Frequently Asked Questions
We've gathered answers to some common questions. Please call us (306-551-8387) or click to email LTS if you have a question we haven't answered here.
What is Lean?
'Lean' is not an acronym but rather a name for a quality improvement process designed to make your work day easier. It is a practical way of improving processes and can be applied to all activities of an organization. It improves flow by assessing the value achieved from each step in the process and eliminating any steps that do not add value for the customer, thereby removing avoidable waste.
What is Six Sigma?
Six Sigma is a business management strategy originally developed by Motorola. Six Sigma seeks to improve the quality of outputs by identifying and removing the causes of errors (defects) and minimizing variability and decision points. Lean Six Sigma thinking states "there is always an easier, simpler way to do our work".
Who is LTS Consulting?
LTS Consulting is a Canadian quality improvement company that specializes in developing quality programs, building organizational internal capacity through training, and implementing Quality Improvement.
LTS has deep experience in healthcare including acute care, long-term care and physician practices but has also worked in industries such as agriculture, service and manufacturing.
Where do I start? What do I do first?
To begin on a Lean Six Sigma journey there must first be an understanding of that beginning. Evaluate the current state of the organizations processes and then decide where the end goal is, what will constitute success and where improvements are needed.
LTS can provide both the beginning evaluation and help the organization identify and articulate the goals. Our custom designed programs will give you the tools and training required to bridge that gap from start to finish and achieve the desired outcomes.
How many people need to be trained in my organization? And at what level?
This will depend on the results the organization is looking to achieve. LTS recognizes that all organizations are not at the same starting point or all wishing to reach the same end goal. LTS custom designs a training program that will meet these unique needs.
What are the levels of training?
Some organizations are uncomfortable using the technical titles that originated in Lean Six Sigma from the manufacturing sector so the courses can be renamed or customized but generally we use the following levels:
Why would a health organization or region want to use the Lean Six Sigma methodology?
In spite of the best efforts by health care staff, many organizations or regions are not able to consistently deliver the timeliest care possible. This is often because processes have not changed or changed at the rate needed to best meet the needs of those utilizing the services. Lean Six Sigma methodologies are adaptable to being put into use while the processes continue to function and deliver care. We like to say it is like changing the fan belt on a running motor. Results are delivered within a 120 day cycle so staff begins to feel and see positive change in a relatively short time frame, driving motivation to continue to improve.
Healthcare has patients and/or residents, why does LTS talk about the customer? It's true that Lean originated in the manufacturing sector but Lean applies to any function whether the production of parts or provision of a service or care. Lean thinking goes beyond the bottom line and is fundamentally a human system that is customer focused and customer driven; wherein employees within the workplace and those who interact with the organization including patients or residents, are also customers.
What are the most common mistakes in implementing Lean?
Lean should never be seen as a tool for removing employees or gratuitous cutting of budgets. While the primary purpose of Lean is to create value through elimination of waste, the purpose of eliminating waste should be reallocation of productive resources to new value-creating work.
The scope of initial projects can sometimes be too large. Limiting the initial project to reasonable boundaries better insures success. One of the most difficult challenges is the degree to which individual lean success will invariably uncover new problems and greater challenges. In this regard it is important to have a leader/mentor with deep knowledge and a basis for thinking on close observation of the work itself, not one compliant to the process.
Finally it is important to resist the impulse to implement individual lean tools without understanding of the system into which they fit. This can be difficult to avoid as many tools, like 5S, deliver immediate results. But ultimately it is important lean teams understand the purpose behind the tools or their value will be lost.