I am referring to an instant cup of coffee generally enjoyed at home or the office with friends and colleagues. Yes, “the perfect cup of coffee” debate is subjective and, thus heavily disputed the world over, by budding coffee connoisseurs alike!
The reason for this is twofold:
1. The subjective nature of the output, in this case, the final product, “the perfect cup of coffee.” The strength (weak or strong), the sweetness, the temperature, caffeinated or decaffeinated, the taste (roasted, boldness, intensity, flavours, etc.) and oddly the cup or mug from which it is consumed?
2. There are numerous factors to consider when making “the perfect cup of coffee”. What raw materials are used – the type or make of instant coffee, brown or white sugar or honey, low fat or full cream milk? Then the volume and ratios of the raw materials to incorporate – the amount of instant coffee to sugar (if any) to milk (if any) to water. Then the assembly of the coffee… what process is followed? Instant coffee first, then milk, then water, then sugar?
The foundation of the Lean Sigma methodology is to reduce variation and get as close to the desired result every time. Important to remember that the desired result is set forward by the client or consumer (Refer to previous blog post on Voice of the Customer for more detail on desired result: http://www.bizwizeconsulting.co.za/do-we-really-listen-to-the-voice-of-the-customer/).
The Lean Sigma approach is systematically geared at scientifically understanding the relationship between the inputs (known as x-variables or milk, water, sugar, etc. in this illustration) to generate the desired output (known as the y-variable or “perfect cup of coffee” in this illustration). This is also known as a cause and effect relationship (see link below for further information).
Applying this methodology assisted me in determining my “perfect cup of coffee” through:
1. Selecting the right composition of raw materials – Planning, setup, procurement (supply chain and inventory management (Economic Order Quantity).
2. Standardising the units of measures used. I.e. always using the same (standard) teaspoon to measure the amount of sugar and instant coffee applied. And, using the same type of coffee cup to ensure that the optimal quantity of water and milk are consistently applied.
3. Standard assembly of “the perfect cup of coffee” – First instant coffee, then sugar, then hot water, then milk.
You can apply the same approach of making “the perfect cup of coffee” to consistently deliver what is required by the client. This can be applied regardless of your industry and the product or service you deliver (see link below for success stories).
Hope this helps you get closer to your “perfect cup of coffee”,