Investigation and modelling lean six sigma barriers in service industries: a hybrid ISM-Fuzzy MICMAC approach

Publication Name

Measuring Business Excellence


Purpose: The success rate of Lean Six Sigma (LSS) in the service industries is dismally poor, and most organisations discontinue LSS initiatives prematurely. This paper aims to identify the LSS barriers (LSSBs) and analyse their interaction via a hierarchical model developed by using interpretive structural modelling (ISM) and Fuzzy Matriced Impacts Croise’s Multiplication Appliqué à un Classement (MICMAC). These allow the LSS execution and implementation to be much more effective and avoid the high cost of implementation. Design/methodology/approach: A structural review of the literature and interviews with experts and professionals from the service industries in the UAE supplied data wherewith to identify LSSBs. Sixteen LSSBs were determined and analysed using ISM and the MICMAC approach to discover the strong drivers and highly dependent barriers. The Fuzzy set was included in the MICMAC analysis to obtain a more precise output and create an effective hierarchical model of the barriers. Findings: The research findings suggest that the top barriers to LSS implementation in service industries are lack of top management commitment, lack of customer focus, resistance to change management and lack of alignment between the LSS and organisational strategy. A deeper analysis using the Fuzzy-MICMAC approach categorises these barriers on the basis of their driving power and dependency. Research limitations/implications: The relationships between paired LSSBs were obtained through an experts’ interpretations of limited numbers in one country. Conducting a large-scale survey with a more comprehensive demographic or deep focus in one service industry might deepen our understanding of the interactions of LSSBs and models. Practical implications: The developed ISM that model suggests that the dependencies and relationships among the barriers must be accurately determined so as to remove the collaborative effect of barriers on the implementation process is at the earliest opportunity. This would improve service companies’ competitive advantage and profitability, drive out waste and reduce the cost associated with poor quality. Similarly, academicians may advocate ways in various issues can contribute to improve LSSBs for amended LSS implementation now that business services are booming in the fourth industrial revolution. Originality/value: The structural model was developed holistically on the basis of the inputs from practitioners and academicians to ensure its practical validity. Though the model has theoretical foundations, its practical applicability is a key factor in its development, so this approach was helpful for practitioner wanted to focus on removing the key dominant barriers and be able to deploy LSS concepts smoothly in service industries. The results support the proposition that top management is a crucial factor for LSS project implementation, whatever the complexity of the research methodology and the nature of the service industries.

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