Project scopeissuesare probably one of the top failure modes for LSS projects. If the scope is too narrow, leadership doesn’t view the effort as important and doesn’t support it. Too broad, and the improvements are either never implemented, or aren’t sustained due to poor implementation and control.
Often out of necessity, projects are chartered and scoped with imperfect data and understanding of the problem. (After all, if the solution was known, launching a project would be unnecessary). By design, DMAIC leads the team through a discovery process that can affect the scope or drive the effort in a new direction entirely.
Systems thinking, on the other hand, challenges us to understand the interconnectedness of all things. Such thinking also shows that seemingly discrete processes usually begin and end beyond the defined scope of a LSS project, beyond the boundaries of the department, or even the organization. Firms like Toyota, Rathyeon, Pratt Whitney and others get this – they work with their customers, suppliers, their suppliers suppliers, and so on to achieve more process stability, efficiency, and quality of inputs and outputs.
On many projects, particularly early on in a deployment, it’s not long before the project team starts to see opportunities everywhere – problems their department causes for others, problems they deal with caused by others. Things can quickly snowball until a well- scoped green belt project turns into solving global warming. Then there’s the individual that tries to bolt on their particular hobby horse issue to another project, often only peripherally affecting the problem at hand.
It takes discipline on the part of the champion, the project leader, and the process owner to maintain the scope of an improvement effort, and stay realistic about what can be accomplished within the timeframe and resource availability of a green belt project.
So how do you, LSS practitioners, balance the need to manage scope creep, while keeping attuned to the broader context in which the projects are taking place? Please reply using the comments section.