Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Mark O. George is the author of this no-nonsense guide to using Lean Six Sigma within an organization. Originally published in 2010, this book is just as useful now as it was when it first released.
In the books forward, the author talks about his many years of Six Sigma experience. He talks about the popularity of continuous improvement, even stating “In the past decade, continuous improvement, including Lean, Six Sigma, and Lean Six Sigma, has reached unprecedented levels of acceptance. In fact, about 50 percent of Fortune 500 companies and over 80 percent of Fortune 100 companies (according to AVR Associates, Ltd, 2009), as well as government entities such as the U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, and multiple federal and state agencies have active Lean Six Sigma or similar programs.”
The author uses the first chapter of the book to discuss why
you should use lean six sigma to reduce cost.
This is a departure from many books, which use the first few chapters as
a history lesson. This book is written
for any skill-level; however, it’s clear that people with some process
improvement or business skills will benefit the most. We think this chapter is summed up best with
this statement: “The correlation between speed and cost—both at a process level
and at an enterprise level—is a powerful concept and one that has provided a competitive
advantage to manufacturing and services companies alike.” The author also includes a spotlight section
that explains exactly how the book should be used. This is a small addition but a valuable one
since many practitioners carry a reference book with them at all times during a
The second chapter is about ways to find cost reduction opportunities in waste. It’s clear that the author intends to focus on Lean methods heavily in this book. On page 26 he states, “Wastes = Costs = Opportunities - When wastes are properly identified and measured as costs, the appropriate sequence of improvements becomes apparent. Lean Six Sigma counters these process costs with improvements at the root-cause level, focusing on high-cost wastes first. This chapter is designed to help you recognize process waste: the seven common types of waste spelled out in Lean.” The chapter focuses on the cost reduction opportunities associated with cutting waste and inefficiencies and how Six Sigma helps eliminate variation and drive priority improvements across the business. TIMWOOD, the common acronym is describing the seven common wastes (Transportation, Inventory, Motion, Waiting, Overproduction, Overprocessing, Defects).
The 3rd chapter is where the author introduces ‘Use the Voice of the Customer to Identify Cost-Cutting Opportunities’. VoC is a big area of concentration within MSI, so we always review the Voice of the Customer sections of books carefully. The author chose to co-author this section of the book with Ken Feldman; Two experts are better than one. This book does an excellent job at detailing VoC and how it should be used. While discussing customer value-add they state “Over the past few decades, businesses have embraced the philosophy that ‘‘quality begins and ends with the customer’’—meaning that only customers know what they really need and whether or not the business has met or exceeded those needs. Never is that notion more important than when you’re engaged in a project to reduce costs. Knowledge of customers is essential to make sure your resources are focused on delivering what they need, and that when making changes to reduce costs, you don’t inadvertently cut something that will hurt you in the long run (via customer dissatisfaction).”
The last chapter we’ll mention is chapter 5, Measure Process Efficiency - Finding the Levers of Waste Reduction. Here the author focuses on two main concepts, Process Cycle Efficiency (PCE) and Process Lead Time (PLT). You’re walked through the basic concepts like how to calculate PCE [PCE = 100 x (Value-Add Time) / PLT] with examples.