Lean Six Sigma has become the gold standard when it comes to successfully assessing and fixing processes through Project Management best practice linked to established and proven tools and methodologies. But, before we dive into how Blockchain can be a Lean Six Sigma enabler lets’ start with some definitions.
Lean Six Sigma
“Lean Six Sigma is a discipline that delivers customer value through efficient operations and consistent quality standards. It’s a methodology that focuses on improving performance by systematically removing waste and reducing variation. Simply put, Lean Six Sigma is a set of tools that can help an organization improve customer satisfaction, quality, products, services and their bottom line.”
You can check out the definition from six sigma website as well.
In order to better understand Lean Six Sigma, it is important to separate “Lean” from “Six Sigma”. Lean focuses on efficiency and eliminating waste. Six Sigma on the other hand, focuses on quality and consistency. When used together, these problem solving skills can transform an organization.”
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Blockchain Can Help
DMAIC and Blockchain
But when it comes to technology does this enable Lean Six Sigma methodology or hinder it. From a Blockchain perspective there are many qualities it provides which can complement a Lean Six Sigma operating model.
To help enable this assessment we need a mechanism for comparison/alignment. Within Lean Six Sigma projects one of the common methodologies used is called DMAIC which means:
DMAIC – Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control (DMAIC).
From a Blockchain perspective, to enable our assessment we will use its four key characteristics, namely:
Consensus, Provenance, Immutability, Finality.
In looking at the above comparative characteristics it would seem logical that Lean Six Sigma and Blockchain can be linked together but how?
To explore this further we need to dig a little deeper. The following diagram seeks to look at how a Blockchain infrastructure might help a company looking to implement Lean Six Sigma.
First the get out clause regarding this diagram. It does not seek to be definitive or complete, its purpose is to generate discussion and consider how Blockchain can help lean and six sigma projects.
In looking at the value proposition that a Blockchain infrastructure could provide when looking to implement Lean Six Sigma, several observations quickly come to mind including:
- All the Blockchain characteristics would help in the Lean Six Sigma Define phase as the very structure of a Blockchain infrastructure is built around clear data tracking, traceability and ownership backed up by records of what has been done by who and where. This is important as defining a problem can only be done effectively when you have the required source data to analyze. If you cannot define the problem, it is highly unlikely you can address it effectively.
- The Provenance aspect of Blockchain also ties in nicely with the ability to measure a process through demonstrating the path of an asset and how it has changed over time. This data can help assess the efficiency of a process
- Consensus plays into the control piece of lean as that is where the validity of any transactions is confirmed.
- Immutability can be leveraged to help with improvement as that is where the transaction history is which can not only show what happened previously but over time what happens as improvements are implemented. It also helps provide data for failure rates and can be an input for cost of poor quality.
I am sure there are valid cases for further alignment in this diagram and with a bit more thought we could probably link all the boxes together but the purpose here is to show that Blockchain infrastructures are set up for Lean Six Sigma projects and the very qualities which define Blockchain enable Lean Six Sigma in ways a traditional database cannot.
Blockchain Is More Than Just a Technology
In closing I think it is important to consider the wider ramifications of Blockchain beyond it being seen and perceived as just a technical infrastructure and database.
When you think about Lean Six Sigma and its focus on efficiency, reducing waste and improving productivity and quality, then Blockchain and the value it enables takes on another dimension.
Let us be honest, many clients are not necessarily impressed by the technical features of Blockchain, to them it may appear as just another technology they do not need or can’t afford.
But, when this can be aligned with improving business operations, productivity and profit through it’s key characteristics and this can be paired with process methodologies such as (but not limited to) Lean Six Sigma, suddenly Blockchain becomes a real business value proposition.
So, if you are thinking of adopting Lean Six Sigma, do not neglect to look at your database infrastructure at the same time and if you don’t currently use Blockchain, maybe you need to reconsider.