Lean manufacturing, lean enterprise, or lean production, often simply, "Lean," is a production practice that considers the expenditure of resources for any goal other than the creation of value for the end customer to be wasteful, and thus a target for elimination. Working from the perspective of the customer who consumes a product or service, "value" is defined as any action or process that a customer would be willing to pay for.
    Essentially, lean is centered on preserving value with less work. Lean manufacturing is a management philosophy derived mostly from the Toyota Production System (TPS) (hence the term Toyotism is also prevalent) and identified as "Lean" only in the 1990s.  TPS is renowned for its focus on reduction of the original Toyota seven wastes to improve overall customer value, but there are varying perspectives on how this is best achieved. The steady growth of Toyota, from a small company to the world's largest automaker, has focused attention on how it has achieved this.
    Lean manufacturing is a variation on the theme of efficiency based on optimizing flow; it is a present-day instance of the recurring theme in human history toward increasing efficiency, decreasing waste, and using empirical methods to decide what matters, rather than uncritically accepting pre-existing ideas. As such, it is a chapter in the larger narrative that also includes such ideas as the folk wisdom of thrift, time and motion study, Taylorism, the Efficiency Movement, and Fordism. Lean manufacturing is often seen as a more refined version of earlier efficiency efforts, building upon the work of earlier leaders such as Taylor or Ford, and learning from their mistakes.
    Contact Process Whisperer® Consultants LLC to learn more about Lean manufacturing techniques and eliminating waste.

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"When each and every employee can see the flow of value to the customer, and fix that flow before it breaks down."

    Operational Excellence is not easy to define. Some descriptions are too broad. Others set parameters so narrow that the ultimate definition seems too focused in scope. Often, we end up with definitions that seem plausible in an academic sense, such as “Being world class,” “Being the best globally,” or, “Excellence in everything we do,” but are difficult to translate into practical actions. Worse yet, we end up with so many different interpretations of what “Operational Excellence” is that the organization as a whole lacks a precise definition and a roadmap to follow for achieving it.
    Operational Excellence is a philosophy of leadership, teamwork and problem solving resulting in continuous improvement throughout the organization by focusing on the needs of the customer, empowering employees, and optimizing existing activities in the process.
    Operational Excellence stresses the need to continually improve by promoting a stronger teamwork atmosphere. Safety and quality improvements for employees and customers lead towards becoming a better enterprise.
    The continuous improvement is not only about improving HR quality, but also it is about the processes and standards improvement.  You cannot improve if you do not measure. Metrics and KPI definition for any process is of pivotal importance. Once a metric value can be calculated, from the data coming directly from the process crucial measurement points, it should be logged.  Then continuous improvement means continuously improving on existing metrics and KPIs values.
    Organizations should also be improved. OE'S main objective is to reduce operation cost and wastes, without affecting quality, time delivery and cost of products and services one has to offer.
    "Toyota has turned operational excellence into a strategic weapon. This operational excellence is based in part on tools and quality improvement methods made famous by Toyota in the manufacturing world, such as just-in-time, kaizen, one-piece flow, jidoka, and heijunka."

    In 2010 the Opexgroep (a Dutch company) introduced Operational Excellence as the highest possible standard for reliable products and services.  In an era of widespread corporate fraud, deceit and crisis, they state that a company’s management of quality and performance needs to be brought back to serving the interests of the client.  Their “Operational Excellence Framework” shows how the widely accepted interpretation of operational excellence as a way of “letting the interests of stakeholders prevail” is based on last century’s paradigms.  In the modern organization this is replaced by models, methods and instruments that re-acknowledge the need for reliable, honest products and services which provide genuine customer value.  They call this Reliability Centered Management (RCM).

    One of the most important sets of skills for leaders and members are facilitation skills. These are the "process" skills we use to guide and direct key parts of our organizing work with groups of people such as meetings, planning sessions, and training of our members and leaders.
    Whether it's a meeting (big or small) or a training session, someone has to shape and guide the process of working together so that you meet your goals and accomplish what you've set out to do. While a group of people might set the agenda and figure out the goals, one person needs to concentrate on how you are going to move through your agenda and meet those goals effectively. This is the person we call the "facilitator."
    So, how is facilitating different than chairing a meeting?
    Well, it is and it isn't. Facilitation has three basic principles:

  1. A "facilitator" is a guide to help people move through a process together, not the seat of wisdom and knowledge. That means a facilitator isn't there to give opinions, but to draw out opinions and ideas of the group members.
  2. Facilitation focuses on HOW people participate in the process of learning or planning, not just on WHAT gets achieved.
  3. A facilitator is neutral and never takes sides.

    Process Whisperer® Consultants have successfully completed a formal Lean Master Facilitator course at the Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE) in Norcross, GA.  The  Process Whisperer® also holds Virtual Facilitation Trainer Certification through NetSpeed Learning Solutions in Seattle WA.
    Contact Process Whisperer® Consultants LLC to learn more about facilitation workshop offerings. 


    Six Sigma is a business management strategy, originally developed by Motorola in 1986. Six Sigma became well known after Jack Welch made it a central focus of his business strategy at General Electric in 1995, and today it is widely used in many sectors of industry.
    Six Sigma seeks to improve the quality of process outputs by identifying and removing the causes of defects (errors) and minimizing variability in manufacturing and business processes. It uses a set of quality management methods, including statistical methods, and creates a special infrastructure of people within the organization ("Black Belts", "Green Belts", etc.) who are experts in these methods. Each Six Sigma project carried out within an organization follows a defined sequence of steps and has quantified financial targets (cost reduction and/or profit increase).
    The term Six Sigma originated from terminology associated with manufacturing, specifically terms associated with statistical modeling of manufacturing processes. The maturity of a manufacturing process can be described by a sigma rating indicating its yield or the percentage of defect-free products it creates. A six sigma process is one in which 99.99966% of the products manufactured are statistically expected to be free of defects (3.4 defects per million). Motorola set a goal of "six sigma" for all of its manufacturing operations, and this goal became a byword for the management and engineering practices used to achieve it.

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    Lean Six Sigma is a synergized managerial concept of Lean and Six Sigma that results in the elimination of the seven kinds of wastes/muda (classified as Defects, Overproduction, Transportation, Waiting, Inventory, Motion and Over-Processing) and provision of goods and service at a rate of 3.4 defects per million opportunities (DPMO) .
    The Lean Six Sigma concepts were first published in the book titled "Lean Six Sigma: Combining Six Sigma with Lean Speed" authored by Michael George in the year 2002. Lean Six Sigma utilises the DMAIC phases similar to that of Six Sigma.
    The Lean Six Sigma projects comprise the Lean's waste elimination projects and the Six Sigma projects based on the critical to quality characteristics. The DMAIC toolkit of Lean Six Sigma comprises all the Lean and Six Sigma tools. The training for Lean Six Sigma is provided through the belt based training system similar to that of Six Sigma. The belt personnel are designated as White Belts, Yellow Belts, Green Belts, Black Belts and Master Black Belts.
    Contact Process Whisperer® Consultants LLC to learn more about Lean Six Sigma.

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