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Six Sigma Laws - the Law of Focus

What is Six Sigma?
Six sigma is a method used to provide business with the necessary tools to increase their overall performance and customer satisfaction. This is done by statistically analyzing various forms of data and information, then using it to anticipate the needs of their customers. The overall goal of Six Sigma is to increase a company's profits by identifying and then eliminating factors that contribute to waste and customer dissatisfaction.

What is Lean Manufacturing ?
Where six sigma works to improve quality via customer satisfaction and processes, lean manufacturing works to eliminate waste. The first step to eliminating waste, according to lean manufacturing, is to identify what causes the waste. As a general rule, waste is categorized in the following ways:

- Overproduction - this refers to producing more than is required, resulting in wasted products and labor
- Excess Transportation - transportation that costs the customer money but doesn't add any value to the end product
- Excess Inventory - more inventory than is required to complete the project
- Excess Processing - refers to using more of the labor force than necessary
- Waiting - idle time, either via machines or laborers
- Correction - wasted time fixing a problem because it wasn't done correctly the first time
- Motion - wasting time to run errands like pick up parts, etc.

What is Lean Six Sigma?
This brings us to lean six sigma. Lean Six Sigma combines six sigma with lean manufacturing to come up with an effective way to increase overall speed and customer satisfaction. It does so by focusing more on improving process flow and speed than on improving quality by combining the laws of six sigma with that of lean manufacturing. The concept of lean Six Sigma utilizes five different "laws" in order to make the process successful. The Law of Flexibility is the second law of lean six sigma. It states that the speed of a process is dependant upon the workers' ability to switch back and forth among tasks. This is important because the overall goal of six sigma is to increase a company's profits by identifying and then eliminating factors that contribute to waste and customer dissatisfaction.

Lean six sigma has five "laws" that are used to come up with the most efficient way to reduce waste while remaining up to speed. The five laws are:
1. The Law of the Market
2. The Law of Flexibility
3. The Law of Focus
4. The Law of Velocity
5. The Law of Complexity and Cost

The Law of Focus
The Law of Focus states that 20% of the activities in a process cause 80% of the delay. This is also known as the Pareto Principle, or 80/20 rule. Basically, this law states that the main causes of delay in manufacturing result from just 20% of the overall process. As a result, an organization can examine that small percentage of activities that are causing delay. This allows organizations to fix their problems faster. Identifying the 20% of processes that cause the delays is done by taking the time to evaluate processes and see which ones are the most useful and which need to berefocused.

Lean six sigma is best achieved when all laws work together to reduce waste and increase speed. The Law of Focus is just one way this can be done.

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