Making the MOST of a problem with Lean Six Sigma

In the coming weeks, we will dive into the world of Lean Six Sigma together, from breaking down basic terminologies to discovering how it promotes a UBC-wide mindset of collaboration, continuous improvement, and growth. These resources will serve as a refresher for those who have completed their Lean Six Sigma White Belt training and a preview for others.

Last week, we learned all about the DMAIC framework and how it serves as a driver of change. In the final part of this series, we will discuss the importance of creating a problem statement and how it helps you make effective and sustainable change at UBC.

What is a problem statement?

When we apply Lean Six Sigma to a project, we begin by defining a key problem or opportunity in an existing process and creating a problem statement.

A problem statement:

  • Clarifies the current situation
  • Shows real-time impacts on customers and the organization
  • Sets the direction of a process improvement project

How to create a robust problem statement?

The first step to creating a robust problem statement is to define the process problem. Lean Six Sigma uses the MOST tool to identify the issue and target the focus of the statement:

  • Measurable: What are the metrics that can be collected about the problem?
  • Observable: What is the performance level of your current process?
  • Specific: What is the impact of the problem on your business and/or customer? What is the cost of consequences of doing nothing?
  • Time: When did the problem start and how long has it been going on?

The next time you create a problem statement, start by asking yourself: Who is the customer? What is the problem that needs to be solved or improved? How long has this problem been going on? For more guidance, please refer to the MOST toolkit, available on the Toolkits & Templates page.

What’s next?

Now that you have established a strong foundation in Lean Six Sigma, the next step to your journey is Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt. Yellow Belt training is coordinated through your supervisor — please speak with them directly if you are interested in strengthening your knowledge of Lean Six Sigma.

We hope this series has been helpful and thank you for playing a vital role in our cultural shift towards operational excellence.