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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Basics of Lean and Six Sigma for the Laboratory. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Lean and Six Sigma are very powerful quality improvement tools, but they will only work if they are implemented appropriately. Certain factors will determine the outcome of Lean Six Sigma efforts.
  • Support and commitment of the executive management team for Lean and Six Sigma efforts
  • Understanding what resources are available prior to the start of the project
  • The amount of training received by the staff
  • Staff acceptance of Six Sigma and Lean concepts
  • The size and scope of the projects
  • Ability for management to communicate the importance of projects to staff
Without support from senior members of the management team, most of the effort will eventually lose traction. It is important for management to understand what resources (financial and human) must be available before starting any project. Trying to complete multiple projects simultaneously when a laboratory barely has enough staff to complete the normal day-to-day work, or taking on an inter-departmental project as the first project will likely result in failure and will lead to staff frustration and resentment over future projects.
There is no need to train the entire department to become Six Sigma Black Belts, but they should be trained on the basic principles before they begin participating in improvement teams. Management should include the staff in project selection as much as possible, since it is difficult for the team to perform if they do not understand the importance of the project.
Lean and Six Sigma involve commitment from everyone in the organization, from the CEO to the employees. Only when an entire organization is committed will Lean Six Sigma become an organization's philosophical approach to improvement.