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5 Voices to Listen for LEAN & 6 Sigma Projects

The 5 Voices 

*Voice of Customer 

*Voice of Actual Process

*Voice of Employees 

*Voice of Data

*Voice of Business 

As a consultant working with many companies over the last  20 years, there’s a common dialogue that I’ve become quite familiar with .  I start by asking the manager: why they want to run a 6  sigma or LEAN Project? Manager: To increase the profits but How?

Me: by making your customers  happy, it’s a simple answer because you want them back again , even sometimes we allow our  customers to return their goods for free; to guarantee their loyalty to our company and our products. Furthermore, we listen carefully to their comments; if defects were found and fix those defects. Manager: but you are talking about more expenses which mean more loss not profit!!! Me: Here comes the role of 6 sigma and LEAN Projects; make your customers happy by running your  process right first time. We reduce variation and eliminate

*MUDA is the Japanese word for waste. 

Manager: So you will reduce waste… Me: Wait a minute, is waste only  realized in production? No it’s at every stage even leadership; when you don’t gain the management buy-in and commitment to the  process there’s a lot of MUDA    taking place; in the form of loss of energy , material, people . Furthermore, loss of not making  decisions in the right time and working as “headless chicken”. 

In real life we fix problems one at the time but soon they come back again, it’s like having a headache and taking a pain killer rather than digging deep to treat the real illness instead of treating the symptoms. Thus Operational Excellence “OPEX” is based on getting out of your comfort zone, quit the way you do things and adopt new way that align all resources to serve the objectives  and run a successful process from first time. 

1- Voice of the Business 

Ask yourself, what keeps you awake at night. What’s your Goal? 

current leadership challenges

1- delighting customers 

2- reducing cycle time 

3- technology advances 

4- retaining people

5- reducing costs

6- responding quickly

7- flexibility 

8- growing in overseas markets

 2. Voice of the Customer

The term satisfied customers  is no longer exist , it’s replaced with delighted customers. They want it all, good price, high quality, flexibility, They want it all, good price, high quality, flexibility, fast delivery and variety etc fast delivery and variety etc….

In LEAN and 6 Sigma world, we tell our managers: you need to listen to the customer voice; What the he/she needs not what can my company offer?

 Ford a long time ago allowed customers to order any car provided it’s black and they lost a huge part of the market. Facebook addressed a certain need at the customers and succeeded tremendously. 

 3. Voice of the Actual Process

Investigate the current process including the  Upstream process at the suppliers.  

You can’t improve what you don’t measure. I say you can’t improve what you don’t see. Managers must walk the real process and go to Gemba.  

Gemba : A Japanese word for the real place work where you go and see rather than wait and listen to what others tell you. 

 4. Voice of the Employees 

More than 60 % of companies believe that there employees don’t have enough skills to deal with existing data!! 

Every company  needs to retain its competent people as a real asset. Your team /people are the ones dealing with the customers and the best channel to transfer their actual needs for the  company to maintain flexibility and grow. 

We have to listen to our people and show respect to their views of the business, this will keep them engaged and motivated. 

5. Voice of the Data

Some companies change their decision very often, without relying on the data analysis about market trends . The companies called “Flavor of the Month company” takes one decision to enter new markets and the following month; takes another decision to produce a new product. Our advice is to think of data analytics and realize the huge evolving role of technology in forecasting demand rather than predicting it. Technology nowadays help you to use more frequent performance reviews, from monthly, weekly , daily even hourly if you can.  

Thus achieving OPEX through LEAN and 6 Sigma can be applied in all sectors not only manufacturing . If you listen to the above discussed voices and implement these tools through technology, you will definitely gain a healthy effective business environment, efficient processes and delighted customers

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