I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that when I first heard that we’d be implementing Lean Six Sigma at PPL, I was a skeptic. Big time! Like many others, I am a “one-person IR department.” It is difficult enough just handling the daily functions and activities of our investment recovery operations without having to sit through training for yet another topic of the month. I said to myself, “How can we possibly cut any more from our processes and our manpower? However, having gone through the training, and using just a few easy tools from the Lean toolbox, I am now a believer in the benefits of the Lean Six Sigma approach. That said, Lean doesn’t always mean less work. But it hopefully means fewer problems. Kaizen was one of the tools we used; it is a continuous process of finding and eliminating waste as quickly as possible. It is not about perfecting something, but just making it better. Kaizen requires dissatisfaction with the status quo, which, in turn, results in gradual, continuous improvement. The DMAIC process was another easy Lean tool that we used. Asking the right questions is imperative to be sure we get to the root of the situation or process we want to address. Define: Define the project purpose, scope, importance and customer requirements. Measure: Measure the current process to establish a baseline and identify focused problems. Analyze: Analyze the focused problems to identify and verify root causes. Improve: Improve the process to minimize or eliminate root causes. Control: Control the improvements by using standardized procedures, training and error-proof mechanisms. Tying these tools together proved to be very beneficial for us. We had a Kaizen event at our centralized IR location to address the material flows, pathways, and safe work areas for picking, packing and preparing the materials for shipment. The Kaizen event was simply getting the right people together either at the location or on a conference call to discuss the current process or processes and immediately provide input for the desired outcome. Our centralized IR location is limited in space so we needed to move the materials through safely and quickly. We also needed a process that identified where items should be placed. This meant that our own truck drivers needed to know where to place the material upon arrival so the warehouse support personnel could do their thing and prepare the material for shipment when they were on-site. Being the only dedicated IR person for our company, there are often times I am not at the centralized IR location to help navigate the flow of materials. The process needed to be easy to implement regardless of who was around (or not). This was one of the reasons for having the Kaizen event and using the Lean toolbox…to keep the materials flowing smoothly and safely! Conclusion: The result of using the Lean Six Sigma tools is that PPL now has a much more efficient and safer process for managing the material flow for the surplus received in the IR area. Not all issues can be addressed in one sitting, but I was surprised at how much we accomplished with a minimum of effort.