This week I was starting up another green belt training. As usual I kicked it off by asking the participants presenting to each other who they are, what department they come from, if and what they have heard about lean six sigma and most importantly what they expect from the training. I ask them to write down their expectations on a yellow sticky note, because I use it in the last hour of the training in a couple of weeks time to check if the training met the initial expectations.

The average participant expectations are: understanding DMAIC basics, being able to perform DMAIC driven improvements in the day to day operational tasks, knowing how to describe processes, data analysis, … Occasionally you can hear some hidden skepticism, some doubts about the six sigma approach. Usually these are expressed rather by voice tonality and body language, rather than choice of words.

However, this time, I had a real outlier in this process, but at the same time it’s a classic text book example. One participant presented his expectations like this (translated from Dutch): “My expectations are that hopefully you can’t meet the expectations. I’ve seen so many improvement programs, here and at previous employers and until now I have seen no initiative lasting longer then a couple of months. They all fade away after a while, they are just temporary flavors. Anyway, I don’t think this “Six Sigma thing” will be different”.

This is what I said: “I won’t go into a yes/no discussion with you now. I just hope you enjoy the training and take away the important messages. Off course, there is always a residual level of continuous improvement in any organisation. With Lean Six Sigma we are running a program that is structuring and reinforcing all the good improvement ideas that individuals have in the organisation. On top of that we are doing this from an outside-in perspective, putting our customers in a central place. At the end of the course you will all be invited to complete a training evaluation sheet – your Voice of the Customer.”

On the 7 evaluation questions this person scored in average 4,25 out of 7, which is the maximum score. Scored on individual questions ranged from 3 to 5. A score of less then 4, we consider a defect, as it indicates room for improvement. Seems this Six Sigma thing might be a little different after all.

I’m already looking forward for discussing the final evaluation with this person.

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