Flevy Blog is an online business magazine covering Business Strategies, Business Theories, & Business Stories.

Find the Constraint… Find the Money

Featured Best Practice on Six Sigma Project

33-page PDF document
Please read the Preview Document "Lean Six Sigma 50 Tools Bundle Information Booklet" for complete details. The 50 Lean Six Sigma Tools file can download to your desktop or cloud folder through the purchase. Lean Six Sigma Practitioners, Managers, Black Belts, Green Belts -- this is a [read more]

* * * *

break_constraintsThe question I am asked most often by business owners and students is “how can Lean Six Sigma improve business?”  My answer is very simple and always the same–find the constraints… find the money.  What is keeping product from reaching the customer faster?  These are the constraints–find them–remove them–and watch profits soar.  It sounds easy, and it is, if you are willing to make the removal of constraints a priority.

But first, what is a constraint? 

The definition is simple: a constraint exists when Cycle Time exceeds Takt Time at any process step.  In other words, when the product takes longer to produce than the customer requires.  OK, so how do you find the constraints?  Walk the process and look for inventory – that is, work in process.  Wherever partially completed product is waiting for further processing, that is where the constraint exists.  There are other ways to do this but if you are looking for a quick method that warrants immediate attention, this will suffice.

Now that you’ve found the constraint(s), what’s next? 

Several techniques are available for removing constraints:

  1. Balance the process. Cross train employees so that resources can be moved from low Cycle Time process steps to those exceeding Takt Time.  Practically, Cycle Time should be no more than 80% of Takt Time.
  2. Construct a Value Stream Map, identify the Non Valued Added (NVA) activities and eliminate them.  A simple test of value is this: if a process or activity is on the invoice to the customer, then it is Value Added, otherwise it is Non Value Added (NVA).
  3. Identify Waste in the process using the 7 Wastes Evaluation tool.  50-95% of all business activity is Waste – find it and eliminate it.  The 5S Evaluation tool can also be used to assist with identifying waste.
  4. Identify Waste in the process using the Yamazumi Chart and eliminate it.  This involves a little more work but is very precise at identifying Waste.
  5. Conduct a Setup Reduction (SMED).  Setups are NVA and so must be minimized.  Move as much work as you can so that it is External to the process.  That is, they are performed while the process or application is running (i.e. Before or After)
  6. Reduce batch size.  The smaller the batch size, the faster product will flow.
  7. Create Standard Work.  Be clear on how long each activity should take and then monitor the process and identify process steps exceeding their expected time.
  8. Use Visual Management.  Simple, clear, understandable communication is a challenge in many organizations.  Visual Management is a powerful communication tool and can overcome many communication deficiencies.

Constraints in a process are synonymous to rocks in a river – they inhibit movement, which ultimately adds cost to the organization.  The relentless pursuit of removing process constraints is a wise management directive and a profitable one as well.  Train all employees in the methods that help identify constraints.  Then, reward employees for eliminating constraints.  Do this one thing well and business will constantly grow.

124-slide PowerPoint presentation
In today's competitive environment, organizations must delight their customers and relentlessly look for new ways to exceed their expectations. To accomplish this, Six Sigma Quality has to become a part of an organization's culture. Six Sigma provides a rigorous and structured approach to help [read more]

Do You Want to Implement Business Best Practices?

You can download in-depth presentations on Six Sigma Project and 100s of management topics from the FlevyPro Library. FlevyPro is trusted and utilized by 1000s of management consultants and corporate executives.

For even more best practices available on Flevy, have a look at our top 100 lists:

These best practices are of the same as those leveraged by top-tier management consulting firms, like McKinsey, BCG, Bain, and Accenture. Improve the growth and efficiency of your organization by utilizing these best practice frameworks, templates, and tools. Most were developed by seasoned executives and consultants with over 20+ years of experience.

Readers of This Article Are Interested in These Resources

258-slide PowerPoint presentation
The PSL - Six Sigma Green Belt Training series has 8 modules and 258 slides in all as per below: SSGB1 - Introduction - 30 slides SSGB2 - Stakeholders -38 slides SSGB3 - Project Methodology - 31 slides SSGB4 - Define Phase - 27 slides SSGB5 - Measure Phase - 46 slides SSGB6 - Analyze Phase [read more]

136-slide PowerPoint presentation
1630-page PDF document

About Michael Carter

Michael Carter, Ph.D., is a Six Sigma Master Black Belt and President of 6ixSigma.org. His firm has assisted with Lean Six Sigma training and implementation in Australia, Singapore, Germany, China, Malaysia, Taiwan, Mexico, India, Hong Kong, United States, Canada, and counting. He also has a large number of training material and tools available on Flevy, covering topics like DMAIC, DMADV, and Lean as an integrated methodology--even Shainin.

, , , , , , , , ,

Complimentary Business Training Guides

Many companies develop robust strategies, but struggle with operationalizing their strategies into implementable steps. This presentation from flevy introduces 12 powerful business frameworks spanning both Strategy Development and Strategy Execution. [Learn more]

  This 48-page whitepaper, authored by consultancy Envisioning, provides the frameworks, tools, and insights needed to manage serious Change—under the backdrop of the business lifecycle. These lifecycle stages are each marked by distinct attributes, challenges, and behaviors. [Learn more]

We've developed a very comprehensive collection of Strategy & Transformation PowerPoint templates for you to use in your own business presentations, spanning topics from Growth Strategy to Brand Development to Innovation to Customer Experience to Strategic Management. [Learn more]

  We have compiled a collection of 10 Lean Six Sigma templates (Excel) and Operational Excellence guides (PowerPoint) by a multitude of LSS experts. These tools cover topics including 8 Disciplines (8D), 5 Why's, 7 Wastes, Value Stream Mapping (VSM), and DMAIC. [Learn more]
Recent Articles by Corporate Function






The Flevy Business Blog (https://flevy.com/blog) is a leading source of information on business strategies, business theories, and business stories. Most of our articles are authored by management consultants and industry executives with over 20 years of experience.

Flevy (https://flevy.com) is the marketplace for business best practices, such as management frameworks, presentation templates, and financial models. Our best practice documents are of the same caliber as those produced by top-tier consulting firms (like McKinsey, Bain, Accenture, BCG, and Deloitte) and used by Fortune 100 organizations. Learn more about Flevy here.

Connect with Flevy:


About Flevy.com   /   Terms   /   Privacy Policy
© . Flevy LLC. All Rights Reserved.