Change Agent

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.

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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”.


Comments 1

  1. Mike Carnell

    Good comments. A few years ago we were asked to fix a deployment that was under delivering in terms of results. The CEO actually determined that as part of his GB project.

    When we looked at the training material that had been used we found that a "Change Management" company had decided that they could fill the role of training the Belts. They taught the entire SS methodology in 3.5 days and the other 4 weeks on change management. Projects ran an average of 355 days. The belts were great at setting up the change and inefficent at coming up with a solution. In other words they could execute change but struggled with what to chage to.

    We retrained in the methodology and they executed as well as the companies they had benchmarked within a year.

    The two disciplines are complimentary and at the risk of resuscitating an old buzz word work synergistically. As you stated you can do Change Management without Six Sigma but why would someone make themselves efficent at implementing change and inefficent at determing what to change to? Obviously there are more methodologies than SS that can be used to determine the solution.


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