Lean Six Sigma Improvement through Modular Kaizen Are your employees constantly fighting fires? Are the problems one-off events or predicable consequences of the way you do business? Grace L. Duffy and John W. Moran look at using Modular kaizen so that you can put out fires while still supporting strategic, system wide process improvement.IntroductionModular kaizen  is an organizational improvement approach designed for busyworkplaces with a high level of interruptions. The tools of Modular kaizen assistimprovement teams to gather and analyze data about disruptions to expected operationsand make informed choices about returning to a stable system. Modular kaizen has beensuccessfully applied through both the traditional Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle and the more recent Lean Six Sigma (LSS) family of improvement cycles.Budgets have taken a significant hit during the recent economic downturn, causing areduction in workforce and an increase in workload to meet customer needs. This two-edged sword of forced change has encouraged an interruptive, crisis approach to dailywork. The increasing use of mobile communications has further exacerbated this short-term, “quickly-respond-to-crises” culture. Constantly responding to crises takes a toll onthe employees involved. Frequent crises increase employee stress levels by constantlypulling staff away from daily work which must be accomplished to meet long-termcustomer needs.The Modular kaizen model using the concepts of Lean and Six Sigma starts with theneed for effective change management. The Define phase of the DMAIC (Define,Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control) is used to investigate the situation to see if adisruption to the expected workflow has a special cause or whether it is a normalvariation of a standard process. Once the disruption is identified, the Limited InformationCollection Principle  guides data collection of performance measures to establish theseverity and urgency of the disruption identify who and what is impacted, and estimatethe disruption timeline. In the LSS DMAIC cycle, this monitoring is performed during the“measure” phase of the improvement process.The next step is “analysis.” Based on the data gathered in “measure,” the response teamdoes one of the following: Do nothing – continue to monitor the disruption until it has either dissipated or needs more attention. If more analysis is required, investigate by establishing a team to investigate the disruption (analyze) and report back. The information reported back to process owners is in the form of a high-level scope document. Respond by taking short-term actions that apply all available resources to stabilize the process. The full DMAIC cycle is employed to solve the disruption and bring it under control.
Modular kaizen flow using the Lean Six Sigma DMAIC approach is shown in figure 1. Figure 1: Modular kaizen improvement cycle flow  A Modular kaizen approach minimizes disruptions by making sure no ”analysis” is executed until “measure” has been done to establish the baseline measurement of where a disruption begins. When any action is taken, it is done in an informed manner. The analysis is short term, based upon a comparison of expected process performance with datagathered from the actual performance experienced. If the disruption is within theexpected variation of the process as it is defined, the incidence is documented and theprocess either continued as defined, or improved within current criteria to prevent arecurrence of the disruption.Once the disruption is fully defined, if it is found to be a special cause outside the normalcriteria of the process, a team is chartered to develop a plan using the complete DMAICcycle. The Define phase of the DMAIC cycle identifies changes to the process intendedto prevent the disruption from occurring again. This second cycle of “measure,”“analyze,” and “improve” validates (measures) the final improved outcome and employsthe control phase of the cycle to document the changes for future sustainability.This small M, A, and I cycle is the basis of Modular kaizen within the Lean Six Sigmaimprovement cycle. The sustainability function of a stable operating process includesconstant monitoring of performance to assure the process is still capable of meetingcustomer requirements within normal limits. If customer requirements have changed tothe point where the existing process is no longer capable of meeting specifications, thena full improvement study and DMAIC improvement process is employed.Analyzing a System Disruption:The Modular kaizen approach minimizes disruption by making sure no “improvement” isexecuted until “measure” has been done and data has been “analyzed” to identify thereality of the current situation. Modular kaizen is an approach that resists the urge topanic in the face of a disruption. Once the process is stabilized, a full DMAIC cycle isundertaken to develop a plan and action steps to proactively minimize the recurrence ofthe disruption. The final step at the end of any Modular kaizen activity is to documentsuccesses and lessons learned.When a disruption occurs in a stable system, the impact it has caused must be defined.One way to analyze the disruption is to identify what has been impacted in the overall
system using a Disruption and Impact Matrix as shown in figure 2. The first step is toidentify what areas were impacted in the current stable state. These impacted areas arecalled Areas of Concern (AoC). AoC can be functional as well as system-level concerns.Once the AoC are documented, a broad sense of how they are impacted is determined.The next step is to analyze whether the impacted areas are under the control orinfluence of the organization. If the organization controls the process under study, actioncan be taken directly to minimize the impact. If the organization can only influence theAoC, taking action might be slower since others need to be involved before makingdecisions to stabilize the current state. Figure 2: Disruption and Impact Matrix The AoC should be prioritized within both control and influence categories. It is best to start with the AoC that have been most strongly impacted. Prioritizing stabilization efforts is most valuable when faced with limited resources. Once the AoC are prioritized, they can be analyzed using a Force and Effect Diagram + ca or Disruption and Impact Diagram. Both tools are useful as a response team analyzesand makes small improvements to stabilize the situation. Example 1 - Disruption Caused by Budget Cut:A disruption many organizations encounter is the reduction in budgets from one year tothe next and the impact it has on services which can be provided. The following exampleshown in figure 3 is one in which a department has to cut its budget by 25%. SomeAreas of Concern (AoC) generated by a senior management team might be: Staff Loss Program cuts and degradation Loss of funds Loss of public support Media interpretation of the events Reduced customer satisfactionThe team should prioritize the AoC by those most likely to occur needing an immediateresponse and those under department control. Understanding up front the mostimportant items over which they have control helps begin the Modular kaizen process.The AoC over which they have influence also need to be prioritized. These areas mustbe monitored to ensure they are not impacting those areas under department control.
Figure 3 shows AoC diagramed to illustrate how the Disruption and Impact Matrix can beused to capture team analysis of a disruption. Figure 3: Disruption and Impact Matrix The Disruption and Impact Diagram shown in figure 4 aids in further analysis of the AoC. Two of the AoC are shown in figure 4. Things the team might measure and analyze under staff cuts are: current morale of the staff who has seniority what skill levels that may be lost what union rules may be in force if layoffs were to occur.The improve action would be to communicate with the staff about potential impacts assoon as possible and compare the skill levels of those being cut with skill levels neededfor the services that will still be offered. If the department has a union, this informationwould be important if a bumping process were considered.Another AoC analyzed in figure 4 is Service Cuts. Some potential areas we would wantto measure and analyze are the services we currently offer, services we are mandatedto offer, and any duplication of services. The improve step would be to develop a priority list of services to be offered after the budget cut and a listing of those services scheduled to be cut. Another measure and analyze step could be to detail the impact and potential risks to the community when the services are cut.Figure 4: Disruption and Impact Diagram
Example 2 - Disruption Caused by Server Crash Figure 5: Disruption and Impact Matrix - Server CrashSummary:These two examples show how the Modular kaizen Lean Six Sigma approach minimizesdisruptions by making sure no “improve” is executed until “measure and analysis”have been done to establish the baseline measurement of where a disruption begins.Doing measure and analysis first helps keep the team disciplined so that no rash actionis taken in an uninformed manner. When any action is taken, it is done in an informedmanner. Short-term minimization of disruption can be accomplished while still supportingstrategic, system wide process improvement.References: Modular kaizen, R. Bialek, G. Duffy, and J. Moran, Public Health Foundation, 2011,http://www.phf.org/resourcestools/Pages/Modular_kaizen_Dealing_with_Disruptions.aspx. The Essence of Modular kaizen, G. Duffy and J. W. Moran, ASQ Six Sigma Forum, as yetunpublished, 2011. Hoffherr G, Moran J, Nadler G.Breakthrough Thinking in Total Quality Management.Englewood Cliffs, NJ: PTR Prentice Hall, 1994. The tools of Modular kaizen, as listed in figure 1 are described in the full text: Bialek, R, Duffy,G, Moran, J. Modular kaizen: Dealing with Disruptions. Washington, DC: the Public HealthFoundation; 2011 Bialek, R, Duffy, G, Moran, J. Modular kaizen: Dealing with Disruptions. Washington, DC: thePublic Health Foundation; 2011., pg. 63 Note that the Force and Effect Diagram + ca is titled to represent the “check” and “act” phasesof the PDCA improvement cycle. The tool is equally effective for improvement teams employingthe more robust DMAIC steps of “measure”, “analyze”, and “improve.”
About John W. Moran and Grace L. Duffy Grace L. Duffy, CMQ/OE, CQA, CQIA, CSSGB, CLSSMBB provides services in organizational and process improvement, leadership, quality, customer service and teamwork. Her clients include government, health care, public health, education, manufacturing, services and not-for-profit organizations. Duffy holds a master’s in business administration from Georgia State University. She is an ASQ Fellow and past vice presidentof ASQ. Duffy can be reached at email@example.com.John W. Moran, MBA, Ph.D., CMC, CMQ/OE, CQIA, is senior quality advisor to thePublic Health Foundation. He has over 30 years of quality improvement expertise indeveloping tools and training programs, implementing and evaluating QI programs, andwriting articles and books on QI methods. Dr. Moran is a retired senior vice president ofinformation systems, administrative and diagnostic services at New England BaptistHospital. He was previously chief operating officer of Changing Healthcare, Inc. Dr.Moran was employed for 21 years by Polaroid where he held various seniormanagement positions. His last position was director of worldwide quality and firstname.lastname@example.org.I invite you to join as a member of the PEX Network Group http://tinyurl.com/3hwakem,you will have access to Key Leaders Globally, Events, Webinars, Presentations, Articles,Case Studies, Blog Discussions, White Papers, and Tools and Templates. To accessthis free content please take 2 minutes for a 1 time FREE registration athttp://tiny.cc/tpkd0PEX Network, a division of IQPC, facilitates access to a wealth of relevant content forProcess Excellence, Lean, and Six Sigma practitioners. Further enhanced with an onlinecommunity of your peers, we will provide you with the tools and resources to help youperform more effective and efficiently, while enhancing the quality operations within yourorganization. As our industry becomes more and more dependent on the Web forinformation, PEXNetwork.com has been developed to provide Six Sigma professionalswith instant access to information. Leveraging our strength and foundation in education,IQPC and the Process Excellence Network are uniquely positioned to provide acomprehensive library of webcasts gathered from our events, as well as exclusivecontent from leaders in the industry.