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Thomas Bertels

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Herbie Is Alive and Well

A recent visit to the local Starbucks near Penn Station was a wonderful illustration of Eliyahu M. Goldratt’s theory of constraints – and a great example for how important real process management is. What was intended to be a reward (a medium café latte with an extra shot of espresso – or in Starbucks lingo,…

The Art of Measuring What Matters

“Ensure that every measure of performance is pertinent to the achievement of a goal or value of your organization. Otherwise, you risk misdirecting the organization.” –Peter Drucker, Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices (Harper & Row, 1974) Even in well-managed, global companies, the failure to measure what matters can lead to unintended consequences. Consider the following real-world…

Six Sigma: A Powerful Strategy for Healthcare Providers

Six Sigma is not for the faint-hearted. It is a challenging strategy to master and execute in for-profit businesses, but even more difficult in the healthcare industry with constraints such as high barriers between the different professional groups, the lack of funds, understaffed and overworked employees, and individualized work procedures that are rarely managed or…

Integrating Lean and Six Sigma

Both the Lean and the Six Sigma methodologies have proven over the last twenty years that it is possible to achieve dramatic improvements in cost, quality, and time by focusing on process performance. Whereas Six Sigma is focused on reducing variation and improving process yield by following a problem-solving approach using statistical tools, Lean is…

Developing Change Leadership by Leveraging Experience

The ability to manage and lead organizational change is in itself a competitive advantage. While companies often have the resources to execute individual improvement projects, the limiting factor in many change efforts is having enough talent to replicate, sustain and expand change efforts once they have been successfully piloted. Companies can leverage existing investments in…

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10 Criteria to Use for Evaluating Six Sigma Projects

Projects are the core of every Six Sigma initiative. Identifying the right projects, having skilled people on board, and providing a proper environment for project execution determines whether the intended process and business results can be achieved and whether Six Sigma will be perceived as a powerful approach to contribute to business success. A relatively…

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Deploying a Measurement System: What Does It Take?

Management concepts such as the balanced scorecard, process management, key performance indicators and strategy deployment have prompted many executives to revisit their measurement systems. As more and more companies have initiated Six Sigma during the last two decades, the use of dashboards to measure process and business performance has become increasingly popular. As a result,…

Promises of Brand Strategy and Design for Six Sigma

“99.44 percent pure” “It takes a licking and keeps on ticking” “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight” “The ultimate driving machine” “We bring good things to life” For recent generations of Americans, the slogans above have become synonymous with the high-profile brands they represent. But these words are not simply clever taglines. They…

A Leadership Roadmap for Managing with Metrics

Nine practical steps that focus on facts and data can provide a roadmap for business leaders at all levels on how to use the Six Sigma method to drive strategy implementation. 1. Start at the Finish Line: Define Strategic Objectives By far the worst use of Six Sigma is on non-strategic issues. Chartering projects with…

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Value Stream Mapping to Identify Improvement Projects

With many companies integrating Lean and Six Sigma methodologies into a single improvement tool kit, value stream mapping has emerged as a preferred tool to identify process improvement opportunities. A number of valuable points can be made about applying value stream thinking to project selection across a range of industries and processes both in the…