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Learning from Success

In my blog about a year ago, “How I became a Black Belt“, I wrote about Lean Six Sigma being “simply a scientific approach to problem solving and learning.” I am sure everyone understands LSS as a problem-solving methodology. But how does Lean Six Sigma help us learn? First, let’s look at some common barriers…

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RF Day 3: Sessions Share Insights on VOC, Business Transformation

The conference portion of the 2011 iSixSigma Retail Forum for Process Excellence concluded on Wednesday afternoon, March 30, with three case studies, a panel discussion and a keynote address. The four-day event officially wraps up on Thursday, March 31, with a post-conference workshop and a benchmarking tour of Best Buy headquarters. All total, the 2011…

RF Day 3: Tips on Talent Management, Plus Six Great Case Studies

An all-star lineup of speakers shared best practices and lessons learned during the morning sessions on Day 3 (Wednesday, March 30) at the iSixSigma Retail Forum for Process Excellence. The conference runs through Thursday, March 31, at the Westin Edina Galleria in suburban Minneapolis. Jess Elmquist, the senior vice president of Life Time University and…

RF Day 2: Macy’s, Best Buy and Many Others Share Best Practices

Macy’s, CVS and Best Buy. Oh my! Those were just three of the companies that shared their stories of process improvement success during the afternoon session on Day 2 (Tuesday, March 29) of the iSixSigma Retail Forum for Process Excellence. The conference is being held through Thursday, March 31, at the Westin Edina Galleria in…

RF Day 2: AMEX, Kaj Ahlmann, Walmart, Target Among Morning Highlights

Stories of innovation, growth and business transformation were shared during morning sessions on Day 2 (Tuesday, March 29) of the iSixSigma Retail Forum for Process Excellence, being held at the Westin Edina Galleria in suburban Minneapolis. The four-day conference runs through Thursday, March 31. Keynote sessions this morning were delivered by Tim Wilson, the vice…

Outstanding Workshops Kick Off Retail Forum for Process Excellence

iSixSigma’s inaugural Retail Forum for Process Excellence opened on Monday, March 28, with six hours of educational workshops. The conference runs through Thursday, March 31 at the Westin Edina Galleria in suburban Minneapolis. Robert Hafey, the president of RBH Consulting and the author of the book “Lean Safety – Transforming Your Safety Culture Using Lean…

Excitement Builds for First Retail Forum Keynotes

With just a few days to go, excitement is building for the iSixSigma Live! inaugural Retail Forum for Process Excellence, March 28-31. For four days next week all eyes in the process improvement world will focus on the Twin Cities region, as business leaders and operational experts gather at The Westin Galleria, in Edina, Minn.,…

A Fond Farewell

The time has come for me to bid you adieu. I have really enjoyed the opportunity to share my thoughts and get feedback from you, so I thank you for allowing me to discuss my opinions about lean, six sigma, change management, leadership, and healthcare. It’s been almost 5 years to the day since Michael…

Asset Management

It’s been awhile since my last post. In October 2010 I secured a new role in our institutional asset management business in the City of London. Ever since I’ve been head-down learning the business and working furiously to pass my investment management exams so I can appear credible and add value. My role is front-office…

What’s Inside the March/April Issue

The latest issue of iSixSigma Magazine reveals the top 10 Best Places to Work, analyzes the results of our 8th annual Salary Survey and discusses the latest training trends. In its March/April issue, iSixSigma Magazine focuses on Training and Certification, offering advice for Lean Six Sigma trainers, as well as an investigation into some of…

Piggybacking Air Filters to Save Shipping Costs

Cummins operates three plants San Luis Potosi, Mexico, which produce and ship products daily to distribution centers in the United States. These plants produce systems such as reconditioned engines, alternators, and filtration and exhaust systems. Two of the three plants were looking for ways to reduce the high costs of trucking the products, so Rebecca…

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Edutainment Has Its Place Within the Change Initiative

There are two schools of thought when it comes to engaging employees … either in training or for roles within a change initiative. One says that it is perfectly fine (even necessary) to infuse such efforts with elements of entertainment, creativity … (dare we say) fun. The other says that such frivolity should be avoided…

Correlation and Variation

Six Sigma projects differ from traditional projects in one important requirement – understanding of the Y=f(x) relationship with data before developing or implementing a solution. In the DMAIC framework, we identify, test and verify the causal relationship between a potential root cause (x) and the outcome (Big Y), and then develop a solution to change…

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Culture Change from the Ground Up

I received a very nice comment today from a team member of a lean project. She said, “You know, I didn’t want to be on this team. My boss made me attend. I didn’t think anyone was going to care about my opinion, and I wasn’t sure what I could contribute. Also I was very…

The Top 20 Tweets from Day 3 at iSixSigma Live! Summit and Awards

There has been plenty of buzz at the 2011 iSixSigma Live! Summit & Awards, being held this week at the Doral Golf Resort & Spa in Miami. iSixSigma’s team of reporters have been blogging and Tweeting throughout the event. Here are 20 of the most interesting things heard and noted on iSixSigma’s Twitter account (http://twitter.com/iSixSigma)…

Checking In with Starwood’s Evolving Lean Six Sigma Program

Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone?… Well, almost gone. After 10 years of ups, downs and near cancellations, the Lean Six Sigma team at Starwood Hotels and Resorts, North America, knows what it’s like to see years of hard work nearly wiped out by mistakes…

Use Scrum to Implement Solutions Quickly and Effectively

What is Scrum and how can it help you in your Lean Six Sigma efforts? That was the topic of a breakout session presented by Brad Zylstra of Volt Information Services on Tuesday, Feb. 8, at the iSixSigma Live! Summit & Awards in Miami. Zylstra, the Vice President of Strategic Business Services and Support at…

A Holistic Approach to Process Improvement

Eric Michrowski of TELUS provided an excellent learning session at the iSixSigma Live! Summit & Awards on Tuesday, Feb. 8, at the Doral Golf Resort and Spa in Miami. Michrowski – the Director of the Process Improvement Center of Excellence and Lean Deployment Leader at this full-service, Canada-based telecommunications provider – shared with the audience…

Re-energizing Your Blended E-learning Program

Continuing Monday’s e-learning workshops track, Master Class D, “Creating, Sustaining or Re-energizing a Blended E-learning Program,” focused on the various trends and new iterations of the “blended learning” model of internet-based and classroom training programs. John Best, vice president and managing director of The Quality Group, led an interactive discussion with attendees about how to…

Live from iSixSigma Live! Summit and Awards – Day 2

  Excitement and learning continues to build at the 2011 iSixSigma Live! Summit & Awards, behind held this week at the Doral Golf Resort and Spa in Miami. Featured activities for today (Feb. 8) include several general-session keynotes and addresses, 11 program sessions and two panel discussions. The day opens up with an opening address…

Building More Capable Belts Using Simulation Tools

To kick off the 3rd annual iSixSigma Live! Summit & Awards, our annual chance to gather as a community and share continuous improvement tips face to face, it felt a bit strange to spend much of the first day discussing ways to train future Belts by way of the internet. But after the three-hour Master…

Live from the iSixSigma Live! Summit and Awards

By Paul V. Arnold, Editor-in-chief, iSixSigma The 2011 iSixSigma Live! Summit & Awards kicks off today, Feb. 7, at the Doral Golf Resort and Spa in Miami. Today’s featured activities include the iSixSigma Project Bowl and four Master Class Workshops. The Project Bowl – sponsored by CS International, Minitab and MoreSteam.com – is a daylong…

European Wind Project Embraces Lean

With assistance from Spanish wind-turbine manufacturer Gamesa, nonprofit foundation Tekniker and several other European technology firms, COSMOS seeks increases in turbine quality, as well as lower costs and faster manufacturing times, according to a release from Ibermática. According to the COSMOS consortium, many European turbine assembly operations involve both manual labor and work done by…

Guest Blog: Strategic Business Improvement in the New Economy – Part 2

Most organizations are emerging from largest recession and slow recovery since the Great Depression. Unfortunately, the reactionary and inconsistent leadership responses to the meltdown have become the new cultural norm in organizations, taking culture backwards and destroying their ability to improve anything. Organizations have placed a “freeze” on improvement when they need it the most….

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Guest Blog: Strategic Business Improvement in the New Economy – Part 1

Most organizations are emerging from largest recession and slow recovery since the Great Depression. Unfortunately, the reactionary and inconsistent leadership responses to the meltdown have become the new cultural norm in organizations, taking culture backwards and destroying their ability to improve anything. Organizations have placed a “freeze” on improvement when they need it the most….

There’s an L before Lean

I have a new saying for the new year: There’s an “L” before lean, and it’s Leadership. I’ve been saying this because I want to emphasize that lean is not the magic bullet that will cure disgruntled employees, overwhelmed staff, and broken processes… without effort from leaders. Over the years, as I have given lean…

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What’s Inside the January/February 2011 Issue

In its January/February issue, iSixSigma Magazine focuses on “Enhancing the Customer Experience.” What better way to explore that theme than through a look at retail giant Best Buy? In this profile, find out how the company is using Lean Six Sigma to satisfy both internal and external customers. The issue also offers how-to advice for…

Starwood: Still Changing After All These Years

When the core of your business is about running more than 1,000 upscale hotels around the world, you learn a thing or two about meeting the needs of demanding customers. In 2001, Starwood Hotels and Resorts – owner of such famous hotel brands as Sheraton, Westin, W and Le Meridien – embarked on a Six…

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Some Assembly Required, II

After doing Continuous Improvement for some time, I started noticing improvement opportunities everywhere, in everyday life. Here is a recent example. With holidays and vacation days coming last December, I was going to get my basement organized and needed some shelf space. After reading some positive product reviews online, I bought two 48″ (wide) heavy…

Understanding the Five Stages of Tribal Leadership

Most practitioners – even those with successful Six Sigma deployments – need to stand back periodically and reassess their continuous process improvement (CPI) efforts. Does information flow freely among team members? Are conflicts being resolved effectively? Does each team member feel valued? This need for Lean Six Sigma teams to refuel, refresh and recharge is…

Management Innovation

Lean Six Sigma is commonly viewed as a continuous improvement method to enhance quality and reduce costs. It’s better known for its tools than for its philosophy or underlying principles. With only superficial use of the tools, we risk missing the true power and opportunity of Lean Six Sigma as a management method to strategically…

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Catching Up with iSixSigma’’s Editorial Advisory Family

The holiday season is a time when people count their blessings, celebrate the warmth of family and look forward to a fresh start to the new year. The same holds true at iSixSigma, on both a personal and professional level. Last week, in a virtual conference call, the editorial team at iSixSigma held a “reunion”…

Training in Statistics

Recently I learned that my companyâ??s Green Belt training no longer includes hypothesis testing; it will now be part of Black Belt training.  Is this a right decision?  I think it is, because the goal of Six Sigma training is to develop the concept of variation and use it to understand the problem, not to…

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Global Problem Solving with TRIZ

To help celebrate the 10th anniversary of the TRIZ Future Conference, hosted by the European TRIZ Association (ETRIA), Nov. 3-5, 2010, we present the following excerpts from Domb’s extensive coverage. DAY 1 Function-oriented search is a problem-solving tool based on global knowledge search, using functions as the key search items. In his presentation, speaker Simon…

More than Profits

Last week GlaxoSmithKline agreed to pay $750 million to settle charges related to bad products. In their press release, they stated: “We regret that we operated the Cidra facility in a manner that was inconsistent with current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) requirements and with GSK’s commitment to manufacturing quality. GSK worked hard to resolve fully…

Excess Capacity?

In my blog a few weeks ago I mentioned an article in McKinsey Quarterly about removing barriers to knowledge worker interactions. I pointed out a hidden barrier: lack of concentration or too much work-in-process (WIP), which slows down knowledge worker interactions. In that article, physical barriers were cited as common, especially in many large global…

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What’s Inside the November/December Issue

The latest issue of iSixSigma Magazine explores the Six Sigma deployment in Ford Motor Co.’s powertrain division, the world of metrics and more. iSixSigma Magazine’s November/December issue introduces readers to the more than 10-year-old Six Sigma deployment at Ford’s powertrain division, and provides an in-depth look at the what, when and why of metrics. With…

iSixSigma Live! Social Lights Up Phoenix

Earlier this month, iSixSigma Live! held the second of its three scheduled Social and Networking Parties for the quality community this fall. For the nearly 40 Six Sigma professionals in attendance at this event in the Greater Phoenix area, the Social was a rare chance for practitioners to strengthen old ties, meet new contacts, chat…

Has “Big Brass Fever” Infected Your Agency?

Recently, I had the privilege of viewing several Air Force presentations that introduced lean six sigma methodologies to senior leaders. The training was developed by the University of Tennessee’s, Center for Executive Education. I highly recommend their courses of instruction for any agency moving forward with Lean Six Sigma. I found particularly useful one of…

Cost Cutting vs. Waste Reduction

As hard as it can be to cut costs in this tough economic environment, it’s harder to sustain the reduction once it’s achieved. “Five ways CFOs can make cost cuts stick” (McKinsey Quarterly May 2010) illustrated exactly this challenge and concluded that “Companies must improve their processes and capabilities if they hope to reduce or…

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Knowledge Worker Productivity

Lean and Six Sigma have helped many organizations improve quality and productivity in their manufacturing and transactional processes. However, applying these methodologies remains a challenge in a knowledge work environment, such as the life sciences, based on my 15+ years of experience at various companies –from a start-up to a global pharmaceutical giant, as well…

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iSixSigma Live! Social Returns to Seattle

After a brief hiatus, the iSixSigma Live! Social & Networking Party returned last week, with the first event taking place in Seattle, welcoming nearly 70 Six Sigma professionals from the Puget Sound region. Held on the top floor of the popular Rock Bottom Brewery in Bellevue, Wash., the Social drew continuous improvement professionals from the…

Leader Influence

Change management is seen as an essential component of many corporate initiatives, such as Six Sigma.Sponsors are identified, consultants are hired, and people are trained and deployed as change agents. Employees seem to embrace the change as demonstrated by their enthusiasm for training and certification, and resistance seems to be under control as few question…

Productivity of an Aging Workforce

CBS News recently had a report about “How BMW Deals with an Aging Workforce.” To develop solutions to overcome loss of productivity due to the aging workforce, BMW tested one assembly line by staffing it with workers with an average age of 47, the projected age of the entire workforce in 2017. They made 70…

Are You a Six Sigma Type?

It has been over 5 years since I moved from R&D and manufacturing roles to continuous improvement, both leading projects and supporting Lean Six Sigma deployment. As a CI professional, what I enjoy most is the opportunity to work on the most challenging issues facing the organization, to learn and improve myself by practicing the…

New Chapter

It’s been a while since I blogged, I have been working for just over a year on a huge IT project to pay the invoices for our property and motor suppliers via XML. Job done and I am moving into a new role.   I am joining Aviva Investors – our Asset Management division –…

iSixSigma Live! Awards Right Around the Corner

With the Labor Day weekend almost here, the iSixSigma Live! Awards materials deadline of Oct. 18, 2010, is drawing near. Have you sent in your nominations yet? These prestigious awards are the perfect way to acknowledge outstanding Lean Six Sigma projects and programs, and honor the personnel who have continuously improved processes at your organization….