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    Lean Means Sustainability – Step 3 – Analyze

    By Claus Schafhalter | March 23, 2010

    In earlier posts I wrote about “Define” and “Measure” as part of Six Sigma’s DMAIC cycle. Step 3 is “Analyze”, the “A” in DMAIC. The intend of this step is to understand what causes the problem defined in step 1 – “Define”. Let’s assume we characterized our problem that we spend too much energy in an office context and believe that we can use energy more efficiently.

    There are many lean tools to analyze our problem further, like several methodologies for root cause analysis, process maps for visualization, or the 5 Whys analysis to get past surface level answers to our problem. Usually I advise my clients to use a some kind of brainstorming methodology to gather many potential root causes, group potential root causes into bundles of similar ideas, and do an evaluation regarding probability, changeability and impact of root causes if addressed.

    There will be many causes for energy inefficiencies in our example, starting from not being able to turn down heating or AC in unoccupied offices to a copy machine that is set up incorrectly and therefore does not go into sleep or stand-by mode during off hours.

    Once we’ve developed our Ishikawa, Pareto or Tree diagram, we select good candidates that would address our problem and do further steps to confirm that we are working on the right issues and addressing them would make us more energy efficient.

    The methodology outlined above and described in many publications about lean management can be applied to many different problems, small or large. I saw that even big manufacturing plants where management thinks that they are highly efficient can benefit significantly redoing the Analyze phase on a regular basis. However, they have to ensure to bring fresh thinkers to the table, otherwise each new exercise is just a sad rehash of the ones done before.

    Alright, now we know why our office is not energy efficient enough. The next step – “Improve” will be subject of another post.

    Claus Schafhalter. Management Consultant with Sunogos Inc.

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