Before we dive head first into this juicy content, it is probably worthwhile to throw out a disclaimer at the outset of this blog post. I am unreservedly a Lean Six Sigma fan. However, I undertake to be as objective as possible about a topic so close to my heart. The aim of this blog series is to soberly document and share the learnings I have experienced over the past 10 years delivering process improvement projects using the Lean Six Sigma methodology. I unequivocally support the methodology in a “purist-sense” however, what experience has taught me is that Lean Six Sigma projects are not delivered in a perfect world. The aim of this blog series will be to identify common pitfalls and strengths that can assist fellow process improvement specialists (and those starting out) when tackling improvement projects.
Below are a few key lessons I learned along the journey:
- You better have “buy-in”
If Simon Sinek has taught us anything, it is that you need to have a strong “Why?” (Note: if you do not know who Simon Sinek is, I strongly recommend you visit YouTube for his famous “Start With Why” video clip). The reality is that you could have an army of super ninja, Kung Fu Lean Six Sigma black-belts and potentially not deliver an ounce of improvement to the business. If buy-in is not obtained at all levels within the organisation then you are doomed to fail.
This starts at executive level with a mind-set and commitment to adopt the process for change and support the methodology. This commitment needs to be verbal and visible. It should be clear to all within the organisation as to “why” there is a need for change and that the executive team are committed to making the change.
Once the “vision” has been clearly articulated by the executive, there needs to be a constant Change Management plan in place to personalise the Lean Six Sigma vision and objectives for employees. The classic “WIIFM—What’s In It For Me?” strategy is highly recommended at this stage. This brings the message closer to home for employees and ideally should be a driving force behind the change. This strategy needs to be executed at a broader program level, and importantly, at an individual project level.
Continuous Improvement, Kaizen, Lean Six Sigma, etc. are all methodologies that require cultural adoption within an organisation in order to prove effective and sustainable. It needs to become “the way we do things around here…” This requires time, discipline and intelligent planning in order to reap the fruits of a successful Lean Six Sigma deployment.
Please look out for the next instalment coming soon “Do we really listen to the voice of the customer”.
Simon Sinek –
Claudio dalla Venezia