– Submitted by: Aqua Porter, vice president, of Lean Six Sigma Strategy at Xerox

When I read Dr. Carol Marchetti’s blog post back in June about the ways Xerox is using Lean Six Sigma methodologies to improve business processes, I started thinking, if Lean Six Sigma can help the business world, what could it do for my home life?

If anyone followed me around Wegmans, my local grocery store, they would see I don’t exactly take the most direct route around the store. Perhaps if I used some of my lean learnings I would be able to map out the most efficient and effective way of running through the aisles, trim several minutes off my shopping trip and get dinner on the table just a little bit faster.

It seems I’m not alone in wondering if there’s a way to apply a different mindset to my personal life, as many of my colleagues have done the same. Jeff Koff, director of Lean Six Sigma Learning for Xerox, identified a fair amount of wasted time when cutting his grass (he argues that even cutting it is a waste, but his wife disagrees).  He uses a walk behind gas powered mower so every time he got to the end of a row he would slow down his walking pace, stop, change the direction of the mower, and speed up his walking pace again, all non-value added activity and inefficient.

Jeff modified his mowing pattern to start in the center of the yard and cut the grass in a spiral, thus eliminating much of the non-value added activity. He has since developed several variations on the theme; besides the spiral he found a few efficient oval patterns. Jeff said the patterns may look a bit like the background on a ‘60s black light poster, but it’s worth it because he can now use the time saved for something more productive.

LSS_Home_Energy_Use_Chart

Andrea Jacobs, a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt at Xerox, used a Lean Six Sigma approach to reduce her home energy consumption and expense. She started her analysis in 2008 and used the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) method of Lean Six Sigma to cut her energy expenses by 25 percent and shave more than $1,000 off her energy bill. She tracked data and investigated the root causes for high energy consumption and identified solutions to bring down those numbers.  For example, Andrea started to unplug unused appliances and set her water heater to the lowest setting for normal use and to “vacation” when away from home for more than a few days. She even has a chart tracking the projects progress from 2008 to today.

Jeff and Andrea have given me inspiration. No more weaving back and forth and up and down the same aisles at the grocery store. My Lean Six Sigma project starts today! Now I just have to decide what’s for dinner…

–  Aqua Porter, vice president, of Lean Six Sigma Strategy at Xerox   Twitter: @AquaXerox