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StatOrg Services LLC

Madison, Wisconsin


Copyright © 2009
All Rights Reserved

Frequently Asked Questions

The best way to become familiar with the strengths and capabilities of a consulting firm is to work with us, and learn what our skills and capabilities can do for you. Short of that, a good way to become familiar with the work that a consulting practice provides is to know what they are thinking and what they are reading that influences their thinking.

We are frequently asked questions about topics in performance improvement, and publish our answers to those questions in this listing. If you have a question that puzzles you, contact us. When we answer it, we will provide an addition so that others benefit.

Here are answers to questions frequently asked by those contacting us for help:

What is Lean Six Sigma?

What is a Balanced Scorecard?

Why do you use the phrase "for impact" rather than "non-profit" to describe some organizations?

What is "elegant" about your solutions?

How does Lean Six Sigma relate to the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence?

Q: What is Lean Six Sigma?

A: Lean Six Sigma is the management process that many successful companies such as GE, Motorola, Toyota and others used to develop high quality products that are valuable to their customers. Toyota was the first adopter of the lean process, and they created many of the tests and solutions that are common practice. You will frequently hear Japanese words to describe the processes - Kaizen, Kanban, Poka-Yoke, are a few of the phrases used. The process heavily relies on Deming's statistical methods, and has a strong orientation to decision making with data. The process focuses on the cost, quality, and delivery of services to meet customer expectations.

Six Sigma is statistically a measure of quality where there are less than 4 defects per million. Most companies produce at a quality level closer to 3 sigma (97-98%) quality, and the concept behind 6 Sigma is to reduce the number of defects to such a low level that customers never complain. In most work efforts, there are just a few critical inputs that determine the quality level, and Six Sigma uses a disciplined process to define, measure, and analyze a process to determine those critical inputs. Once those are known, the process then shifts to making improvements based on those key inputs and developing detailed control plans to sustain the quality gains.

Lean is a business discipline focused on cost reduction and waste elimination. Lean solutions often mean getting workforces to focus on the value-added work - what the customer wants and is willing to pay for - and eliminate as much waste effort as possible.

Lean Six Sigma combines the Six Sigma quality processes with the Lean cost and waste processes to lower cost and increase quality to meet customer expectations.

Q: What is the Balanced Scorecard?

A: A new approach to strategic management was developed in the early 1990's by Drs. Robert Kaplan (Harvard Business School) and David Norton. They named this system the 'balanced scorecard'. Recognizing some of the weaknesses and vagueness of previous management approaches, the balanced scorecard approach provides a clear prescription as to what companies should measure in order to 'balance' the financial perspective.

The balanced scorecard is a management system (not only a measurement system) that enables organizations to clarify their vision and strategy and translate them into action. It provides feedback around both the internal business processes and external outcomes in order to continuously improve strategic performance and results. When fully deployed, the balanced scorecard transforms strategic planning from an academic exercise into the nerve center of an enterprise.

Kaplan and Norton describe the innovation of the balanced scorecard as follows:

"The balanced scorecard retains traditional financial measures. But financial measures tell the story of past events, an adequate story for industrial age companies for which investments in long-term capabilities and customer relationships were not critical for success. These financial measures are inadequate, however, for guiding and evaluating the journey that information age companies must make to create future value through investment in customers, suppliers, employees, processes, technology, and innovation."

The balanced scorecard suggests that we view the organization from four perspectives, and to develop metrics, collect data and analyze it relative to each of these perspectives:

  • The Learning and Growth Perspective
  • The Business Process Perspective
  • The Customer Perspective
  • The Financial Perspective

Q: Why do you use the phrase "for impact" rather than "non-profit" to describe organizations?

A: The term non-profit is antiquated, out-dated and outmoded. To fundamentally change the perception and approach of this growing third sector (public, private, and non-profit), there needs to be a change in the language used to describe your organization to your customers. This may be a quantum leap for some but if you understand your organization can involve into a more dynamic organization with a changed way of operation and a changed way of fundraising for your vision.

Q: What is "elegant" about your solutions?

A: Solutions often become a quick fix such as recommending a new technology that can add expense and create more process complexity. Most seem to have given up on the idea of solutions that solve cost, quality, and delivery problems simultaneously. The general perception is that we can quickly solve the cost and delivery issues, so let's do that and let quality go - throw it away and buy the next model when it hits the market. Toyota has a different approach to innovation, and this is the model for the elegant solution that StatOrg Services wants to provide to you.

An elegant solution is one in which the optimal or desired effect is achieved with the least amount of effort. Engineers seek the elegant solution as a means of solving a problem with the least possible waste of resources. In a mathematical proof, elegance is the minimum number of steps to achieve the solution with greatest clarity. In dance or martial arts, elegance is the minimum motion with maximum effect. In filmmaking, elegance is a simplex message with complex meaning. An elegant solution is recognized by its juxtaposition of simplicity and power. The most challenging games have the fewest rules, as do the most dynamic societies and organizations. An elegant solution is quite often a single tiny idea that changes everything.

We will work with you to address cost, quality, and delivery issues with the solutions we provide. If you are in business for the long term, you will want to provide your customers with the quality they expect at the cost and delivery time they want. Our elegant solutions will help you meet your customer expectations and sustain your business.

Q: How does Lean Six Sigma relate to the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence?

A: Lean Six Sigma is complementary to the Baldrige Criteria, not mutually exclusive. Many organizations use Baldrige to develop an overall performance map to identify areas that need improvement, and then use Six Sigma, Lean, or both tools to design operations or improve processes within the organization. The Baldrige Criteria form the management framework and Lean Six Sigma tools are the methodology to achieve business objectives. Baldrige Criteria focus on organizational improvement and innovation systems. Six Sigma and Lean methodologies drive waste and inefficiencies out of processes that the Baldrige Criteria identify for improvement. Six Sigma and Lean focus on organizational improvement and innovation processes.

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To become the reliable and creative provider of the solutions enterprises need to increase their impact and achieve their goals. We help enterprises provide their customers with the quality and costs expected by working smarter, not harder.

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