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Lean Six Sigma in Not-For-Profits – part 1 May 13th, 2014

Written by Banu Raghuraman, Director of Marketing & Communications (@banudesigns)

The opinions are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of Endeavour.

Lean Six Sigma (LSS) is a business tool that combines the concepts of both Lean and Six Sigma to improve business efficiency by focusing on eliminating eight different types of waste. Lean concepts focus on the thought process that any task or action that does not contribute to value in the end goal is wasteful and should be eliminated. Six Sigma provides the tools to assist in identifying those wasteful tasks or actions. Together, they aim at making processes more efficient. Although these concepts were developed in the manufacturing sector, in particular production line operation, they are now applied to other industries. (Reference)

Eliminating wasteful tasks and actions can benefit both for-profit organizations and non-profits. For example, by using a better tool to keep track of donor lists, information becomes more handy and accessible for the charity to reach out to a potential donor. This will free up time for staff members to work on something else. Another example would be to use an improved recruitment process so charities are able to hire the best candidate for the position. The benefits are extensive.

Lean Six Sigma concepts allow the organization to identify the activities that are sapping their resources. Once these activities are eliminated, the remaining tasks in the process provide a better return on investment, making the NFP more resourceful.

For example, one of the NFPs I volunteered with had a tough time with volunteer recruitment. As one of their earlier members, who had drifted towards the Training side, I wasn’t aware that the recruitment team had come up with a seven page recruitment form which all applicants had to fill out before working with the NFP. Because the document was so lengthy and time consuming to complete, many applicants were discouraged from volunteering with the organization.. After almost eight months of struggle, someone decided to re-visit the form; due to legalities around the time the form was drafted, it was necessary for the form to be that long. However, the form was quickly out of date. The team continued to use it, since there was no one to point out that the form that had taken many resources to develop was just not useful, and in fact a deterrent to the recruitment process…

Stay tuned for part 2 to read more on this topic.

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