Spotlight on CI


         Practical solutions for the real world

 August 2022                                                                 Suburban Philadelphia, PA                                               


On My Mind:

Practitioners spend so much time talking to like-minded people

P13that it's easy to forget there is a whole world that may have never heard of CI topics or terms.  The concepts, once explained, make sense, but they tend to think of it as common sense.  I was reminded of this when talking to a realtor buddy I hadn't seen in a while.  A simple conversation ground to a halt while I tried to explain what I do and think about.  He looked at me and asked "Isn't it human nature to get comfortable with one way of doing things?  Why fight human nature?"

I was forced to agree and confront my own value in the world.  It occurred to me if situations stay the same then one way works just fine.  However, that is not the case for anything I see on a regular basis.  Regulations, people, tools, parts, processes are constantly changing.  And, competitive pressures mean we need to do things better, faster, cheaper and right the first time.  Change is the new constant, or maybe it was always there, just not at such a dizzying pace as it seems today.  How about in your world?  Does change wait for you or are you forced to catch up to it?  And how do you act on it?  Or is it react?

The article below, "Lean Six Sigma for Dummies (A Primer in CI)", comes about because many people don't understand the differences between Lean and Six Sigma and how they can work together.  Further, they don't want to ask basic questions because it seems evident that everybody else in the room knows what's going on with CI tools (they don't).  

Here is my take on how to know when to use which tool.  Future articles will get into specifics and this article sets the stage for future discussions.

If you want to learn more about a structured CI process, I have a Six Sigma Green Belt class starting in January and a Lean Practitioner Certification class starting in February.  Check the website for more information under 'Training Events'.  You can access the page by clicking here

 All the best this holiday season.


Lean Six Sigma for Dummies (a Primer on CI)

Too often, writers of Lean topics assume their readers grasp the subject matter as easily as they do. This article, on the other hand, is intended for people who have trouble spelling “Lean.”

The word “Lean” is commonly defined as “the elimination of waste.” But it has recently taken on a wider connotation that also includes “having a mindset of continuous improvement (CI)”—the idea of always looking for opportunities to make the things we do better, faster, cheaper. The word’s more modern definition also incorporates the idea of creating a CI culture in organizations and having all people participate in the changes. Imagine how much further an organization can progress when everyone is involved in CI, rather than just the CI leader or a small team!

Read More of Lean Six Sigma for Dummies


“I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind.”

 - Lord Kelvin


It's easy to know when a business issue, like scrap or on-time delivery is a problem.  What is shocking to many people is when they calculate the cost to the business and even more so when they figure out how much more they would have to sell in order to make the same margin.  


CI Terms Defined


            “Takt Time” and "Number of Resources Required"

Takt is a German word meaning rhythm or beat.  Takt time refers to the pace at which product must be made to meet customer demand.  It is calculated as Takt Time = Net Time Available / Customer Demand per shift or day.

The number of people required to do the job can be calculated from # People Required = Cycle Time of the Operation / Takt Time

Assume net time available after breaks and cleanup and meetings is 450 minutes on a shift and customer demand is 45 per day.  Then Takt Time = 450 minutes per day / 45 units per day = 10 minutes.  Takt time = 10 minutes.  Takt rate would be 6 pieces per hour.

If an assembly operation requires 18 minutes worth of work to complete then # people required to do the job = 18 minutes/10 minutes = 1.8 people which might get rounded up to 2 people or kaizened to reduce work content time further.

 boat dock