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Return On Investment in Education

The September issue of US News & World Report has the most recent rankings of the Best Colleges. However, I think what’s interesting is the article “Is College Still Worth it?” Instead of which college to attend, the question it asks is whether to go to college, given the rising costs at as much as…

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A Smooth Handoff

Making a seamless transition of an improved process from the project leader to the process owner is the topic of “Getting a Grip,” an article in the September/October issue of iSixSigma Magazine. Author Sean Rohen has seen firsthand how the transition can go awry; he is a Champion and Master Black Belt and has worked…

Your Call Is (Not That) Important to Us

I was reading the USAirways in-flight magazine while flying from Philadelphia to Boston the other day. The issue’s Must Read is anexcerpt from Chapter 1 of the book Your Call Is (Not That) Important to Us by Emily Yellin. I thought it was interesting as it is filled with horror stories of how Customer Service…

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It’s always about the people

Recently, someone asked me what I thought to be the biggest mistake of a manager. I believe that managers can get so caught up with processes that they forget about the people. People are what drives an organization. People are not machines, they are emotional. A manager needs to be able to sense the emotional…

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Statistics in Everyday Life

The internet has brought us so much more information. Statistics are often used to support our opinions or views, and they show up in all types of media, including the internet. But are we more informed and educated on issues as common and important as health care? Let’s take a look at some numbers that…

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MBWA = Management by Walking Around

Whether you wear stripes, bars, or stars on your shirt, the environment needed for open communication begins with you. Unfortunately, it is easy to become over-directive in our management styles when burdened with deadlines and our other “important” issues. With so much going on, who has time for idle chat, right? Well, it should be…

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Last Chance for Best Places to Work Nominations!

Time is running out for you to take part in the 2010 iSixSigma’s Best Places to Work™ for Six Sigma Professionals.The deadline for submitting your nomination is Monday, July 26, 2010. There are just two weeks left to send us your nomination, so please visit our Best Places to Work page today and fill out…

Some Assembly Required

I was shopping at IKEA and found a bureau on sale for $30. The display model looked well-made with nice materials and finish. However, as expected, IKEA furniture comes in a box assembly required. No problem as I have plenty of experience. The assembly process took a number of steps: Find a suitable area large…

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Five Why…The Voice of the Next Generation

The “Y” generation is definitely living up to its name. Why, why, why…everything is why these days. It appears that the good old days of say it and obey it are over and behind us. Blind faith leadership is becoming a thing of the past. Personally, I say thank goodness. After all, as Colin Powell…

Energy Forum Makes Lasting Contributions

Top process improvement professionals in the energy sector met recently at the 2010 iSixSigma Live! Energy Forum for Process Excellence, May 24-27, in Houston. Presentations covered a broad range of topics – from innovation to leadership and getting started to giving back. Each of the topics was tailored to the specific needs of professionals in…

One Month Left for Best Places to Work Nominations

Hard as it is to believe, July 4th is almost here, which means that the deadline for submissions for iSixSigma’s Best Places to Work – Monday, July 26, 2010 – is drawing near. Therecognition is an excellent opportunity for companies and employees to celebrate the strength of their Six Sigma programs. The purpose of iSixSigma’s…

Managing Crisis

The June 14 issue of Fortune magazine featured an interview with Vanguard CEO William McNabb as a part of their C-Suite series. McNabb became CEO on August 31, 2008, two weeks before Lehman Brothers failed. Many more companies lost employees, customers, and certainly, a lot of money during the crisis. In contrast, Vanguard emerged stronger,…

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Training Leaders to Think LEAN

Since 2004, Sheriff John Rutherford has being fostering a culture of continuous improvement throughout the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO). With over 3000 employees having received initial roll out training, a full fledged division that bears the continuous improvement title, a dedicated steering committee comprised of top level executives to help ensure every project’s success, and…

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10 Ways To Blow Your Next Lean Event

A well-run event can be cathartic, exciting, and extremely effective. A poorly run one wastes a lot of people’s time, money, and at worst, vaporizes everyone’s motivation to support any future quality activities. In either case, you can be sure that people will spread the word about how it went.   In no particular order,…

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Lean Six Sigma As a Law Enforcement Tool

Like many of the tools available for law enforcement officers today, Lean Six Sigma (LSS) process improvement methodologies are only as good as the officer’’s skill level, trained in its use. Firearms, TASERs, pepper spray, batons, are all examples of what law enforcement officers, the world over, are required to achieve proficiency with before hitting…

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Lean Ceiling Paint

As we prepare for the arrival of our second child, we’ve decided to repaint the nursery. If you’ve ever tried painting a ceiling before, you know how easy it is to miss spots. Rather than go with normal ceiling paint, we opted for a special paint that goes on pink, and dries white. Pros call…

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And the Revolution Continues

I am fresh off of the American Society of Quality’s World Conference on Quality and Improvement. It was an outstanding idea forum that charged me up and allowed me to press some of the key thought leaders in Lean/Six Sigma/Quality on this idea of the need for innovation WITHIN the process improvement community. I was…

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Not So Fast

OK, we’ve got our kaizen team going full speed ahead, and one of the improvements will be to replace the central printer with individual desk printers to avoid interruptions and transportation waste. Workers won’t have to get up and walk to get their forms. Hooray! “But,” one of the workers says, “we like getting up…

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Tan-O-Meter

We home educate our children and one approach we take is to think up and solve problems. When solving one of these, “how can you measure how tall a tree is?”, the Tan-o-meter was born! The maths is straightforward. You measure yourdistance from the treeand the angle to the top of the tree. Multiply the…

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Closest to the Worker

I’ve used the phrase “closest to the customer” when explaining some aspects of lean – for example, starting improvements with the process closest to the customer outcome then working backwards in the process. Lately, I’ve been using the phrase “closest to the worker” to get people to think about removing non-value-added effort from out processes….

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(Waste) Walk on the Wild Side

Ina recent blog post, I mentioned a Waste Walk – and got a few queries about what that is. I see that I have assumed that everyone’s lean toolkit has the same tools, so I apologize for my assumption! Here’s some more information. Most lean approaches use a list of7 or 8 wastes to describe…

Customer Focus

We have all heard a lot about “customer focus” in our work. But what does it really mean? How much has “bringing customer focus to the organization” helped you change the culture and improve the long-term performance of the business? What has been your customer’s response to it? Lean Six Sigma has brought more concrete…

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‘Whatta They Got That I Ain’t Got?”

I teach a full-day workshop called “Lean Boot Camp.” It’s an introduction to small-scope projects and tools, the kind you can do as a beginner like 5S and a Waste Walk. I use a phrase that I picked up somewhere: “The lean approach is simply having the ability to see waste, and the courage to…

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Training Trends

Which delivery method of Six Sigma training do you prefer? How have curriculums been changing? What’s working – and what isn’t? Participate in a short iSixSigma survey on Six Sigma Training to find out. The results will be published in the July/August issue of iSixSigma Magazine. As a token of our appreciation for participating, we will…

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Lead Time vs. Cycle Time

Lead Time and Cycle Time are two important metrics in Lean and process improvement in general. However, many people do not seem to understand the difference and their relationship. In fact, many use them interchangeably. This can lead to confusion in understanding the true problems in a process, and worse, poor decisions in process improvement….

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Benched

I’ve participated in a lot of projects where one of the first questions is: How are our competitors doing it? Are there any benchmarks or nationally-recognized “best practices?” While this may give a team a sense of security, or help to push stretch goals, sometimes I think it stifles creativity. If we are developing, or…

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Six Sigma: Misunderstood

I recently read a blog on GE Healthcare’s website. http://nextlevel.gehealthcare.com/cost/a-child-of-our-own.php Although the general idea of needing better ways to improve healthcare systems is valid, I cannot agree with the underlying interpretation of what Lean and Six Sigma are. It seems to me many people view Lean and Six Sigma as 1. tools for solving specific…

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Chain of Command and Its Effect on Empowering Employees

Lean Six Sigma has special challenges in organizations that have a military styled rank structures. I have personally experienced this as a Representative of a law enforcement agency and as a military guardsman. Recently, I have had the good fortune of making the acquaintance of Retired Colonel Billy Asbell, former Director for the Air National…

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What’s in your leadership toolbox? Is it enough?

Supervisors never “earn” the privilege to be disrespectful to subordinates simply because they have achieved a higher rank. This can be an indication that they have been promoted beyond their ability to lead and digress to using intimidation as a resource to get things done. If you find yourself using positional authority to get things…

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How I Became a Black Belt

Lean Six Sigma is still fairly new to the R&D people in the biotech and pharmaceutical industry, where I have been supporting its deployment. Often people ask me “What is Lean Six Sigma?” and “How did you become a Black Belt from a scientist?” I used to give a textbook answer to the first question…

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The People Behind Six Sigma Culture

iSixSigma often focuses on the continuous process improvement methods used by companies to achieve bottom-line results. However, for much of our March/April 2010 issue, published last week, we look not just at the processes but also at the at the professionals behind the methodology. In keeping with this issue’s theme, “Building a Process Improvement Culture,”…

Call Me Aesop

If you are engaged in teaching, whether formally in classes or informally as you facilitate projects, you probably have a few favorite sayings that you like to use toremind people of important points. I take my blog title today from the ancient teacher Aesop, who liked to close his fables (usually stories with animal characters)…

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Highlights from the 2009 Energy Forum

At the iSixSigma Live! 2009 Energy Forum for Process Excellence, leaders from across the energy industry shared how they are implementing process improvement efforts at their organizations. Some common questions and lessons learned – about methodology, implementation and benefits – came up over the course of the three-day event. Here are a few highlights. Combining…

Culture Change at Cameron

Again and again, culture change comes up as one of the most important aspects of a successful Six Sigma deployment. Yet effecting culture change is one of the most difficult parts to master. Almost 50 percent of respondents to a 2007 iSixSigma survey said their company was far from achieving its desired culture change (“Organizational…

Lean Six Sigma: What’s in it for me?

As practitioners, we think Lean Six Sigma is an integral part of our life. But how can we help others see its value? This is a crucial step to building and sustaining a Lean Six Sigma culture. One thing I learned through the Lean Six Sigma deployment is that people have to be personally motivated…

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DoD to Focus on Four Improvement Areas During Convention

Leaders from across the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), including the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and various agencies and activities, will gather Oct. 22 to 23, 2008 in Washington, D.C., to discuss the state of the department’s Lean Six Sigma deployment. The event, named the Breakthrough Convention and produced by iSixSigma Live! is an…

2004 Six Sigma Salary Survey: Worldwide

iSixSigma’s 2004 Salary Survey for Six Sigma Professionals: Worldwide This section of iSixSigma’s 2004 Salary Survey for Six Sigma Professionals provides an overview of the average salaries worldwide. Salaries for Black Belts (BB), Master Black Belts (MBB), Champions (CH) and Deployment Leaders (DL) are broken down by levels of education and experience, as well as…

2004 Six Sigma Salary Survey: U.S./Canada

iSixSigma’s 2004 Salary Survey for Six Sigma Professionals: U.S./Canada This section of iSixSigma’s 2004 Salary Survey for Six Sigma Professionals provides an overview of the average salaries in United States/Canada. Salaries for Black Belts (BB), Master Black Belts (MBB), Champions (CH) and Deployment Leaders (DL) are broken down by levels of education and experience, as…

2004 Six Sigma Salary Survey: Europe

iSixSigma’s 2004 Salary Survey for Six Sigma Professionals: Europe This section of iSixSigma’s 2004 Salary Survey for Six Sigma Professionals provides an overview of the average salaries in Europe. Salaries for Black Belts (BB), Master Black Belts (MBB), Champions (CH) and Deployment Leaders (DL) are broken down by levels of education and experience, as well…

2004 Six Sigma Salary Survey: Pacific Nations

iSixSigma’s 2004 Salary Survey for Six Sigma Professionals: Pacific Nations This section of iSixSigma’s 2004 Salary Survey for Six Sigma Professionals provides an overview of the average salaries in Pacific Nations (Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Pacific islands). Salaries for Black Belts (BB), Master Black Belts (MBB), Champions (CH) and Deployment Leaders (DL) are broken down by…

The Global Salary Survey for Six Sigma Professionals

iSixSigma’s 2004 Salary Survey for Six Sigma Professionals has two unique perspectives. First, the survey provides a global view. Second, unlike other quality salary surveys, this one is focused as specifically as possible on Six Sigma professionals. By Matthew LeVeque, iSixSigma Senior Contributing Writer During the past 10 years Six Sigma has become one of…

2004 Six Sigma Salary Survey: Asia/Africa

iSixSigma’s 2004 Salary Survey for Six Sigma Professionals: Continental Asia/Africa This section of iSixSigma’s 2004 Salary Survey for Six Sigma Professionals provides an overview of the average salaries in Continental Asia/Africa. Salaries for Black Belts (BB), Master Black Belts (MBB), Champions (CH) and Deployment Leaders (DL) are broken down by levels of education and experience,…

You, Too, Tube?

I never cease to be amazed at the amount of information that’s “out there” on the web. I searched on “Lean Six Sigma” and got about a million hits. “Process Improvement” – 3.6 million.”Change Management” – 6.2 million. “Project Management” – 32 million. But lately I’ve been using an additional source of information-the ever-growing on-line…

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