Another category of technique is qualitative techniques’, which rely on synergy of group input and also descriptive data gathered for interpretation analysis. This method focuses on patterns of inter-relationships between a previously unspecified set of concepts rather than statistical analysis (Brannen 1992, p.4). Moreover, quantitative techniques require less specialist knowledge compare to qualitative techniques.
Kaizen Events is a qualitative Lean technique that stands for the combination of kai, which means to take apart, and zen, which means to make good (George, 2003).
Kaizen is the key to success; it achieves long-term objectives by gradually applying small changes (Basu, 2009). It develops competitive edge, and achieves sustained improvement in productivity by applying a targeted system that focuses on quality, cost, and delivery (Environmental Protection Agency, 2006)
Quality is associated with the quality level of intermediate products (work-in- process), finished products and the processes for making the products that customer expects. It results in defect free product (Alarcon, 1997). Improving the quality can reduce the cost of the overall design, selling, servicing, producing, and not just the manufacturing cost. Delivery-on-time can also lead to decrease in cost (Moore, 2007).
In Kaizen, to maintain excellence in quality, cost and delivery, several major systems must be considered (cited from Taghizadegan, 2006):
¢Total quality control/total quality management
¢A just-in-time production system (Toyota Production System)
¢Total Productive Maintenance (TPM)
¢A suggestion system
Kaizen events are well suited for projects that require flow improvement, shorter cycle times and waste elimination. It is usually suitable for smaller areas in order to drive process improvements (Carreira et. al., 2006).
Champion has different names like Lean Six Sigma leader, quality leader or Lean Six Sigma Champion. This role is usually chosen from upper-level management or executive personnel and its main responsibility is to select individuals to be trained as Black Belts and Master Black Belt and also manage the final results and success of the projects. Other responsibilities of Champion are providing day-to-day management and direction and also assure that financial objectives of the project are identified and achieved. Design for LSS
CHAPTER FOUR: APPLICATION OF LEAN SIX SIGMA IN CONSTRUCTION
4.2 The importance of tools and techniques in Lean Six Sigma
In Lean Six Sigma process various techniques and tools are required for continuous improvement and effective problem solving. Techniques and tools are vital in Lean Six Sigma since they have many advantages. Several of these advantages are illustrated below:
¢ They aid the process initiation in the project.
¢ They identify the specific and common problems in the project.
¢ They provide basis for systematic analysis in order to obtain solution in the project.
¢ They improve team working in the project through problem solving.
¢ They provide a single set of methodology and facilitate a mindset of quality culture.
Moreover, every project requires specific technique and tools based on the objectives of the project and areas that need improvement. In order to select the appropriate techniques and tools in Lean Six Sigma, three main factors need to be considered as the flowing (cited from Dale et al. (1993), BOOK1):
1. Rigour in purpose: all tools and techniques are equally important especially if they are used together. A single tool or technique can affect limited area whereas number of appropriate tools and techniques can create sustainable benefits for the whole organization. In a particular application, specific tools or technique can be more important and appropriate, in other words the selected tools or technique must meet its major application reasons or purposes.
2. Rigour in training: Using the appropriate tools or technique is not effective without proper training and practice. In order to effectively apply tools or technique, they should be trained to all users to a level of competence.
3. Rigour in application: After selecting the appropriate tools and technique followed by adequate training, the success of the result of the application should be determined based on the problems or improvement of the process.
However, in some cases the customer might specify selection of tools and techniques in the contract. A number of tools and techniques can offer a common platform in a way that both the supplier and customer can gain benefits from improvements.
4.2.1 The problems of using tools and techniques
Complex techniques (such as Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA)) in Lean Six Sigma can face many difficulties such as detection based mentality, knowledge and understanding and resistance to change (Dale et al. (1993)). In order to effectively use tools and techniques in Lean Six Sigma, common problems can be found. Basu and Wright, 2003 states four key factors that lead to problems, these factors are (cited from BOOK1-chap3):
1. Inadequate training: Tools and techniques can be simple but they have reach detail for this reason inadequate training is one of the important factors that can cause difficulty in organization. For proper training of employees three key factors needs to be taken to consideration.
First one is technical fact transfer’ that is applied by separating technical aspect of a tool or technique followed by transferring the facts in worked out example based on a known environment of the organization. Second factor is organizational culture and education’, which is related to learning process of the users of tools or techniques. Learning process must be geared to the specific capability and culture of the organization since different users come from different level of the organization. Third and last key factor is using specialists or external consultants, which are qualified trainers for initial training. Lean Six Sigma tool and technique training can also take place by training line managers and other personnel as trainers in order to train their colleagues and obtain more sustainable training.
Continuous education and training
Education and training give a clear sense for people to better understand the fundamentals, tools, and techniques of six sigma. Training is part of the communication techniques to make sure that managers and employees apply and implement the complex six sigma techniques effectively.
2. Management commitment of resources: Management commitment of resources’ is an important factor that can lead to difficulty in using tools and techniques in Lean Six Sigma. In order to prevent such a difficulty adequate resources and top management commitment are vital.
The training and improvement activities for tools and techniques can be supported via adequate resources. Members of Senior Management are usually not sure about their expectation from tools and techniques; this can lead to inadequate availability of resources. On the other hand, the top management should have total commitment and leadership in order to be successful in utilizing the tools and techniques.
Tools and techniques can be simple but they have reach detail for this reason inadequate training is one of the important factors that can cause difficulty in organization. For proper training of employees three key factors needs to be taken to consideration.
3. Employee mindset
Another important key factor that can cause difficulty is the mindset of all the employees of a company during implementation tools and techniques. In order to achieve this a group of people that might not have worked with each other are brought together. In order to prevent the project to fail, it is vital to prevent the failure of convincing the project stockholders, which are the employees in this case of tools and techniques.
There are two approaches or models that can aid employee mindset regarding the problems of using tools and techniques.
First model is the Tuckman model of team formation that outlines after the formation of the team a set of common values or norms should be developed via members of a group.
This model states that usually project teams go through five stages as illustrated below (shown in figure X):
¢ Form: In this stage the team members come together with high anticipation and motivation.
¢ Storm: Is the stage where differences occur after the team members begin to work together. The teams’ performance drops in this stage.
¢ Norm: Is the stage where the performance level improves gradually because the team identity set of norms and values.
¢ Perform: In this stage the performance reaches a plateau because the team members motivation and effectiveness begin to enhance when they start to work together.
¢ Mourn: This stage is where the mourning stage sets in because the project is nearly ending and the future of the team is uncertain
The Knowledge-commitment matrix by McElroy and Mills (2000) is the second model that can aid mindset employee regarding the usage problems of tools and techniques. This model points out the knowledge and commitment of the employees in four quadrants (as shown in Figure X).
¢ Quadrant 1: is the support/aware part, which means supporters need to be aware of tools and techniques.
¢ Quadrant 2: is the support/ignorant section. This part points out that the support needs to be trained because it is vulnerable.
¢ Quadrant 3: This part is the oppose/ignorant area, which by combining culture and fact transfer can achieve commitment.
¢ Quadrant 4: This section is oppose/aware, which can only be supported by training the role to the employees because it is the most difficult group of employees to convert
4. Poor application of tools and techniques.
The hardest area to correct in avoiding problems of using tools and techniques is inappropriate application of tools and techniques. Poor application of tools and techniques are in result of using them for announcing departmental performance rather than identifying deficiencies for improvement. Another factor that effect the application of tools and techniques is instead of depending on the rigour of data collection, computer softwares are used. Restricting knowledge to specialists rather than relevant employees and utilizing tools and techniques to find excuses for not making changes are other factors that lead to poor application of tools and techniques.
In order to improve and sustain the business performance in the whole organization, poor application of tools and techniques must be avoided by training the employees to understand the holistic approach of using tools and techniques.