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09:23 AM

Supply Chain Hub's Lean Six Sigma Program empowering employees, companies


With its Lean Six Sigma program, the Supply Chain Innovation Center and Business Incubator (SCICBI) is helping several industries in the Chicago region improve conditions for their employees and the people they serve. 

The program gives professionals from industries like healthcare and manufacturing an opportunity to examine the ways they use their resources to improve performance. That means reworking a company's processes and creating new ones that are more efficient. In one case, that exercise saved a company working with Governors State University (GSU) half a million dollars, said Dr. Tricia Kerns, who teaches in the program.  

“Lean Six Sigma teaches proven methods to uncover waste and eliminate “non-value added” activities that companies tend to spend a significant amount of time on,” Kerns said. “There’s a "positive" connection to the company’s employees as they are part of the solution. Employees, therefore, are engaged and empowered." 

The success of the program has to do with it's focus on "learning and doing" that translates to immediate results, Kerns said

"Ultimately this approach changes the organization's culture, encouraging employees to be a part of the solution," Kerns said. “This is especially important today as labor constraints have negatively influenced every industry. Having engaged employees helps with this.”

The program focuses on both Advanced Lean Techniques and Six Sigma "Green Belt" methodologies. The Advanced Lean Techniques teaches professionals tools like value stream mapping and root-cause analysis, which gives them the ability to look for continuous areas of improvement at their organization.  Six Sigma is more project based with understanding the foundation of Define, Measure, Improve and Control (DMAIC).

“Oftentimes, opportunities to improve a process are hidden and it’s not always easy to discern what a problem is and where an opportunity to improve is,” said Reggie Greenwood, Director of SCICBI. “A green belt enables a person to create a fundamental skill applicable to any type of operation.” 

After receiving a “Lean Six Sigma Green Belt,” professionals then work with Dr. Kerns on implementing what they’ve learned in their organization.  

Right now, 10 large manufacturing and logistics companies are enrolled in the program.  

Greenwood said he’s looking forward to working with more companies in the region and expanding on the great work that’s already been done.   

“This program gives us the opportunity to have working relationships with companies throughout the Chicago region and it's a technique companies can use to be more creative and innovative in their operations,” Greenwood said.