma Black Belt specialists. Various findings were made while analyzing the processes in the hospital, and the evaluation ended up with a significant reduction in the hospital’s expenses.
Some of the areas where spending was reduced came as a bit of a surprise. For example, the hospital was struggling with hiring and retaining candidates, but at the same time, the consultants recommended cutting down on the recruiting budget significantly. The final result was an improvement in the hospital’s financial flow, allowing them to focus better on providing an adequate working environment for the specialists they were able to draw in.
At the same time, more changes were implemented that made the hospital a more attractive working place for people with the right skills. These changes might have seemed counterproductive to someone without intricate lean experience and knowledge of how processes work, but this should serve as a bright example of why it’s so important to gain a deep understanding of this field.
These are just a few examples, but the internet is full of case studies showing that lean is working very well in many parts of the world, and in areas that are not traditionally associated with continuous improvement and systematic analysis. We are sure that the situation is only going to keep improving in this regard in the future, as many people are currently discovering the huge benefits of lean methodologies, and creatively applying them to new areas.