Six Sigma methods have helped manufacturing operations, healthcare institutions, and countless successful business improve their quality while lowering their costs. While these examples focus on for-profit organizations, Six Sigma training can refine the processes at non-profits as well, especially public libraries.

By implementing an improvement project, the public library can focus on its trouble areas and the entire community will see changes. Six Sigma stresses the importance of choosing a specific process for development. Purchased materials not circulating is one option. Lack of enthusiasm and attendance at library events is another. There are many, but it is important to start with only one.

Identify and refine the process. For example, take the problem of purchased materials not circulating. Which materials exactly? Specifically how many items are not circulating? One possibility would be setting a definitive goal to pinpoint and discontinue the purchase of these materials. Sigma Six encourages having clear and concise records in order to help show employees how to implement change.

Once the process has been analyzed, find where improvements can be made. If you’ve found specifically that one genre of newly purchased books, say paranormal romances, remains on the shelf and not checked out, utilize this information. Continue to keep a close eye on the process and make sure the implemented changes are bringing about positive results. If they are not, consider adjustments. Make a point to find other areas that require change as well.

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