Lean Six Sigma is a method used in many large organizations to look for improvements in business efficiency and effectiveness. It relies on a team-based approach to focus on the customer, on removing waste, and on improving processes. The Postal Service and the Office of Inspector General are among the many companies and organizations that use Lean Six Sigma as a continuous improvement tool to try to get at the root of the problem rather than just solve the problems as they arise. Management uses the insights gained from the Lean Six Sigma approach to reduce variations in processes and systems.

Lean Six Sigma has loyal adherents in many industries, but some critics have argued that it is primarily effective only in product manufacturing. Others suggest that soliciting ongoing input from your employees is one of the most effective ways to improve processes and encourages their ownership in the process. Finally, some critics note that Lean Six Sigma only promotes incremental improvements, not radical breakthroughs.

The OIG has found Lean Six Sigma to be useful in automating processes, shortening process cycle time, reducing paper usage, and improving high-volume and high-usage databases. Eliminating waste and strengthening processes results in cost savings and improved efficiencies. The Postal Service has employed Lean Six Sigma and other continuous improvement efforts in several of its processes, including relocation, payables, receivables, and some claims processing. The Postmaster General recently stressed the importance of these tools to the Postal Service’s plan to accomplish the business changes necessary to compete in today’s marketplace. He touted the Value Stream Map (VSM) as a Lean Six Sigma tool that is being used effectively to look at all components of an end-to-end process.

We would like to hear your thoughts on Lean Six Sigma. If you have had it applied to your job, or to processes you use, did it drive down costs and improve service? Did it improve the overall customer experience? Are processes significantly better because of Lean Six Sigma? Or have you found there are better ways to improve processes and increase efficiency without using a Six Sigma approach? Are there better ways to achieve significant breakthroughs?

Comments (17)

  • anon

    As a student of lean principles I was curious as to what the USPS was doing in this area. I am by no means an expert in the field but I do see a recurring error in lean as it is practiced in the US. Organizations tend to set up a lean/six sigma office with trained lean/six sigma project managers that go forth and do lean/six sigma things. Lean, not lean/six sigma, is a set of principles that are effective if they are built into the organization's culture. You don't "do" lean you "are" lean. That's why it's so hard for US organizations to implement. They aren't willing to do the hard work of transformation. However, the benefits of such a transformation are often incredible. I encourage you to look at the Ariens Company. The company was in deep financial difficulties and transformed itself by adopting the lean principles.

    Dec 05, 2017
  • anon

    How many companies have you worked for that make an employee account for every 1/100 of their day (USPS time clocks are on a 1/100 per hour)? There should be an investigation into how much time USPS management puts into accounting for every "click" on the time clock. Really at the end of the day all that really matters is a "begin" time and "end" time, the rest is smoke and mirrors. Postal employees waste a tremendous amount of time moving on the time clock to various MODS codes that are insignificant and don't get the mail processed. We have supervisors that spend hours daily just to verify that employees are on the correct MODS code. LSS programs applied to "the end of the line" processes are not accurate or effective in the current environment. The sortation and delivery of US mail is process driven and too much time is spent trying to fix step 4 when step 1 is the problem. If step 1 has an issue, then all other subsequent steps will be wrong. The end of the line processes are the ones that pull the final product together. They are the ones who fix the issues and delivery the final mail, yet they are the ones who are the most scrutinized, dissected and compressed.

    Aug 17, 2017
  • anon

    We have supervision forcing clerks to put heave grey tubs and long blue tubs in hampers to sort small spurs into them. There are so many packages that these tubs are in the way and then the carrier just dumps the tubs into the hamper anyway. The gray tubs were meant for a rack and weight over four times the weight of a flat tub. This is slowing down the parcel sorting process, making clerks and carriers having to handle these heavier gray tubs as wells as long blue tubs. There has been nothing provided stating these parcels have to be separated out. For years we have thrown all parcels into a hamper and this was always effective. If we had a large heavy tub we place it by the carrier's tree. Management that is making these changes have never been clerks and doesn't understand the problem this is causing with safety issues as well as the parcels bounce off these tubs into other hampers. This creates more steps taken to retrieve these parcels. It's all about some supervisor getting a green belt for an idea that is unsafe, time consuming and carriers and clerks do not like this change. Parcel volume has increased tremendously and the parcels come to the stations mixed up, so why the need to separate? If the clerks and carriers do not mind having them all in one hamper, why do this when it takes more time to do, makes it a hassle and is causing more weight to the employees backs?

    Apr 27, 2017
  • anon

    Improve processes: We value customers' time. It is not important for customers who are waiting in line when you enter the custom information. If we have a line of customers, we should enter the custom in another time.

    Oct 24, 2016
  • anon

    You can not force fish climb the mountain. If an employee will not fit for the mail processing then reassign them to retail or maintenance instead of hire a new good looking girl.

    Oct 08, 2016
  • anon

    Airport retail post office has huge space in the back. It opened 24 hours before. How much you will increase profit and cut cost if you combine nearby three into one.

    Sep 28, 2016
  • anon

    The root of the problem: Why have thirty keyers on five Parcel Post Machines. Since camera can read most the zip code, we only need one fast keryer to key the reject parcels. If you make the belt flat, you will save 29 labors and five supervisors hours.

    Sep 16, 2016
  • anon

    Efficency and Effectiveness:Use technology and camera to scan parcels save time for clerks to enter the same custom form customers already entered. In order to cut the line short and save labor hours. Have a scanner to scan custom form will save a lot of time.

    Sep 15, 2016
  • anon

    improve process: how to let management communicate each other, so clerks can get letters and parcels done before carriers get in? When should clerks came in up to whether transportation get the mail in. When should carriers come in depends on whether clerks finish their sorting. Timing these three dots can save a lot.

    Sep 13, 2016
  • anon

    How much does it cost to bus from seaside post office to cannon beach to Astoria? Transportation will gain money, the post office will cut cost. What about have a mobile truck run among these three offices. Keep P.O. Box services. how much money will you save on labor?

    Sep 10, 2016
  • anon

    How about require residents have mail boxes along the street, so carriers can deliver without walking. This will save time and prevent dog bite. Thanks

    Sep 04, 2016
  • anon

    The poster who said that the NRLCA was a joke is correct.

    Jan 07, 2016
  • anon

    The process is a joke. If truly a "team-based" approach, who is on the team? Apparently only managers at the district and area level, who have NO clue what the USPS does and how it works. As a rural carrier, they use these kind of processes to make my job more inefficient, in direct contradiction of our collective bargaining agreement. The NRLCA is a worthless union, that's why so few grievances under the "evaluated" system. I know the OIG is champing at the bit to get the NALC to join the evaluated system, but they are smart enough to see what happens when inefficiencies are forced upon non-hourly employees. The employees take the hit. When you enforce inefficiencies upon city carriers, although it bothers many of them, they don't take the financial hit. Six sigma, and the associated mgmt attitude, is what will cause the disintegration of the USPS. Packages won't save it.

    Oct 04, 2015
  • anon

    Many people quit because they have to work 12 hours and only get paid for 8. It's sad to be a salaried employee and have to put up with these bad decisions that slow you down.

    Nov 16, 2017
  • anon

    Hey Thanks for sharing this information.This is very nice thing to Learn the Lean Six Sigma.This is Important to improve the Efficiency ,effectiveness and Business Sustainability.

    Oct 04, 2013
  • anon

    <p><span>In my previous company (HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical) we used the Six Sigma process on many different projects. One of the most significant projects I was involved in was identifying an improved process of having parts returned for warranty reimbursement from the manufacturers. The new method had a tremendous impact on our bottom line and my bonus! I think it is a good method for breaking things down to identify where improvement lies.</span></p>

    May 21, 2013
  • anon

    Interesting.. I m glad to read your post

    Sep 16, 2014

Recent Comments

Share this post

Monthly Archive