One of the main reasons I signed-up to Lean Six Sigma was because I had discovered a great set of tools to help me deliver change quicker & better. Through my training I wondered how I had survived so long without sampling & confidence intervals, SPC’s, regression and FMEA. Being able to look at a trend chart and understand that a couple of percent improvement can be statistically insignificant was a real revelation.

But I was wary of was being labelled a black belt. Not because of the negative spin from the naysayers. But because it would imply I was limiting my options for delivering change to only Lean Six Sigma. To me it was a toolset not a life-style.

Now I have been on the job for a couple of years has my view changed?

Well change continues to come in all shapes and sizes. Some basic definitions include:

  • Strategic change – where you realign your business against changing external factors e.g. new competitors and break through technology. This tends to cause widespread change e.g. business acquisitions or the launch of new products.
  • Organisational change – where you realign your people to meet your strategic objectives e.g. developing an off-shore model or moving from field to web-based sales. We tend to term these business transformations.
  • Process change – where you deliver continuously improving processes e.g. meeting cost control targets or improving customer satisfaction.

These types of change are happening all the time in our business and what I have definitely found is DMAIC/DFSS cannot be shoehorned into every situation. But I suspect you all knew that anyway. What I have found is two of theunderlying principles help shape how react to new business issues.

First is “what are the facts”. I don’t rush into solution-mode anywhere near as much as I used to.

Second is “its not what I want to deliver, its what does the customer want”. Its very easy to think about how a new product or process should be designed from the process owners perspective. The discipline is in understanding what the customer wants.

Still not keen on the “black belt” label but I do like the handle “change agent”.


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