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Office of the Chief Financial Officer
United States Department of Agriculture

Lean Six Sigma Frequently Asked Questions

Q. I've read the 'buzz words', but what does it mean?

A. Lean Six Sigma is really pulling two methods of improving the workplace into a single program. "Lean" is about reducing waste and speeding up processes. "Six Sigma" focuses on improving individual product quality and product consistency. Together the two techniques bring specialized tools, like statistical analysis and process mapping, to bear to improve our business so we can be more competitive.

 

Q. What is that odd "o"?

A. The s is a Greek letter called sigma. It is usually used in statistics.In Lean Six Sigma it is used to represent a commitment to achieving quality products.

 

Q. What is my role?

A. Your personal involvement will depend on your work assignment.Lean Six Sigma has specific training levels called 'belts'.However, these aren't the only people essential to LSS. As a LSS organization every employee's insight is essential. At some point you will be asked to contribute your insight to a process review.

 

Q. How is it applied?

A. The Lean Six Sigma methodology is best summed up with a five-step process.Define the problem; process Measurement; Analyze the results and potential improvements; Implement the selected improvement; Control and maintain the gains. D-M-A-I-C (pronounced duh-may- ick) is used to ensure a consistent approach to workplace improvement. DMAIC is the basic process workplace improvement teams will follow when reviewing an issue and crafting solutions to problems. This is an important change in approach to problem-solving since many of us have a tendency to move straight to a solution (the I step), but by applying DMAIC we can ensure we have captured the underlying cause, not just the symptoms we see.

 

Q. How do I enroll in one of the 'belt' courses?

A. Greenbelt training will be offered as needed. Please let your supervisor know if you are interested in participating.