Really? Your business is different?

During my thirty years of coaching and implementing Business Process Improvement (BPI), I’ve heard a lot of comments from clients within various industries about the improvement process in general. Most clients laud the economic advantages, but across the board, the most common misconception is “That doesn’t apply to us. Our business is different.”  My response is usually (in your best Arnold Schwarzenegger voice) “Stop your whining!” Ok. I don’t really say that. That would tend to lose the business. So my actual response is “Really?”

Now, I say it in a questioning tone but I’m thinking of it in the SNL Weekend Update tone of voice: as in “Are you for real?” In this day and age I’m shocked, disappointed and even angry that some companies still don’t get it! And what they don’t get is that in order for them to not only survive but prosper, they need to utilize every tool available to them. Especially the BPI tools!

The bottom line is that BPI is no longer optional and it’s not industry specific. BPI doesn’t just apply to manufacturing or service. It’s a necessity for everyone.

A corollary is that the Lean Six Sigma DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) process is also not industry specific. The process is successful, if applied, in any industry, any business: Aerospace, Telecommunications, Food Safety, Medical and many others. I’ve witnessed it work time and time again.

Table 1 is a partial list of the DMAIC deliverables by improvement phase.

Every improvement project can utilize these tools. Manufacturing and service regardless of industry.

As we read through the list we can see that all BPI projects can benefit from these tools.

All projects need to be well defined and developing a charter in the Define phase is a very effective tool to accomplish the correct definition.

Data driven projects are more successful and the tools in the Measure and Analyze phases force the team to generate and analyze the appropriate data.

Validating root causes with the tools in the Analyze phase allows the team to be confident that their solutions will make a significant difference.

Once the vital few root causes are validated it’s important to develop creative and sustainable solutions and the Improve phase tools facilitate that process.

Finally, great solutions are inadequate unless they are part of a control plan to assure they are long-lasting. The tools in the Control phase help the team sustain the gains.


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Yes, your business is different but the process to improve it is consistent regardless of your industry.

So “Get to work!”