Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions

Module 3 Discussion: Voice of the Customer

Discussion Board: Voice of the Customer

What is one method that you have used to gather the voice of the customer (VOC)? What were the strengths and weaknesses of that method for gathering VOC information?


  • Submit your initial post of at least 250 words by the due date at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Lean Six Sigma

Defining Value Topic


In this lecture, we will discuss defining value. It’s a critical concept of Lean, however, its often an underemphasized aspect of Lean.

How Do We Define Value?

We define value by studying our process from start to finish to understand where the problems occur. By thoroughly understanding where the problems exist in the process, we can focus on wasteful non-value add activities that lead to many of these problems. In Lean, we can identify and eliminate waste by focusing on activities that are considered non- value add or waste. We can accomplish the identification of waste by performing the following:

• DOWNTIME – identify any waste throughout the process • Waste walks – perform observation to go and see the waste for ourselves

The tools of Lean tend to be internally focused, and that’s the strength. We can focus on processes that we have control over. Lean is appealing to management because:

• We save time • We save money

With Lean, the goals of management are to save money and speed up processes. However, the important work is to focus on the customer first. We must understand the customer requirement in order to deliver value. If we lose the focus on value and forget what is meaningful to the customer, even though we eliminate waste, we can still go out of business.

We can still deliver value with a lot of waste in the process, but it will cost much more to deliver. If you do not deliver value, everything you do is waste.

For a Lean effort to be effective, you must focus on defining value and eliminating waste in everything you do such as reduction in the amount of transport, elimination of excess stores of inventory and wasteful employee motion.

Lean Six Sigma

The Voice of the Customer

Needs of the Customer

Determining the needs of the customer is a fundamental requirement for Six Sigma. In order to meet their needs, first we must understand the customer requirement. Needs of the customer are the most basic problems that customers are trying to solve. In order to satisfy the needs of the customer, we may eliminate waste or redesign the process once we understand the requirement. It may include the following examples:

• People get hungry, so they need a place to eat • When people travel, they need shelter • Companies need electronic document storage • Companies/people need Internet access • In healthcare, patients need blood transfusions • Clients need to save for their retirement • Clients need mortgages

The needs of the customer could be problems within their process or requirements in order to produce the product or service such as the following:

• New problems are introduced • External pressures are now surfacing • New competition is entering the market • Customers’ awareness and understanding of products, markets, or competitors have just

changed • New needs have been introduced


Requirements could be presented as features, characteristics, or needs that customers define in order to produce products and services.

Requirements can be identified as a result of product specifications, service guidelines, hours of operation, machine limitations, number of employees, and the number of shifts. There may be constant updates to the product or service based on changing needs so products and processes will also need to change in order to meet those customer expectations.

Lean Six Sigma

Examples of Needs vs. Requirements Here are some examples that highlight the differences between needs and requirements:

• Need: People need to eat • Requirement: Person wants a fresh salad with fruit and without nuts

• Need: Company needs to purchase and install electronic document storage • Requirement: Company needs three terabytes of storage and automatic backup

• Need: Patient needs a blood transfusion • Requirement: A+ blood delivered in sterile conditions with anxiety management

to combat nervousness

Obtaining the Voice of the Customer If either a need or a requirement, here are five common techniques for obtaining the voice of the customer, each with their own pros and cons.

1. Interviews and Focus Groups

Interviews or focus groups require an assigned company representative to ask prescribed questions to current or potential customers. The answer is important, and documentation of all details discussed is critical. Here are a few pros and cons:


• You’ll receive first-hand knowledge of nonverbal cues like body language and tone

• Questions can be clarified • Unfiltered responses will be received


• Interviews are relatively expensive both in money and time • Unable to reach, connect or interview all customers • Requires a skilled interviewer; if your company does not have a skilled

interviewer, then you may have to subcontract it out • Must watch for focus group motives; customers may not always answer truthfully,

or they may answer in ways that provide a personal advantage

Lean Six Sigma

2. Surveys

Surveys are used to collect information by sending out a questionnaire to a large sample of customers either paper or electronic. Here are a few pros and cons:


• Inexpensive • Gain a lot of information relatively quickly • Gain both quantitative and qualitative data


• Results are not verifiable • Response rates are relatively low • Responses may not be representative of a random sample

3. Market Research

Market research uses a company’s internal data as well as industry data to understand products, customer needs, services, and competitor information.

Often third parties will provide market research solutions because their specialty is complex data analysis.

Examples of inputs into market research:

• The market demographics of an area • Customer specifications of similar products • The margins of your competition compared to your company • Customer service index, or CSI

Examples of outputs of market research:

• Sales forecasts • Sensitivity analysis that show how much a particular feature of a product or

service relates to sales or profitability • Advertising budget


• Large amounts of quantitative data • Gain industry data that may not be accessible to your company

Lean Six Sigma


• Very expensive • Usually requires third-party consultants to do the analysis who may not

understand your firm

4. Customer Complaints

Customer complaints use customer dissatisfaction data to determine common problems customers face with a product or service; they gather this data from sources such as:

• Returned product information • Customer letters • Customer phone calls

Companies may have customer management systems that are used to collect and track customer complaints; however, this information may not be current or may not always be captured or completed.


• Gain very specific feedback on needs and requirements that are not met


• Reactive: you must wait until there is a problem before understanding the data • Difficult to manage, document, track and analyze

5. Observations

Going to the Gemba or the place where the work is taking place can be valuable. Observations provide the most unfiltered and valuable data regarding customer needs and requirements.


• Observing problems that customers may not recognize as problems • Unfiltered data • Observe nonverbal cues


• Very expensive

Lean Six Sigma

• Takes a lot of time • Must schedule time with the operators in advance

Example of data observations When implementing a new electronic storage software for videos, an employee was asked how she liked the new software. She said she loved it, and it was easy to use. When the interviewer observed the worker using the software, it was discovered that she was only using a portion of the software’s capabilities. She expressed to the interviewers that parts of the software took too long to work through the prompts.

Lean Six Sigma

Voice of the Customer – Data Observation


This lecture will discuss the roles that data analysis and observation play in Lean and in Six Sigma. It will also explain why both are ultimately needed.

Data Collection and Analysis vs. Observation

Data collection and analysis can be done from a distance. The benefit of data analysis is that someone sitting at a computer thousands of miles away from where these data were originally generated can complete this work.

Observation requires a representative to witness the process. With today’s technology, we can observe the process from a distance with Skype or other technologies.

Data Observation and Lean

Lean tools and techniques are focused on observation. This means we will go to the place where the work is happening and ask questions that will clarify the process. This is a Lean concept, which suggests that nobody should say how to change a process until they have observed it long enough to truly understand it.

Valuable data can be collected while observing. This data tend to be somewhat biased because the observer and the collector are the same and are focused on one process. However, it is not without

Lean Six Sigma

value. Observation also increases interactions with value-adding employees.

Data Analysis and Six Sigma

Six Sigma tools and techniques that focus on data analysis include:

• Statistically valid surveys • Statistical techniques to analyze • Observation to detect variation in the process

Whereas Lean observes to eliminate waste, Six Sigma is more focused on analysis and elimination of variation in data.

Integrating Systems

Both systems are needed and serve as a matter of importance.

The process of observation illustrates the following:

• Variation within the method or process may not show up immediately in the data

• Interactions with the people that contribute value or provide non-value activities in the Gemba

• The rationale to eliminate waste and create flow

Data analysis (statistical techniques) provide the following:

• Reveals any variation in data that may not be observable with the eye

• Provides a scientific way to analyze and drive out variation • Helps to reduce common cause variation

Lean Six Sigma

Observation in the area of focus will assist the team identify and eliminate assignable cause variation by firsthand data analysis. Observation of the process assists to drive out common cause variation and make overall distribution more narrow.

Lean Six Sigma

Voice of the Customer – Identifying Value


In this session, we will look at value, as it is defined by Lean Six Sigma. We discussed value by ensuring the following criteria have been met:

1. The form or function of a product or process is changed if necessary 2. It should be right the first time 3. We should know for certain what the customer is and is not willing to pay


Value must be identified at every level of the process from the largest organizational function to the smallest activity on the front lines. Where is the value and where is the waste?

Ask the Right Questions

In order to assess value, the following questions must be asked:

• Where is the value in a particular step of a given procedure? • When is machinery being used? What are the parameters? • When are data being entered? • When are services being delivered?

Value is identified as steps in the process:

• Is there value in the beginning steps of the process? • Is there value in the middle of the process? • Where is the value at the end of the process?

We will also look for value at the organizational level. Does this process generate value for the customer or are there entire processes that do not generate any value? You must also be sure to think about separating true value-add from non-value add. What is the impact on the customer based on our three criteria?

Lean Six Sigma

Critical to Quality Characteristics (CTQ)

Once we define value, we can verify Critical to Quality (CTQ) characteristics. CTQ are measurable characteristics defined by the customer. Once we understand customer requirements, we can then put processes in place to satisfy each one of those requirements. We will collect data and monitor metrics linked to each requirement that will ensure the process is consistently operating as intended. In order to define CTQ the following questions must be clarified:

1. What are the customer requirements? 2. What processes do we put in place to ensure each customer requirement is

being met? 3. What metrics will we collect to verify each of the processes are working as


Lean Six Sigma

Types of Waste

Introduction When discussing waste for lean six sigma, there are 3 (three) categories of relevant activities or process steps. These categories are:

• Value-added • Non-value-added but required • Non-value-added

For a process step or activity to be differentiated as value-added, the following three criteria must be met:

• There must be a change in the form or function of the product or service

• The customer must be willing to pay for it • It must be done right the first time

The criterium, “the customer must be willing to pay for it”, refers to the value added to the product or service and the customer’s willingness to pay the cost associated with the process steps and/or activities needed to create the product, service, or any portion of these.

Non-Value-Added but Required Activities that are non-value-added but required do not meet all three criteria for being value-added and are required by our customer or our industry. If the process, step, or activity is not value-added, it is either non-value added but required or non-value added. Examples of non-value-added requirements

• Inspections where the customer requires inspection reports • Regulatory registration, audits and compliance in regulated industries

o Food and drug administration (fda)

Lean Six Sigma

o Federal aviation administration (faa) • Third party certifications (iso)

If a process step or activity is not value added but necessary, it is categorized as non-value added. non-value steps or activities are called pure waste, or muda in japanese. Japanese classify 3 types of waste:

• Muda = futility; uselessness; wastefulness • Muri = unreasonableness; impossible; beyond one’s power; too

difficult. By force; perforce; forcibly; compulsorily; excessiveness. immoderation

• Mura = unevenness; irregularity; lack of uniformity; nonuniformity; inequality

We will focus on pure waste, or muda. Waste can run between 20 and 40% of revenues in a typical organization. we use the acronym downtime to remind us of the 8 forms of waste. They are:









Lean Six Sigma

We will examine the eight forms of waste in detail during upcoming sessions. Please remember that some forms of waste are more applicable to manufacturing, while others apply equally well to service environments.

Lean Six Sigma


Introduction It is now time to discuss the “D” in “DOWNTIME” – “defects.” This is the first type of waste. Defects are the most detrimental form of waste. Many of these defects are as a result of overproduction.

What Is a Defect? In lean, we define defects based on customer needs and requirements. Any product that does not have characteristics that the customer requested or doesn’t function in the intended manner is a defect. Any service that’s not provided in the manner or timeliness expected by the customer is a defect. Defects are defined by the customer. The customer can be internal or external. An internal customer is inside your organization and the external customer is the ultimate customer who pays for the goods or services. if it needs to be done or touched again, it was defective. That includes anything from making a minor adjustment to complete scrapping and reproducing a product or service. Remember one of the criteria in the value definition is “done right the first time.” There can be defects in the:

• characteristics that the customer requested • Size of product • Weight of product

Lean Six Sigma

• Color of product • intended function of the product

Any service that is not provided in the manner or timeliness expected by the customer is defective. A simple rule to remember is, if a product needs to be done or touched again, it was defective. Defects are the most costly form of waste. If you must discard or redo a product or service, there are several associated costs including:

• The cost of raw materials • The cost of labor to produce the product or provide the service • Customers may be lost because they are tired of waiting for

their order stuck in the scheduling queue

Labor to Produce The costs to produce defects have been expended with no resulting customer revenue. it costs just as much to make a defect as it costs to produce something good. Instead of making a defect, which we can’t sell, we could have used the time to make something good that we could then realize revenues and profit. Employees are paid to do a job, and this means to produce. If no production occurs, waste in time and money will occur. This particularly applies to services. Often 75 percent of a company’s costs can be Labor. Time for people to do work is expensive, especially if they do not achieve a product or service that can be used for these expenses.

Lean Six Sigma

Hidden Costs Think about some of the hidden costs in defects. A good example of this would be one’s electricity or computer systems.

Opportunity Costs Think about lost opportunity costs. While you are rebuilding a product or redoing a service for the first customer, there is often a second customer waiting for you. And they are waiting because you are still Serving the first customer.

Causes of Defects Some typical causes of defects include:

• Processes incapable of meeting customer expectations • Variation in work processes • Poor training or no training • Poorly maintained facilities • Compromised quality at the expense of speed

Conclusion In lean, we spend a lot of effort trying to do things faster in order to reduce costs. However, there is a caution needed here. Have we gained anything if as a result of increased speed, we produce defects? We may

Lean Six Sigma

increase speed but as a result we may end up with defects and increased, not decreased, costs.

Lean Six Sigma


Introduction The “o” in the acronym “DOWNTIME” stands for “overproduction.” Waste, in this case, is making more than what’s needed, making things sooner than they are needed, or making things faster than they are needed. Of course, overproduction applies to services as well as manufacturing. We discussed defects as one of the most costly forms of waste. Some waste, however, leads to other forms of waste and overproduction fits in this category. As a result, it is considered by many to be the “greatest” of all wastes. For example:

• Overproduction can lead to more defects if there are quality issues

• Overproduction results in increased inventory • Overproduction results in waiting before the next order can be


Causes the phrase “just in case” is often used to justify overproduction. “just in case” of what?

• “just in case” we have quality problems • “just in case” we have scrap

Lean Six Sigma

• “just in case” we have unplanned downtime • And the list of “just in case” goes on

Costs The costs associated with overproduction include:

• Labor costs to make more than needed • Transporting, storing, and retrieving excess material • Carrying costs of inventory

Lean Six Sigma


Introduction The “w” in the acronym “DOWNTIME” stands for “waiting.” the waste of waiting is idle time where no value-added activities occur. We experience waiting in manufacturing and in service environments, where it may even be more common. waiting has major cost impacts and other negative implications, including:

• lost sales • customer dissatisfaction • low employee morale • increased inventory

Causes • Unreliable equipment

o Mechanical failures o Poor maintenance o Employee training

• Uneven workloads across process steps o Imbalance of tasks from one process step to the next. If one

process step takes 5 minutes and the next takes 2 minutes, the second process step will need to wait 3 minutes.

• Batch processing is when large quantities of work are all processed together

Lean Six Sigma

o Downstream process steps must be supplied in batches from upstream process steps. They need to wait until the batch is ready.

o What happens if a quality issue is discovered downstream? Everyone must wait until the quality issue has been resolved in the system and the system is refilled.

Conclusion This course, you will learn about lean tools such as total productive maintenance (tpm), standard work, and one-piece flow that will help you to minimize the waste caused by waiting.

Lean Six Sigma

Non-Utilized Talent

Introduction We are now at the “N” in our acronym, “DOWNTIME.” It stands for “non-utilized talent.” Non-utilized talent is when highly skilled workers perform low-scale work. Originally, there were only seven forms of waste; non-utilized talent was added recently as the eighth waste.

Cost A major cost to the organization from non-utilized talent includes unmotivated employees, resulting in increased turnover

• It often costs 33% of an employee’s salary to replace them. On average, this costs $15,000 per employee replaced.

• Additionally, you may have to use overtime to cover for employees who leave while they are being replaced, which can take months.

• Another cost from non-utilized talent is not taking advantage of employees’ expertise, knowledge and experience to improve the organization.

Causes Waste from non-utilized talent can be caused by:

• Convenience – we use available people for low level tasks not considering their higher skill level

• Poor personnel scheduling

Lean Six Sigma

• Poor human resource policies and practices • Poor leadership

Types of Waste Non-utilized talent consists of:

• Employees working below their knowledge, experience and skill level

• Not soliciting input from the employees who know the most about the process

Conclusion Having employees involved in lean activities can lessen the waste caused by non-utilized talent.

Lean Six Sigma


Introduction The “T” in the acronym “DOWNTIME” stands for “Transportation.” Transportation waste results from excess movement of product or information from place to place. It is a related, but slightly different waste from motion. Motion waste is when we, as employees or associates, are moving to get to the place where value is added. In this instance, waste is in how we conduct the movement, i.e. straightforward and with as little unnecessary movement as possible. To remove transportation waste, ask the question:

• Why are the value-added steps not consecutive? o By removing the transportation step, would the process go

directly to the next value-added operation?

Cost What are the costs associated with transportation waste?

• All the equipment and infrastructure needed to move product and information around

• The cost of maintaining the equipment and infrastructure • The space needed to store the equipment • The labor associated with the transportation waste

Lean Six Sigma


Some causes of transportation waste are:

• Poor facility layout • Overproduction • Excessive inventory

Conclusion Later in this course, you will learn about cellular design or cellular layout to address poor facility layout. We already discussed overproduction and will focus on inventory waste in the next session.

Lean Six Sigma


Introduction In the acronym “downtime” the “i” stands for “inventory.” inventory waste is the storage of more information, or more material than is needed in order to satisfy customer demand. Inventory is materials awaiting further processing or consumption; as a result, it’s often overlooked as a waste. Inventory is also the money the system has invested in purchasing things it intends to sell.

Cost What costs are a result of inventory waste?

• Inventory carrying costs can be as high as 25% of the value of the inventory annually

• Obsolescence of inventory • The cost of maintaining the equipment and infrastructure to

transport inventory • The space needed to store the inventory • The labor associated with the transporting of inventory

Causes Some causes of inventory waste are: • Overproduction • Batch processing

Lean Six Sigma

Conclusion In module 5, flow and pull, you will learn about an alternative to batch processing called pull, or one-piece flow. This processing method will greatly reduce inventory. As you know, this is beneficial in that overproduction has negative effects on inventory.

Lean Six Sigma


Introduction “m” stands for “motion” in the acronym “downtime.” Motion waste is “death by a thousand cuts.” It is small movements that don’t add value – “-ing” words such as reaching, stepping, bending, grasping, looking, walking, etc. We waste time every day with these simple little motions.

Motion vs. Transportation Motion and transportation wastes are similar. What is the difference?

• Motion: small movements within a work area with the intent to add value to the product o Small routine people movements within a work area in the

course of doing a job

• Transportation: large movements with the intent of relocating materials or reaching another destination o Encompasses large movements with the intent of

relocating materials or people reaching another destination

Cost What costs result from excessive motion?

• Wasted time. Even a few, seemingly insignificant, seconds here and there multiplied by the number of employees adds up to big dollars over the course of a day, a week, a month or a year. Five seconds an hour of wasted motion for ten employees equates to

Lean Six Sigma

867 hours per year. Wasted time can amount to 25% of an employee’s time.

• Excessive motion can result in repetitive motion injuries such as sprains, stress injuries, and even carpal tunnel injuries, which are caused by repeated movements that overextend your wrist. The costs of these injuries include medical treatment, worker’s compensation claims, and overtime to replace the injured employee.

Causes Some causes of excessive motion include:

• Poor workplace layout that requires excessive walking, reaching and bending to do the work. Ideally, we want things to be at arm’s length and at the person’s height to avoid walking, reaching, or bending.

• Centrally located materials and supplies that people need to go get or go use. How far to you need to go to retrieve materials from a central printer?

• poorly organized electronic files. Do you spend a lot of time

searching for computer files or an email?

• Inefficient work methods with non-value added steps


Lean Six Sigma

A good lean tool to analyze and eliminate the waste due to motion is a spaghetti map, which you will learn about in module 5, flow and pull.

Lean Six Sigma

Extra Processing Introduction The eighth and final form of waste is extra processing. It is the E In the acronym DOWNTIME. Extra processing is anytime that we do more than what was asked or paid for, when we repeat steps or do rework, anytime we inspect or check or verify, or when we duplicate information or effort. We talked about inspection when we discussed non-value added but required or necessary steps or activities. There are times when inspection is required, but it does not meet the criteria for value added; so, it is always considered waste due to extra processing. A well-designed and validated process should be robust enough to produce a product or service that yields acceptable results. We should not need inspection to tell us that. NOTE: Companies may have legacy processes, meaning designed and developed years before customer requirements were established or incorporated into the process, or regulatory requirements were mandated. In order to avoid the cost of redesign and validation, companies use testing to ensure compliance. Also, some companies utilize in-line/in-place automated inspection and/or testing. And yes, there are costs associated with these remedial actions. Generally, it comes down to a cost/benefit analysis for the business. However, when new equipment is purchased or facilities are updated, there is an opportunity to for removal of extra processing steps or activities.

Lean Six Sigma

Cost What costs are a result of extra processing?

Spending any time on something the customer is not willing to pay for only increases our labor cost, and increasing our labor cost does not allow us to charge more money. The customer is only paying us to do it right the first time.

• Additional equipment and tools needed to measure, inspect, and verify.

• Hiring more employees to do inspections. o Quality Assurance departments.

• Costs associated with extra processing versus scrapping noncompliant parts. o Example: An organization spends dollars in order to save a

part that costs cents. • Time spent looking for computer files that are not where they are

supposed to be or are not located in one easily accessible place.

Causes Some causes of extra processing waste?

• Not understanding customer requirements. • Process not capable of producing acceptable products or services. • Process produces defects. • Process has too much variation. • Non-value-added process steps.

Lean Six Sigma

• Deburring, or trimming. o Sometimes there are entire departments associated with

deburring the parts. o Why do we allow it to come off that equipment with a

defect on it? • Rework

o How do we have time and effort to remake a part instead of making it correctly the first time?

• Excess or duplicate information on computers and in-service organizations o Makes it difficult to locate items. o People might be working on a document simultaneously if it

is saved in multiple places.

Conclusion Now that we have described the eight forms of waste and the costs associated with each, you can easily see how the cost of waste can account for 20 to 40% of revenues in our organizations. It adds up quickly.

Lean Six Sigma

Compound Waste and Repurposed Waste Introduction Forms of waste do not always operate singularly. One form of waste can result in one or more other forms of waste. So, I not only have the primary waste, but I also have secondary forms of waste. We call this compound waste. Two of the common examples of compound waste are overproduction and transportation waste.

Overproduction Compound waste

• Inventory: The material that was overproduced needs to be stored.

• Defects: If the process produces defects, they are in the overproduction.

• Transportation: The material will need to be moved at least once – and probably more than once.

• Waiting: Customer is waiting for their order in the scheduling queue.

Costs associated with overproduction and compound waste:

• Material in inventory may become lost or obsolete. • Inventory carrying costs. • Material can be damaged during transportation.

Lean Six Sigma

• Lost opportunity cost. Could have made something that could have been sold now.

• Labor for producing unneeded goods or services and transporting them.

Transportation Compound waste

• Defects: Material could be damaged during transportation. • Waiting: Someone is probably waiting for it to be moved.

Costs associated with transportation and compound waste • Labor and equipment for transportation. • Someone could get injured during transportation. • Material could get lost. • Time wasted due to waiting.

Repurposed Waste • Sometimes, what starts out as waste can be repurposed into

something useful. • It can possibly be reworked, downgraded, or discounted. • Remember, though, if it was reworked, we put additional

expense into it. • We can possibly recover some value from the material, but

our revenue will be lower; and our costs will be higher so our profits margin will be lower.

Lean Six Sigma

• It may be better than throwing the material away, but it is hardly a strategy for success. It is far better to use Lean tools to help us not to produce the waste in the first place.

Is Waste the Customer Will Pay for Value-Added? So, some people will ask, “What if the customer is willing to pay for it?” “It” refers to overproduction, waiting, transportation, inventory, extra processing, or any steps or activities meeting the definition of WASTE. Well, what is the definition of value-added?

• We are physically changing the process object, or, in the case of a service, we are adding the ability or the value that I am going to deliver in the service.

• I am doing it right the first time. • The customer is willing to pay for it.

The fact that the customer is willing to pay for it alone does not make it value-added. It must meet all three criteria.

Lean Six Sigma

Going to Gemba

Gemba Definition As you study lean six sigma, you will learn the value of going to gemba. As a lean practitioner or lean sensei, much of the impact you have will be the result of going to gemba to study and understand how a process works, as well as what the improvement opportunities are. So let’s start by defining gemba.

• According to lean production simplified, gemba is: • The real place or the specific place. • The shop floor and other areas where work is done.

Lean lexicon (source is lean enterprise institute) adds: “the term often is used to stress that real improvement requires a shop-floor focus based on direct observation of current conditions where work is done. For example, standardized work for a machine operator cannot be written at a desk in the engineering office, but must be defined and revised on the gemba.”

Linking Gemba and the 8 Wastes The 8 wastes are foundational to the lean body of knowledge. Having a strong understanding of the 8 wastes is also critical to being objective and constructive when observing and studying processes in the gemba. As a refresher, the 8 wastes are:

• Defects • Over-production • Waiting • Non-utilized human talent • Transportation • Inventory • Motion • Extra-processing

Lean Six Sigma Seeing the 8 wastes is a “learned skill” that must be kept sharp. There is no better place to observe and study the wastes than in gemba. Once you see the waste, you can begin to see improvement opportunity.

Setting the Tone Going to gemba is important in any company and in any industry, whether at the beginning or at a very mature and advanced stage of lean. However, going to gemba is especially valuable for companies that have begun their lean journeys and have gained initial momentum and successes. They likely have pockets of application and some advocates, but naysayers may outnumber supporters, while lofty expectations for rapid returns drive unpredictable behavior. “hooray!” To these companies, but now comes the hard work to make the significant and lasting impact through lean. One way to get traction is to demonstrate a deep understanding of lean by example. People in superior positions can exercise leverage across and through their organizations. The questions these people ask will set the tone for the pace and sincerity of their lean implementations. Their questions do set the tone. Two techniques to help set the tone and make your gemba walks most productive are:

• Muda walk • Walkabout sheet

Muda Walk The muda walk is a structured way to go to gemba with a purpose. That purpose is to specifically see the 8 wastes. This can be done formally as part of a kaizen event (combine learning and current state data gathering), as an exercise in a problem-solving team, or informally where you grab your boss, or peers, or some other interested party to go to gemba to observe and study the 8 wastes. It is best to use a muda walk form for data collection and to provide structure and focus. The muda walk form is simply a regular 8 ½” x 11” piece of paper with three columns and eight

Lean Six Sigma rows. In column 1, you should list the 8 wastes (one per row). Column 2 is space to record at least two examples of the waste in the row. Column 3 is space to identify the impact that the waste in that row will have on the operations or process. A good lean practitioner will always have blank muda walk forms ready to go at a moment’s notice. Conduct the muda walk in small break-out groups of approximately three people. Provide approximately 30 minutes so the break-out groups can explore and observe deeply. Encourage the people to discuss what they are seeing but be sure they record what they see on the muda walk form. Here are some tips to make the muda walk experience constructive. Be sure to be non- judgmental and non-blaming. This is not about finding who messed up. Rather it is about understanding processes and work. Another tip is to be sensitive to the people who may be working in the process you are observing. May be a good idea to introduce yourself and explain that you are on a muda walk. Tip #3 is to be patient enough to stand in one place and really observe. That is very hard for most of us! Finally, have a debrief session with the muda walk teams. Let them share with the larger group. If this is done as part of a formal kaizen event or problem-solving project, then the muda walk effectively serves as part of the current state documentation.

Walkabout Sheet One technique to set tone is a core set of questions that are appropriate for the level or function. These questions can demonstrate willingness to learn, openness for facts, curiosity, and commitment. Each is essential to making the most of going to gemba. Armed with core set of questions, the person going on the gemba walk (particularly leaders) can establish expectations and demonstrate consistency of purpose. This will break down barriers, weaken influence of the anchor-draggers, and reinforce behavior of people who are on board with the lean journey. People going on gemba walks should have a purpose and know what they are looking for. Management, in particular, can enhance its credibility by having structure in the gemba walk. The “walkabout sheet” provides an example of structure. Eight to ten relevant questions are a good starting point.

Lean Six Sigma Example questions for a plant manager might include:

1. What are highlights on the production control board? How is the cell performing? 2. Are upstream and downstream operations in sync with cell? 3. Do visual controls indicate priorities, what is being worked on, how operation should be

performed, where materials/tools should be located, etc.? 4. What was the actionable outcome of daily sunrise meeting in cell today? 5. Is cell properly staffed according to takt time and cycle time?

Example questions for a process engineer or technician might include:

1. What can i do to help you (the operator)? 2. Am i seeing the whole process instead of just components of the process? 3. How can i help the front-line employees to understand va and nva? 4. Where are the constraints, as demonstrated by takt time / cycle time chart? 5. Can i do your job for the next hour so i can better understand the details of this

operation? As regards the walkabout sheet, the following observations help in understanding why the walkabout sheet might be a good idea:

• Questions set the tone. • If you and leadership do not set the tone, then somebody/something else will. • You’ll be surprised what you learn when you ask the questions.

  • Module 3 Topic 1 Defining ValueRD SSG110_Supplemental Defining Value Module 3.1
    • Defining Value Topic
  • Module 3 Topic 2 Voice of the CustomerRD SSG110_Supplemental Module 3.2 Voice of the Customer
  • Module 3 Topic 3 Data Observation RD SSG110_Supplemental Module 3. 3 Data Observation (VOC)
  • Module 3 Topic 4 Identifying Value RD SSG110_Supplemental Module 3. 4 Voice of the Customer-Identifying Value
    • Types of Waste
      • Introduction
        • Non-Value-Added but Required
    • Defects
      • Introduction
    • Overproduction
    • Introduction
    • Waiting
    • Introduction
    • Non-Utilized Talent
    • Introduction
    • Cost
    • Causes
    • Types of Waste
    • Conclusion
    • Transportation
    • Introduction
    • Cost
    • Causes
    • Conclusion
    • Inventory
    • Introduction
    • Motion
    • Introduction
    • Introduction
    • Cost
    • Conclusion
    • Compound Waste and Repurposed Waste
    • Introduction
    • Overproduction
    • Is Waste the Customer Will Pay for Value-Added?
  • Module 3 Topic 15 Going to Gemba