Do Companies *Actually* Use Process Improvement?

Do Companies *Actually* Use Process Improvement?

By Discovery Lean Six Sigma

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Do Companies *Actually* Use Process Improvement?

Lean. Six Sigma. Project management. Business Process Management. Agile.

You’ve heard the rumors. You’ve read the propaganda. But you’re not drinking the Kool-Aid. Because “process improvement” is just another business fad – something executives and consultants like to talk about, but never actually do anything about.

Here’s a comment you might empathize with…

“Six Sigma is a complete waste; over 10 years I’ve watched as corporate ruined their on-time delivery capability and quality by instituting a ‘just in time’ inventory system as dictated by Lean manufacturing principles… if you work for a company using this crap, get the [heck] out of there. Six Sigma is a short-sighted method of management by people who can’t manage their way out of a wet paper bag!”

It’s jargon. Empty verbiage. Nonsense.

Yeah. Except it’s not.

Six Sigma and Lean have been transforming businesses for decades. They have been increasing revenue, reducing costs and stabilizing variance for organizations of all types, all over the world.

It works. And just because a handful of organizations have tried to shortcut their process improvement initiatives (or have mistaken Six Sigma’s reductive principles for other, lazier approaches to process improvement) doesn’t mean it’s wrong. The bakery down the road from you might’ve failed to follow through on process improvement initiatives, but you know who hasn’t?


Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, is a big believer in Eastern-inspired process improvement techniques. He’s flown in Japanese consultants to teach him and his leaders Lean principles like Kaizen and Andon Cords. Process improvement methodology is the cornerstone of his business, and he speaks freely and enthusiastically about it.


The multinational corporation adopted Lean principles in the late 1990s (in an effort to make their factories more hospitable for workers). Using a Lean foundation, they’re still iterating and innovating on process improvement today. From 2013 to 2015, after simplifying their manufacturing process – in an effort to focus on higher quality products with fewer factories – Nike was able to increase revenue by a staggering 20.9%.

Lockheed Martin

A few years ago, Lockheed Martin used Six Sigma strategies to strengthen its corporate sustainability. Working within the Six Sigma framework, they were able to reduce water usage and carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 20%. Total energy expenditure fell by 12%. They also reduced the physical space they were occupying, which reduced costs by more than 20%.


McKesson, the healthcare information technology juggernaut, was one of healthcare’s earliest Six Sigma adopters. On their website, they credit Six Sigma for saving them more than $100 million, improving their customer experience, and giving them a competitive cost advantage over other organizations operating in their sector.

The list could go on and on – John Deere, Bank of America, Nordstrom, Fannie Mae… these are major players in their industries, and process improvement initiatives have helped provide them with a competitive edge.

These are the organizations who have taken the time to implement process improvement properly and thoroughly. They’ve followed through on their initiatives. And they’re better for it.

The post Do Companies *Actually* Use Process Improvement? appeared first on Six Sigma Daily.

By: James LoPresti
Posted: May 29, 2018, 11:00 am

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