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Quality Conversations

On Monday, Sept 14, I’ll be speaking with Steve Wilson on his show Quality Conversations, hosted by blogtalkradio. Steve has interviewed many quality professionals in the past, including Tom Kubiak, Forrest Breyfogle,Mark Graban and our very own iSixSigma editor-in-chief, Jessica Harper. I am happy to join the ranks of Steve’s guest list. We’re going to…

The Religion Behind Mandated Leadership

If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about the effect the current economy is having on businesses, it’s the polarization of Six Sigma. Programs have either been seen as the reverent coming of the messiah or the two-bit television evangelist that needs to be turned off and forgotten about. For those companies that feel they are…

Open Season For Awards

iSixSigma is pleased to announce the opening of award nominations for the iSixSigma Live! Summit & Awards in Miami in February 2010. Here’s what we arelooking for: * iSixSigma’s Six Sigma Hall of Fame: iSixSigma will recognize individuals who have significantly impacted corporate growth and shareholder value through the use of Lean Six Sigma by…

The Best Place to Work

Nominations are open for iSixSigma’s second annual Best Places to Work List. If you are working for a top notch company using Lean Six Sigma, go ahead and nominateit to be included in ourlist of Best Places to Work. Last year 10 companies made the list. McKesson took home the #1 spot, followed by Vought…

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Will the Real Process Owner Please Stand Up?

When I was leading a department, I never thought of myself as a process owner. It wasn’t in my job description, and I never heard anyone used the term. It’s one of those useful concepts that I wish I had known, prior to my Six Sigma and Lean education. Here’s my working definition: The process…

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My Favorite Tools

Well, maybe I have more than one favorite tool – but there are 2 that arefun to use with a group. One is sticky-note brainstorming. It avoids the perils of the regular “everybody call out their ideas” brainstorming, because (a) you get 100% participation; (b) you can get LOTS of ideas in just a few minutes;…

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The Great Healthcare Debate

While the iSixSigma.com site has been down, the rhetoric about “fixing healthcare” in the US has dramatically heated up. “We need to take the waste out of healthcare!” “We’re paying too much for healthcare!””Everyone should get all the healthcare they need regardless of cost!” Without getting into the political debate, let’s just touch on these…

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Why is Quality Planning So Much of an Afterthought?

It’s really interesting for me to look back and think about how many times quality planning has come up as an afterthought. It is staggering for me to think about what could have happened if quality planning was done the proper way. Here’s an example….one time I was involved with a new product introduction, and…

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Parachute in the Fire Fighter

Organisation in chaos? Emergencies erupting? Been blind-sided by the unexpected? Project a few years late and still does not work? Need to get things under control? Make way for the Corporate Fire Fighter. (Phew!) This trusted pair of hands hits the ground running….makes rapid assessment of situation….. takes urgent action …… reports an outstanding success…

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iSixSigma Conference Survey

iSixSigma Live! wants to know what you want out of an in-person event.We invite you to participate in a short survey about business process improvement conferences. How many conferences do you attend a year? What do you expect out of a conference? Where would you like to see the next iSixSigma Live! event? These are…

Training: Enough, Already?

I enjoy teaching, so if you asked me whether you could do too much training, my first response would be “no, of course not!” But, on second thought, I would have to say, “well, maybe.” It’s been my experience that knowledge alone is usually not enough to create an improvement. A lot of people enjoy…

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Mapping a Path to the W.O.W. Side

Consistently delighting customers and providing exceptional handling of issues and errors using the R.A.P.I.D. methodology are two ways to create customer W.O.W. (What’s Needed – On Time – With Value).

What is truth?

Over the last 5 years I have invested considerable time & energy in trying to become a skilled continuous improvement practitioner. I am a strong believer in continual learning via direct deployment experience. Over this same period, continuous improvement has become a main-stream product. Any business without an Operational Excellence, Process Improvement, Process Excellence, Continual…

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Getting the Word Out

When I begin a new project, I include a Communication Plan as part of my team work. That is, we take the stakeholder list and think about who we need to be in communication with, as we move through the project phases. Some of you may do this based on an ARMI exercise (Approvers/ Resources/…

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Practical Use of Control Plans

Now more than ever, the development and use of control plans play a critical role in succesfully implementing a new process. In my past, I have seen varying ways that control plans have been implemented, but I still struggle a little when I try to find a really good example of control plan development. To…

Ready for Change… Almost!

You’ve completed your planning phase – whether it’s specifying value and mapping the value stream, Defining / Measuring / Analyzing, or Planning – and you’re ready to move into Creating Flow, Improving, or Doing. Hooray! The pilot plan has been finalized, the Process Owner says it’s fine, the team is ready to move forward. And…

Swansong

Time are topsy-turvy, and change is in the air. My role has evolved away from Six Sigma over the past several months, and my readers – both of you – may have noticed I’ve been posting here less and less. This will be my last post. Thanks for all the comments and emails. It’s been…

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Culture Change Keynote at the Energy Forum

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

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Focusing on Supply Chains

With a timely theme of ‘Completing the Chain’, the May/June 2009 issue of iSixSigma Magazine mailed last week. The cover story, ‘A Stronger Chain’, focuses on how companies are wielding Six Sigma and Lean to strengthen their supply chains. As companies examine how to get the most out of their efforts, they are reaching outside…

Leadership – Important Now More Than Ever

Recently James Considine and Stephen Crate have posted about management styles….and their posts have really made me think about management and leadership in general, especially during these challenging times… From my perspective, you have to lead people to achieve results. If you are a manager, indeed your job is to manage the business, but to…

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Small Things

I’ve attended a lot of leadership development courses over the years, and received many handouts, folders, and binders chock full of ways to make myself into a better manager… of people, time, money, etc. One precept that has stuck with me is that we should pay attention tothe small things that are annoyances today, so…

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Management by Brutality is MUDA

I can not help but wonder if there is a Six Sigma tool for managers to use before they decide to administer discipline or impose a behavior intervention to a poorly performing employee. Management style is one of the key factors affecting high employee morale, optimum functioning and low turnover. When high morale is present,…

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Three Great Workshops at the Energy Forum

There’s no time like the present to study up and learn a few new strategies. I’m a big fan of continuing education and benchmarking best-in-class practices. That’s why I’m excited about the upcoming workshops at the Energy Forum for Process Excellence. Just one problem: I’m having hard time figuring out how to be in more…

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Survey: Six Sigma and the Economy

iSixSigma Magazine’s latest research survey is live! This survey is all about how the economy is affecting companies and their business process improvement initiativessuch as Six Sigma and Lean. The survey is short, only 20 questions and about half of them are simpledemographic questions. Pleaseinvest about 7 minutesof your time and tell us what’s happening…

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Innovation Gone Bad – Here We Go Again

Over the weekend, I happened to stumble upon this news link on Yahoo. The L.A. Times apparently published a front page advertisement that looked very much like a regular news ad. Of course upon inspection, the advertisement disclaimer was there. According to AFP: “Publisher Eddy Hartenstein told the Times he had decided to run the ad…

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Thinking the Unthinkable

In our BB training we use the terms Divergent & Convergent thinking during the Improve phase. We cover a raft of brainstorming & lateral thinking techniques to encourage people’s divergent thinking. So please take a few moments to answer this question: How many uses can you think of for a Brick? How many did you…

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Before & After

My organization requires that we write our annual performance goals into a web-based system that can be sent to our bosses for their review. As I was working on this last week, it struck me that in the past I would not have written those goals the way I do now. For example, “improve service”…

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Does It Get Easier As You Get Better? It Shouldn’t

Throughout my career I’ve had the pleasure of meeting colleagues from a very large variety of manufacturing cultures. Sometimes I talk to people that work in a “mass” environment with poor performance, and I hear about how good it must be to work in an efficient workplace, with relatively good performance. I always get the…

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Let Them Be Lean! – Um, What Does Lean Mean?

Over the years, I’ve come in contact with several different companies that say that they are “lean”. Yes, TPS (the Toyota Production System) is a great framework for production, with its teachings of one-piece flow, kanban, etc…but what about the actual implementation of the lean concepts at other companies besides Toyota? I’ve seen desks with…

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More Than Advice

I’ve done a lot of informal coaching in my career – you know, the kind where you’re in conversation and someone says, “Gee, Sue, can you give me advice on…” and I get to cheerfully dispense my words of wisdom and then wish them good luck with their problem. Sometimes people seek me out and…

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Can We Use Six Sigma Tools Outside of Projects?

One of the things that I see as a challenge to companies that grapple with a Six Sigma implementation is effective use of tools in “live” situations. By “live”, I mean in a normal operations context, not in a project context. When looking at the use of Six Sigma tools, using them in a project…

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Six Sigma really sucks!

Picking-up on Sue’s recent Homeblog, I’d like to talk about my recent experience at home. Over this weekend my wife and I had “words” about the work I do helping on the home chores. There were a number of areas such as cooking, washing dishes, ironing, cleaning toilets, shopping, washing clothes, making beds, tidying-up, planning…

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The 1.5 Shift – Time For A Paradigm Shift?

Years ago (almost ten now!) when I was going through Black Belt training, I remember seeing the famous slide describing what a three-sigma world would look like. The presentation slide described how three-sigma aircraft landing performance would mean two long or short landings per day, and that 20,000 articles of mail would be lost per day at…

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Lean at Work, Lean at Home???

I was asked a very interesting question last week, after I gave a lecture on 5S. “Do you find that people who are very organized and who apply Lean or Six Sigma principles at work, also apply these same principles at home? Is this linked to a personality trait?” Now I will confess right off…

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Why Can’t an Energy Company Win a Shingo Prize?

That’s the question that will be answered at one of the anticipated presentations at the Energy Forum for Process Excellence in May. Presenting will be Steve Wells, Internal Continuous Improvement Consultant at Luminant. The power generation company received the Shingo Prize for Operational Excellence last year.

The C Word

That would be… Consultants. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to speak about lean for clinical laboratories at the recent Leadership Exchange conference, hosted by the American Society for Clinical Pathology. In discussions during the conference, I was asked many questions about the use of consultants to get started with lean. In many cases,…

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Tours de Force at the Energy Forum

We have two great tours planned for the Energy Forum for Process Excellence. On Friday, May 22, in Houston, attendees will have the chance to see: A. Halliburton Drill Bit Manufacturing Plants Woodlands Facility B. Cameron Gas Compressor Manufacturing Plant Picking which one to go to will be a tough decision. And there are a…

Halliburton Suppliers Get Lean

There is a great story this morning about Halliburton’s efforts to lead suppliers to Lean and Six Sigma. Having just completed a research feature (to be published in May) on this very subject I can attest the article is a living example of what to do when encouraging suppliers to become more efficient: Len Cooper,…

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Johnny the Bagger

This was sent to me by a friend and I thought about how important it is that we view Continuous Improvement as so much more than measurement. http://www.stservicemovie.com/ ON Ward!  

Farewell to iSixSigma from Founder Michael Cyger

Dear iSixSigma Readers, Advertisers, Sponsors and Partners, I have notified the board of Schofield Media Group that I will be transitioning out of my role with iSixSigma during the next several months. Despite current economic conditions, iSixSigma is now a stronger company in many ways than it was just 14 months ago when Schofield Media…

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Edgar Allan Poe was a Black Belt

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary, O’er Breyfogle, George, and other volumes of forgotten lore, While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my office door. ‘’Tis some Green Belt,’ soft I muttered, ‘working late on his R4 – Only this,…

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Managing the unmanageable

As I was getting into the cab outside Sheraton Saigon, the concierge guy handed me a small squarepiece of paper. “What’s this for?”, I asked, without really looking at what was handed to me. “In case you havetrouble with the driver sir.”, the concierge guy answered. It was a small feedback form allowing hotel guests…

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