What is your structure?

A review of the information covering Lean Six Sigma deployments shows a clear focus on such items as.

  • Roles & responsibilities: – e.g. champion, process owner, MBB, and BB
  • Critical success factors: – e.g. Leadership commitment, alignment to strategy and suitable training/accreditation system
  • Project selection & sponsorship

But what I have been interested in is how to structurally construct the deployment. In this area the materials are lacking. I suspect this is because every business is different and has very different requirements. Coming from a transactional background I describe my experience and provide 4 example deployment structures. I accept there are other potential approaches.

1. The Big Ticket Deployment
Looking for full-size and rapid benefits? Call in the experts. Hire a team of lean six sigma experts so you can hit the ground running. They may be expensive but you get real value and immediate results.

2. The Practise Deployment
Highly motivated and able practitioners combine to deliver Lean Six Sigma across the business. Reporting to their MBB and ultimately the Champion they deliver strategic projects into any target business line.

3. The Embedded Deployment
The BB/GB works directly for the process owner to first baseline and then introduce continuous improvement in core processes. A small central team of MBB’s provide coaching, mentoring and other support services.

4. The One Stop Shop Deployment
The internal business consultancy division offers continuous improvement among its suite of capabilities. Lean Six Sigma people can be deployed among other related change and strategic technologies.

Handpicked Content:   What Sigma Value is your Food?

I suspect no one business is a pure play is any deployment structure and is more likely to be a hybrid. It is of course the unique merits of each structures benefits and risks that will drive the decision on which way to go. But its a big decision to make because itcommits your people and cash to a deliveryapproach.

Does your preferred deployment structure match the approach chosen by your business?

Comments 3

  1. Mike Carnell


    In most situations I find we are pretty well aligned in what we think about this business. I would like to take exception to your comment on deployment style #1 – the Big Ticket Deployment.

    You refer to it as expensive. I suppose in terms of raw dollars it can be considered expensive. In one particular deployment of ours the CFO continues to refer to us as expensive even with benefits that paid back 10:1 in the first year. In terms of ROI that is a good investment. If the deployment were stopped in the first year it would have been a good investment. With that type of payback it is not expensive.

    Expensive is when you pay any amount and get no return. I know this may be a little picky and I apologize but the connotation of "expensive" is very misleading when we are speaking of investing in the skill sets of the people of the company. Ask yourself how long it would take the Capital Committee to approve a machine that paid back 10:1 in the first 12 months.

    The key to the "Big Ticket Deployment" is to have the consultants define an exit strategy at the beginning of the deployment so that the "Big Ticket" doesn’t turn into a "Big Ticket Annuity."

    Now the Columbo thing – just one more question Mr. Barnwell – "hire a team" creates the vision of a hoard of consultants. We rarely have more than 3-4 people on site at the most. It isn’t about how many are on site it is who you have on site.

    Ok, no more Columbo stuff.

    Just my opinion.


  2. Robin Barnwell

    Hi Mike

    Thanks for ensuring a degree balance here. The main point of the blog being a quick review of alternative deployment approaches. The Big Ticket deployment is a suitable option for some businesses and I agree a well-defined exit strategy is important.

    Is it expensive? I guess it depends what you are comparing with and the results you expect to get. We had a recent news article for the most expensive sandwich in the world coming in at £85. Seems expensive to me but must taste great!


  3. Mike Carnell


    The sandwich is interesting. If you can convince people that its beauty is in its simplicity and still charge more than any other sandwich you have a very nice margin. I wonder how much of the beef has to be stored and at what cost. I am sure someone who shows up to buy this thing isn’t going to be very patient if they have to come back the next evening because the kitchen Kanban is empty.

    Expensive does need to be defined in terms of the business context since that is the environment that it generally is used in – at least in terms of Six Sigma. In that context ROI is the the test that separates the good investment from the bad. If it qualifies as a good investment is it really expensive. Again raw currency probably (but scalable) but looking through the ROI glasses a good thing.

    Just my opinion.

    Thanks for your response. The link was interesting.


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