Performance Improvement through Partnership and Commitment

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Gainsharing and Lean / Six Sigma

Gainsharing and Lean/Six Sigma are highly complementary systems that are mutually reinforcing. While both efforts are excellent by themselves in improving productivity, quality, and a variety of other measures, both concepts are much more powerful together. Both systems are based on the principles of continuous improvement, measurement, ingenuity, employee involvement, and teamwork. The following provides a general outline of two systems:

  • Lean/Six Sigma, a well-disciplined technical approach, uses specific tools that can be used to make a major break through and large-scale improvements ("big bites"). The focus is on taking big steps and significant innovations in the improvement process. The big steps bring remarkable results, but require more money, technology, and time. On the other hand, if the minor daily improvements are neglected, complacency will overtake the process.
  • Gainsharing is focused on social aspects of the organization and looks to make many of the smaller day-by-day changes that drive continuous improvements. The steady and small improvements lead to significant progress over time. The performance bar continues to rise in daily work activities, the employee mindset, and the way people do their work. Compared to Lean Six Sigma, the focus of Gainsharing is less on technical tools but more on the social and philosophical side of the work place.
  • The level of employee involvement in the Lean/Six Sigma process is much more narrow and limited than that found in Gainsharing. Lean/Six Sigma involves a limited number of employees through performance improvement project teams. On the other hand, Gainsharing attempts to engage the total work force through many different means.
  • A Gainsharing plan also has an ongoing structured system of employee involvement. The involvement structure typically varies by organization, but tends to grow and evolve over time. Initially, involvement may be as minor as conducting regular communication meetings or as major as forming self-directed work teams.
  • Gainsharing helps Lean/Six Sigma address this critical issue: "As we make these improvements, what's in it for me?" Gainsharing provides the all-important link to this question. Gainsharing’s bonus system provides a common focus, “a score.” As performance improves by working smarter, everyone shares. Interestingly, it’s not about the “money;” it’s about the “sharing.” Sharing and its impact on the sense of equity are very powerful, leading to a significant impact on the principles of identity, involvement and commitment.

To Learn more about the link between Gainsharing and Lean Six Sigma, request our most recent article.

Masternak & Associates
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Medina, Ohio 44256
Phone: (330) 725-8970

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