Starting a Lean or Six Sigma initiative at your organization is no easy task. The task is easier, however, when you build a comprehensive deployment plan.
In this video, you will learn everything you need to know about a successful Lean or Six Sigma deployment plan, including:
- What is a deployment plan and why is it important? (1:11)
- What happens when a deployment plan goes badly or well? (3:20)
- What are the major steps to take and elements to include in a deployment plan? (14:28)
- What form should a deployment plan be to make sure people “sign off” and agree? (37:15)
- What happens if executives do not follow through on their commitment to the deployment plan? (38:40)
- “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.” When should a deployment plan change? (42:25)
- What metrics should you track in your deployment? (45:54)
- Can a company expect a return on their investment during the deployment period? (49:05)
- “Top down,” “middle out” and “bottom up” – are these valid types of deployment plans? (51:50)
- If Motorola, Allied Signal and Motorola had such great Lean Six Sigma deployments, why is it not the highest priority of their businesses today? (53:40)
- What do Lean Six Sigma professionals need to know about converting reluctant company executives to support Lean or Six Sigma? (57:46)
- Where do companies fail when developing a Lean and/or Six Sigma deployment plan? (62:58)
About Gary Cone
Gary Cone is a founding partner of Global Productivity Solutions and has over 30 years of experience achieving business performance improvement and successfully employing and adapting his knowledge of business and quality systems, strategy deployment, Lean Six Sigma, organizational change and industrial systems.
Cone pioneered the development of the Six Sigma roadmap while working at Motorola in the 1980s; helped launch the Six Sigma revolution that began at AlliedSignal in 1994, where he was personally responsible for leading the deployment in the $6 billion automotive sector; and was responsible for Six Sigma implementations at GE, GenCorp, International Truck, Siebe, Bombardier, LOF and Crane, in addition to others.
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Michael Cyger: Hi everyone. My name is Michael Cyger and I’m the founder and publisher of iSixSigma.com – the largest community of Lean and Six Sigma professionals in the world and the resource for learning to drive breakthrough improvement.
Here’s what we do here: We bring on successful lean and six sigma business leaders; we learn from their experiences; and they share their strategies and tactics with you. Then, when you have a success to share, you can come on the show and give back as today’s guest is going to do.
Here’s today’s big question: What goes into a Lean Six Sigma deployment plan, and how can you make sure that your current or future deployment plan is the most successful that it can be?
Joining me to answer this question is Gary Cone. Gary is the Founding Partner at Global Productivity Solutions, a global management consulting firm specializing in operational excellence, assessments, project execution, implementation, and training.
Gary, welcome to the show.
Gary Cone: Hello, from the Motor City.
Michael: Good to have you from the Motor City.
Gary: Thank you.
Michael: Gary, let’s start with a basic question: what is a deployment plan?
Gary: It’s basically an agreement between the people who are going to help a company, and the company of what is to be done. It is based on a lot of facts. It is based on looking to the leader’s eyes and see if they are really ready to do something and see if they got data, taking a cursory look at least at their organizations and see what needs to be done in this agreement and how to get started at least for the first year or so.
Michael: Interesting. I’ve never heard it described it that way. You know, I have facilitated a lot of meetings and when you start a Black Belt Six Sigma project you often times will have an agreement with the team the first time you get them together and you’ll go over things like, “Here are the ground rules. Here’s what we are going to train and accomplish with this project. Here’s what’s going to be acquired of the team.” And what you are saying is the deployment plan is the same sort of thing but with the executive team. So if you are writing this deployment plan, you are saying, “Here is what we are going to do the first year or so.” And you are going to get them to buy off on this.
Gary: Exactly. We need the supporter or we’ll fail from the beginning. So it is the agreement. This is what we are ready to go do is probably not as complete as I would like it to be but I, at least am at a point where I know that what will do will have a return and they will see the benefit.
Michael: Great. Throughout this interview I will be asking you about Lean Six Sigma deployment plans. Most deployments today that I have seen are either lean, as in lean manufacturing or lean service, or they’re Lean Six Sigma the combined Lean and Six Sigma methodology. Are deployment plans applicable to both types of deployments?
Gary: Absolutely. You need to know where you are going. You need to – you know, the worst thing you can do is one or two months into something, surprise the leadership of a company with something, and so yeah, you are laying out the road map with what you are going to do regardless of what it looks like. And the difference between lean and Lean Six Sigma or Six Sigma, truth of the matter is everybody needs it all. It’s really what a company has an appetite to do and what they have already got done that is evident.
Michael: What happens when a Lean Six Sigma plan goes badly? What does that look like?
Gary: Oh, my God. A lot of disgruntled people, a lot of arguing among management, a lot of arguing over financial benefits, a lot of arguing over we-haven’t=let-anybody=go-yet – you know, that sort of thing. The people really haven’t got, most could go wrong. There’s two failure modes that are predominant. One is just a lack of buy-in from the leadership. Again, that’s where we do the deployment plan with the leadership, but the other one is once we are getting into the same is providing inadequate support to the people who are out there being the change agents. It is not an intuitive thing for most people of how to be a change agent. There is a guidance needed. If you just sit in the class and expect them to understand without some adult guidance it’s not going to work.
Michael: Great. What –
Gary: But it’s ugly, you know, this is the best job in the world or the worst job in the world. When it goes well it’s the most fun you will ever have and when it goes badly you are ready to get out.
Michael: Yeah, I can understand that. What happens when a Lean Six Sigma plan goes well? What does that look like and what’s a good example?
Gary: Oh, my God. Well, we’ve got several common examples in our past like you know, GE was a great example. People were energized everyday coming to work. They were excited to learn something new. You know, I got a custom right now Kraft where we have several of their facilities and the people are just so excited. They can’t believe to tell each other what they are learning, and they have fun to come in work and you know, it’s hard to get them out of there after 12 hours. You know, this is a great learning environment, and people are excited, and people are energized.
Michael: We are going to find out what can we done to have to successful deployment plan during this interview but first I want to know a little bit about your background Gary. You have been involved in operational excellence programs since the 1980s. Can you tell us what companies you have been involved with? I know, you just mentioned GE and currently Kraft but what other companies you have been involved and in what fashion?
Gary: Well, my journey started with actually, with National Cash Register back before Motorola. They introduced me to [unclear] quality improvement, and actually it turned me onto a book that is still my benchmark it’s called a Managerial Breakthrough and it was written by Juran in 1964. The downside of working for NCR is they were losing the business. We played in a place where we were competing on making power supplies in a market where the Asian power supplies were starting to come in and we were in denial that everybody would like to pay you five times as much for little special features you know, a nice breaker where a fuse would do. You know, that sort of thing. But the other thing is we were one of the leaders early in presenting the PC market and we were going to be compatible and we were going to be better, and so everybody knows the end of that story.
Long story short, when I started the job there I was quality manager and I had thirty people working for me, and when I left I still had six people working for me. I couldn’t make another lay off list, so I laid my self off and I was lucky and at the same time I got contacted by Motorola. Motorola basically said, “We have this idea of what we are going to do.” And they didn’t call it Lean, they didn’t call it Six Sigma then and call it anything at the time. It was a 10-1 improvement initiative but they had this idea that they weren’t competitive because there were some people out there were just kicking their butts that had a much more efficient process for making things, and they thought the gap was about 10-1.
It turned out to be about a 1000-1, so that was a nice learning and then at some point in that time they started calling this thing Six Sigma. I was lucky I was responsible for the automotive division at the time and we had aggressive customers. Especially, Ford at that time and basically between Motorola and the leadership with Bob Galvin and a company like Ford who was trying to the right things.(you don’t have to do right things but they were trying to do right things.)
We had a platform where we could go out and try a lot of things, and learn a lot of things. It was just a tremendous environment. And you know, those of you that don’t know the story of Motorola, there was a point in time in the late 80s; they were probably the most competitive manufacturer in the world. No longer true, it’s unfortunate but there was a time that just you know, there is a whole synergy of things that happened. It was exciting, we worked hard, and you know, we learned a lot and we were competitive by the end of the 80s.
They started actually in 1981 with something called participative management. They started with, “If everybody got along better then things would be better.” They learned that wasn’t all. But by the end of the 80s they were competitive. They changed leadership in 1991. It went from Bob Galvin, who was the son of the founder, and just passionate about this, and created an umbrella to another guy. I won’t mention names but he basically declared Motorola world class; we are the epitome of things. And the thing I have learned is since his as soon as a company does this they are going to decline and pretty quickly the whole politics returned, and some other things and there was you know, so it was time for a lot of us to move on because it wasn’t as exciting anymore.
Gary: I first went to Compaq Computers which, it was interesting because I thought everybody in the world was doing the same thing at the same time we were. In the 1980s I walked into the place and they talked about the thing “Compaq culture” and oh, my god. The Compaq culture was don’t rock the boat. We are the definition of world class. Even though we were starting to lose some money you know, minor things but so we fought with them for a couple of years. We improved their hard drives dramatically without calling what we were doing Lean or Six Sigma but what we did is increase flow and decrease defect rates and got the testing online with what was important to the customer. And then at the same time they increased their manufacturing from 200,000 a year to 3 million a year but it was facilitated by getting the hard drive straightened out.
Gary: Because the hard drives used to consume a 96-hour test and they had a 7% failure rate on a daily basis. Sometimes spiking to 70% and you had to solve that problem to solve the other one. And we fought them, and we fought them, and we fought them, and we got success, and I was worn out. I don’t like having to come in to work to fight to make things better. And really long story short on that one, I went in to consulting after that and also I’d moved my family around several times.
With Motorola I went from Florida to Phoenix to Buffalo and then Chicago, to Milan to Chicago, and for Compaq I’d gone to Houston and it was clearly damaging my kids, and so I decided to consult and be in one place because I was going to look for the next exciting opportunity on and it was clear that’s how I live my life. But I figured I could get on a plane if I did this as a consultant so we started consulting. I think I was lucky about concurrent within days in making that decision I got to be one of the first four people at AlliedSignal in late 1994.
And you know, again, one of the things that is amazing is it was just right. It was the right place at the right time, and we went from there to GE. You know, and so I fell into some really nice companies – Motorola, Allied, GE is an amazing string of companies to fall into… the leadership that they had. And since then, we’ve been out there. We got to a point in the late 90s where people were throwing money at us to come and do business with them. My business became something I didn’t like because taking everybody who was willing to throw money at you doesn’t make for a valuable contribution to society. It doesn’t make for something that you are really proud of.
And so I stepped back, and since then, we have been doing things a little bit differently anyway. We only take the customers we want to have, and I have the opportunity to do that because of my previous success – not everybody has got that opportunity. But you know, we have taken on several companies and right now we’ve got the largest implementation in a Fortune 50 company in the world, and we are starting to enter a big partnership with one of the biggest business processing outsourcing companies in the world to become their consulting arms as well.
So, we’ve got greater opportunities but again all these companies. It was a matter of looking in these people’s eyes and say, “Are you really ready to go do something. Have you got enough momentum? Have you got enough information to know where to start?”
Michael: So I am going to ask you a question that’s a little off topic because I think a lot of people – there are a lot of consultants out there. They work locally in their small communities. They don’t want to work for a large Fortune five or Fortune 50 company. They want to work in their small communities and what you said was interesting because you said that you worked at Compaq and you were doing a lot of traveling, and it was taking its toll on your family, so then you became a consultant because you wanted to focus more on time on your family. But don’t consultants actually have to travel more like when you are doing big deployments like you were at Allied and then later GE – doesn’t that actually take a bigger toll on your family?
Gary: The toll on my family was moving my kids from school to school while they were going through elementary and junior high school. But yeah, the travel is tedious and the thing that we’ve learned and you know, I assume it’s universal but I don’t really know is when the economy is bad and you run a consulting company you are going to burn yourself out. And in those times you do damage, you need to take special care of what you are doing at home. You know, no secret here in 2008, just like most people, we went down with the economy because we had been trying to not run within the bounce of Detroit. But within you know, we tried to focus our business between Toronto, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Chicago, and had a nice little business going but within weeks of the first bank failure in 2008 our business collapsed on us.
And so, we rethought what we’d done and I knew what I have done in the late 90s, and I thought I could rebuild it and we went on and procured a customer and but because we weren’t sure of how big it was going to be and because it was dire times, I put myself and my partner in leadership roles in the deployment and it’s almost consumed us for the last three years as it’s exploded on us. And as we step back from this, it is a lesson learned for me at least in running a company. Are you the company, or are you going to run the company, or are you going to be the company? And so, we’re in a learning mode just like it was in the late 90s.
How do I start running the company now and making sure the quality of the people I put out there and the consistency of my offering versus being the company but it’s a sign of the economic times for us and that’s – the people that can do it locally and God bless them. I have never figured out how to run as a three- or four- or five-men shop which is a nice place to run by the way and be economically viable over time. You know, you are subject to the wins in the economy.
Michael: Right. Okay, let’s talk deployment planning Gary.
Gary: It is amazing with the travel if you don’t take care.
Michael: No, no, no worries. So, let’s talk deployment planning. What is the first step in developing a Lean Six Sigma deployment plan?
Gary: So let me just tell you where we start with an engagement. We start in one of two places. We have a lot of people that will call us and they are interested in doing something. Most of the time when you get a call from mid-management with somebody really trying to do something right but they want to have somebody come and give them ten days of training. And again, there’s people out there that will do that. I don’t know how to do that and be successful at it. What we look for is where we are going into the organization and if where we are going into the organization… is it have enough leverage to get the organization to behave nicely.
I mean, just for an example if you are only going into ops, you got to make sure that the people in engineering, the people in customer service, the people at least will play nicely and share information and be willing to participate in projects because if you don’t have that kind of thing you are going to lose. You know, we look for one or two things. One, if we can have access to high enough level of leadership to get that kind of leverage across silos. The other thing that we look for is I have a partner that I’m blessed to have worked with since the late 80s as well and his name is Rich Schroeder, and Rich Schroeder is probably the number one person of going into a leadership team in the world and getting them to do things they wouldn’t normally do on their own. He knows how to coerce them, how to talk to them, how to show them where the money is, that sort of thing. So, if I have an opportunity that Schroeder’s vetted out, I go in there and we’re ready to go because I know he’s vetted it. If we don’t, we go in there, and we get access to a high enough level to where we connect access to silos and we make sure that everybody is willing at least to have a frank discussion.
Michael: Okay, so let me pause you there for a moment. So, the first step is you need to make sure you have the right leverage in the organization. If somebody who is a manager five levels down an operation says they want to implement it at the organization and they will call you up, you are going to look at it and say, “Well, if the operations manager across the company isn’t bought in to this then she or he is not going to drive the kinds of actions that you need in the organization in order to deploy it.” So, the first step in the deployment plan is determining if you have the right leverage within the organization.
Gary: Right, and you know just a little bit different and probably nuanced from what you said – if somebody from the middle organization engages us, we will give him all the time in the world in two ways. One is if it doesn’t require us to get on a plane and go sit in their facility for ten weeks we will give them any help they want. But the other one is we are going to talk to about how to get leverage or how to make introductions and see if we can get those introductions but anybody who calls and is willing to learn we are trying to help them. We are always been that way since the day we started at Motorola. If anybody is willing to learn we try to help them.
Michael: Great. I’m glad you clarified that because there is a difference between having successful Lean Six Sigma projects in an organization and even having it in a part of the organization, and then having it deployed across the entire business which is the focus of this interview. And so, I just wanted to clarify. We are talking about a deployment plan across either a major business unit or across an entire business like a GE which at the time of the deployment had I believe 14 core businesses, one of which was GE Capital which had 26 businesses in itself. And so, we are talking about a deployment plan that could either be on one of the GE Capital businesses let’s say or in the case of what you did at GE across all of the GE businesses.
Gary: Right. You know, we actually – my friend, Mike Carnell and I had eight of the GE businesses – we didn’t do them all – but we had eight But yes, we are looking for that type of involvement because work doesn’t take place in silos. It takes place across silos – you’ve got to have that engagement.
Michael: Definitely, and if you don’t have that type of engagement you’ll bring in somebody like a Rich Schroeder and then you’ll try and create that engagement within the organization?
Gary: We would do that, yes.
Michael: Okay. So that’s the first step of the deployment plan. What comes after that? Assuming that you can get engagement, what comes after that?
Gary: We take a fairly, as detailed a look as they’ll let us take, we have to get certain amounts of data. What do you know about your business? What do you know about your strategic plan? Explain to me why your strategic plan is rational. Let’s start with that. A lot of people will have to hope out there in their strategic plan. How is your strategic plan rational? Show me the data you have. If you don’t have data let us go get data with you and when we really get ready to, we have a lot of people have something they call an assessment but we will go in if we’re going to in to go into GE Capital for example or one of their businesses, we will go in and take a hard look at their core processes – 1, 2, 3 – and it depends on what the company is, how many core process they have. We’ll look at their financials and see what their financials say about results and where money should be and we will go look at the process as is runs and see if we see the money there, you know, see if there’s a match up of what’s going on in there so we can have an estimate of what’s going on here. And a lot of people like to start and if you read a lot of the early stuff from Dr. Harry for example, you’ll start a project and you’ll figure out what the financial results. We try to turn the equation on its ear, we try to know what the financial result looks like, and see how much of it we can capture or project work that can be observed.
But that would be our next step. Let’s go get some data, let’s go and make sure that the strategic plan’s in line, and then let’s go look at the key processes involved in that, and see what we can discern from them – in a quick look. We don’t take a long time to do the assessment. In a weeks’ time I can look at the financials, I can look at the key process they want to look at and I can see if there is a rational story there, yes or no.
Michael: Okay. That makes perfect sense. So the second step is to basically perform an assessment and gather the data through you know, core process evaluation the financial statements and then estimate that gap. Estimate what the improvement potential is which you would then quantify in financial terms for the company.
Gary: Absolutely, but we will stay with the process project would be but we tell them what the money available to them is. We don’t ever try to go for all the money or all the improvement but we – you know, we the go with the standard Motorola thing and we tell them, “What happens if you get 68% improvement?” because I know from experience I can get 68% improvement on any process if we are not trying to violate the laws of physics”
Michael: That’s always a good thing. All right, so you have done your assessment, you’ve quantified that potential – then what do you do?
Gary: Well, we go one of two ways. A lot of times in companies there’s a lot of doubters. We have tried this before and it doesn’t work. I got this process over here that can’t be fixed. And I would tell you more often than not we get these kinds of thing. So the first thing we will do once we have that bit of data in our hands, if there are detractors we will go in there and go and show them how to fix that process. And we’ll take on any process they’ve got. You know, one of the things that we, well we got several but it’s not unusual for us to see a 40-year-old problem that can’t be fixed you know and we fix in 3 months. But we show them how to do it because usually it’s a measurement system problem or data problem and so we fix that and we show them how to fix the problem.
So we’ll do that or if there are real believers in the crowd that they understand that this opportunity is there and we see that a lot, again with people who have come out of GE or P&G, or you know, any of the other myriad companies have seen this happen before, a lot of people know. And so we’ll go into actually, “Okay. How do we educate your resources in the right way and give them the experience in the right way?” so that two years from now they can run their own program and have people who are capable of doing and looking at the process. Looking at the financials, knowing there is an opportunity here and he structure of the project and they will run it. So you know, we demonstrate it to them and we will go and start because there is an adequate amount of buy-in there.
Michael: So there is the old saying, “Give a man a fish he’ll eat for a day, teach a man to fish, he will eat for a lifetime.” So what you’ll do is you will go in there and you will give them the fish. You’ll fix the problems that they have had plaguing their company for 40 years that nobody you know, even their fantastic engineers or business leaders have had that they just haven’t been able to fix, and looking at with the Lean Six Sigma methodology you’ll be able to fix it and bring some detractors either neutral or positive. And then you will also look at who needs to be trained so that they can go and do their own fishing and improve their own processes.
Gary: Right, absolutely. Now I don’t want to get in trouble with my friends and tell them how to run this business but we take it a step further and we don’t just teach people to fish. We instill a love of fishing in them.
Michael: Love it, love it. Okay, and so we got the engagement and we got the assessment, we quantified the gap. We’ve fixed some the problems in the business so we’ve got some quick wins and then we’re also educating. What else, what’s the next step in the deployment plan?
Gary: Well, we will at that point we will start going for the mid-levels of management to make them aware of what we’re doing, how we’re doing, why we’re doing, how we’re going to measure things. We will also try to effect how they measure their own business. If we find the company that is out there measuring forty things, and not focusing on any we will try to get them to cut the list down. If they don’t have good measurements of the things they say they were working on, we’ll try to straighten that out. If we a mismatch between their strategic plan in how executives get compensated we try to straighten that up, but we will try to straighten up the measurement systems around there, and we’ll start educating from the gap between the C-suite and the people who are actually out there trying to teach us as change agents.
We have in the past missed the first line leadership and we have made a concerted effort in the last ten years to hit the first line leadership too because that’s where a lot of it can either be reinforced or destroyed immediately, especially with Lean. You know, one of the things that I tell everybody about Lean, Lean is a simple set of tools that is easy to teach but it is really hard to implement and the reason why it’s hard to implement is you can do all the right things and the first time you make a decision for convenience at three in the morning, or at the end of the quarter, or at the end of the month, or whatever – as soon as you have done that, you’ve just destroyed everything you’ve done. So that first line of defense is how do the first line leaders react when there is a problem. There is a reaction plan that says, “We are Lean and we do these kind of things.” How do we instill that knowledge to these guys and how do we just instill that believe in these folks. So we will go after this entire gap between when we focus on first line leadership early on and we focus on the measurement systems that reward or punish people and make sure those are lined up.
Michael: Okay. So I want to ask you some questions related to that. So let’s just do definition terms to begin with because a lot of the times in a Lean Six Sigma world and in the business world in general there’s so much jargon, there’s so many abbreviations used to describe things and people around the world don’t necessarily define it the same way that you do or that I do so let’s describe what… Are mid-level managers and first line managers or first line leaders the same thing and what are they specifically – with an example?
Gary: First line leaders are the people who actually touch the people doing the work. The actual day to day work a corporation does, is the people who leads those guys. Because to the people actually implement the work in the company that is the company to them. That supervisor that, first step out of college manager and that sort of thing, that is the company to them. They’ve got to do the right thing. Mid level would be, you know, we work a lot in customer service organizations. We work a lot in factories so – in a factory it would be everybody between the line worker and the plant manager and staff, and at a customer service organization it would be everybody between the people who answer the phones or take new orders or plan the trucks or plan the transportation and the people in charge of that organization usually in a customer service organization at some VP level. It will be the people in between there.
Michael: So that makes sense. So the fourth step was to educate and help the mid-level managers down to the first line managers and you’re looking at their metrics, how they align to the strategy of the business, the measurements that they are taking, the measurement systems analysis to make sure that the measurement systems are working properly. All of that makes sense but how do you align that with the previous step which is you know showing the detractors and then also educating people within the organization. Are you educating people who are running some of these initial projects before you are educating the first line managers or the midlevel managers who might be affected by that project?
Gary: Okay, it’s a good question. Yeah, that is a good question. When we go in to run our own projects to show people something we take extra time with all of the leadership in there and all the workers in there. We will give them the mini version of you know, and name it what you want, but it is some kind of version of Green Belt training. This isn’t officially sanctioned but we will bring people in a room, these are the tools, this is why it is important. This is what it means and we do some simple simulations too. If we want people to make the process a little better we will do simple simulations with them and I don’t care if it’s inside of a Lean class or a Green Belt class or whatever, or if it’s just what we have to do to facilitate the project – we make sure people do that. The thing that is a little bit misleading here because it’s just like how we explain DMAIC to people is do define, do measure, do analyze or whatever. It is not that clean ever and you know there is a lot of overlap between all these things and a straightening out of the measurement system especially aligning metrics that reward those behaviors, that’s a long conversation.
I would tell you that we started early because it’s the last thing and we are finally fixing the company before we leave them alone as well. And so yeah, you know you have to go through that but yeah, we make sure there is training at every level and again the best Master Black Belts or Black Belts or whatever you know, we have a lot of people that don’t have the formal Master Black Belt certification but they’re natural teachers.
The best Lean guy I’ve got hasn’t been formally recognized by anybody is we went back to the Japanese or any of the people that do in the US. But this guy he walks and he starts teaching the day, the day he walks in he shows up on second shift, he shows up on third shift and when he’s there to talk to people about how they do their business, and how they document their business analysis is (it) the same or different and they are just natural teachers, and that’s what we want but it’s got to be more that. The teacher’s got to be somebody who can do something too, but that’s what we’re doing. And again when we do our own projects we make sure those teacher implementers are the people we put in there. We don’t put somebody that can only teach or somebody that can only implement because either one is going to leave the organization lacking something. We are trying to educate as we go.
Michael: I understand. So, in step three when you are really starting to do some implementation to get the quick hits to show that you can make some improvements within the business, you are showing the detractors, you are educating people on those projects that you might be educating or using their teams to educate and then when we get to step four you are starting to do training within the organization?
Michael: So that they can do it themselves. Okay, I understand.
Gary: And we never do training without support because it’s just. I’ve never seen it be a successful model.
Michael: What do you mean by that? What is training without support? What does that support mean?
Gary: Well, it would be sending someone to a four-week Black Belt class but never touching them in between to make sure, you know we do a lot of interesting kind of fun exercises to do across this map or to do a measurement system analysis and all these kinds of things and plus it doesn’t mean necessarily that the person going and taking orders from the customer that translates into a supply chain kind of command – order trucks, order supplies, all that kind of stuff, they have a clue what to do with this so we also you know, you got to go from what you could teach in the classroom to what’s the translation do, you got this process in front of you and what does it mean?
Gary: We always hold the hands. Some people need it less than others. I have seen people – my present partner in business, she had all the tools, and all she need to be shown was the road map. Some people don’t have the tools or the road map and so it depends on the person that – you tailor and you have to have that kind of support there because you never get everybody that has everything except they just need to have the road map explained to them, right? That would be interesting but it’s never the reality.
Michael: It’s not the real life situation.
Gary: You find that one in a thousand maybe.
Michael: Yeah, exactly. All right, so what is the next step after you have done that mid-level management down-to-the-line training?
Gary: Okay so done right there’s got to be some kind of management review process going on in there, both at the project level and at the corporate and at the enterprise level or what ever level enterprise you were engaged then. One of the big misses we make is – and we have learned over time to stop making this – we go out there and start having fun. We are doing a lot of things and we are bringing a lot of money. In our present customer they got, they have tripled their productivity in the last three years and after spending a lot more money on advertising and they are still bringing about 3% to the bottom line as well.
Michael: Wow! I bet the shareholders are loving that.
Michael: Well, it’s a unique situation…
Gary: No, no, you are right, but you have to have some review process going on. What can get lost here is if you just go out there and have fun and forget to document the projects or you forget to hold a quarterly review with the people who are paying you. These are the things that are being done. These are results. This is the place where we are having difficulty in the organizations and this is what we are doing about it. You forget to get their support and you can lose their support in doing that kind of thing. So it’s the review process but the same thing with the projects is we don’t start projects and four months later and see if they are successful. We start the project and where should you be in four weeks, where should at eight weeks, and where should you be and we make sure that review goes on.
Not everybody follows that. It can comply with that road map at 4, 8 and 12 but you do that because you review and you make agreement what’s it going to take to get back on track. It could be all sorts of things. It could be sicknesses of team members or it could be sicknesses of the people that you are training, and it could be the changes in the organization and as the implementation goes on in the middle of this thing or a split up with the company happens in the middle of this thing or, or, or… you know. So you have to stay on top of that thing because again number one failure mode would be to let that kind of stuff happen and not detect it early enough because you got to bring the results. In the end of the day you got to bring the results.
Michael: Sure. No, that makes sense. Okay, what else needs to go in the deployment plan after you have – the last time that we discussed the management reviews, making sure that on a project basis things are moving in the right direction, on the enterprise level the projects are rolling up and matching against the strategy and moving those metrics. And as we talked about in step two your gaps, you are now narrowing the gap achieving some of those lost capabilities and adjusting the deployment plan as you go. What else needs to be a part of the deployment plan?
Gary: Okay, we need to start thinking about sustainability early. It sounds like a natural because we are doing Lean and Lean is by definition – Lean should be a sustainability piece. It is how do you standardize work or how do you get everybody understanding exactly and what is important to the organization. How do you minimize the amount of non-value added stuff going on. But it is one thing to say it and it’s another thing to do it, right? And so we are working to make sure that when we say something that sticks, when we understand how to run a line differently that those things are understood and stay understood so we don’t come back three years from now saying, “You know, the things have run better but it doesn’t run better anymore.”
Gary: So, the whole sustainability piece and it turns out you know again we talk DMAIC, it turns out the hardest step of all this stuff is, is control. It is the simplest thing to explain and it is the hardest thing to do because you are changing behaviors and you are changing behaviors of a fairly fluid population quite often. The fluid population is people going through either a factory type job where the pay is low or a customer service type job where the pay is low, they are either doing it to progress in the company to move up or they are going to go somewhere else right? And so you have to make sure the training’s in place. You got to make sure that the documentation is in place. You got to make sure when the process isn’t running right at 3 o’clock in the morning that we don’t go start just turning knobs.
We’ve got to make sure that when we don’t have a truck loaded properly we don’t just tell the truck to roll. We got to make sure of all those things and so it is, it’s all about and you know, I use the nasty word here – it is the Quality system and it’s not the thing that is sexy. It’s not the thing that sells business by the way. You kind of have to sneak it in on folks and you know I don’t sneak it in on folks – that’s all and I am doing it. But we have to go through all of those basic of this is how we’re going to run this business and we’re going to follow this agreement and make it better as you go along but you got to start by, “This is our agreement and this is what we do. How do we improve on top of that?” So you have to get that control and sustainability later in place and you can’t do that just by running projects and putting a control plan in place for every project you run because the organization just got to behave well, not just a project.
Michael: Right. So we have talked about all these major elements of the deployment plan, what I want to know Gary is when a person is at an organization at a high enough level where they feel that they can get the leverage and get the engagement of the executive team and they have had some of the discussions with the executive team let’s say. What do they need to actually document to make sure that – let me ask you this? Is it a form of a document? Is it like an agreement that or is it a PowerPoint presentation? What kind of form is this deployment plan that you can make sure that everybody has bought?
Gary: That’s a great question. Well, you know, in this day and age a lot of people like to think PowerPoint presentations are documents, right? And again I will just tell you what we have learned is a PowerPoint presentation is a wonderful way to explain to people what we are going to do but we put a written document behind it. This is exactly what we are going to do, and this is how we are going to do it, and this is how we are going to expect behaviors and how we are going to expect measurement systems to be looked at, this is how we are going to expect team members to be assigned. We document it not in excruciating detail and anybody that knows me knows that I don’t ever accept anything from a lawyer if it can be said in one page and I get a ten page document with the lawyer talking and I get rid of that, I throw it in the garbage can. So we do it in simple terms but this is explicit and this is what we are going to do and it usually can be done with a timing chart, using the explanation of what the rules of engagement are can be done in two pages but we explain it in the PowerPoint deck, so we give the customer both.
Michael: So you explain it to them in a deck but then you actually have a written agreement just like any executive, any C-level executive at a company would have an employment contract which clearly explains how they are going to be compensated, what their expectations are and things of that nature?
Michael: Okay, and so by getting somebody’s signature on a document they are bought off on this and they have actually, they have signified with their signature that they are going to work towards this.
Gary: That’s a trick question by the way but yes the answer is therefore –
Michael: Well, of course. Because my next question is going to be what happens when somebody doesn’t follow through on their agreement?
Gary: It’s a good one and on a little sideline here is one of the things that worked wonderfully for us at Motorola is we used to sign contracts with one another all the time. And what we’d do is if we sat in a meeting room and we made an agreement before we walk out again in very simple terms, Gary is going to do this and Mike is going to do this. George is going to do this and it always had to have a specific action by when, right?
And the expectation was either you went off and did what you were expected to or you got to hold of all the people you made the agreement with and let them know what the problem is. And if you can instill that type of behavior with these written documents then the signature means a lot. And a lot of companies, it doesn’t mean anything to make an agreement in a conference room, and walk out and then basically trash what you just agreed to do. You know, it depends on the culture of the company.
I know you grew up at, no, I don’t know about growing up, but you worked a long time in GE and that kind of behavior wouldn’t have been tolerated. You made an agreement, you were expected to keep it, right?
Gary: And you were expected to rally the people around you if you couldn’t keep it.. And so it’s got to be a part of the deal but you know having people sign off on things and then having them behave that way is a difficult thing. It’s where again a person like, and again you know the people who I hang out with. That a person like Mike Carnell or Rich Schroeder are invaluable because we need somebody that’s brave enough to go take a risk Of we’re basically, “This is what we agreed to and this is what’s happening. What we are going to do about it because if we allow this to keep going this way were going to disengage.” And you got to be willing to do that kind of thing because you know at least for us, we do this as a passion. We make money at it, by the way. We are not going to do something that we aren’t proud of and so you’ve got to have people who are brave enough to go in a skillful way and again, I will tell you there all three of people that I mentioned including myself that learned to do that in a more skillful way over time but you got to have people willing to engage and call the people’s hands where they don’t keep their agreements.
Gary: It’s a difficulty. You know, you don’t have any actual leverage in the organization. You are a consultant and you can be let go right now, right?
Gary: So, it’s a fine line. You can’t just not let something happen but you also can’t just get kicked out because you let them go. And so it is walking a fine line but again it’s what in my mind make the best consultants. You’ve got to be willing to challenge, you’ve got to be willing to not just go in and trash the person and walk away. You’ve got to go in there and tell them what’s wrong with their behavior and talk through with them and sometimes it’s not the easiest thing in the world. Especially, if you’ve got somebody you’re passionate about. We get a lot of bright people, the best part of the job for me is all the bright people we get introduced to and we can change the way they think about business for the rest of their lives.
And we got a lot passionate people there that are basically getting stymied by people not keeping their agreements and so it’s hard not to go in there and be overly passionate about your support of these people. You’ve got to walk the line but you got to do it. You’ve got to be willing to challenge, you’ve got to be willing to walk away, you’ve got to be willing to… I don’t care if your title is executive, the VP. I don’t care if your title is CEO. If they aren’t meeting their agreements just sit down and talk to them and explain what you are seeing and what can we do about it. It’s got to happen.
Michael: Yeah. You know, another one of my favorite quotes is “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.” So we’ve worked on this plan and we’ve got these different steps, clearly one of the most important steps is the management reviews where you are reviewing the projects, you are reviewing at an enterprise level how all of these projects and the improvements that you are making are benefiting the business. How do you decide what to change on your deployment plan versus what on your plan needs to be changed?
Gary: It’s a good question. I will tell you that all our plans are fluid and again it’s the reason why the management agreement is important. Because one of the things you do is you do status, and you also tell people what you have learned because one of the things that’s amazing about what we do is we learn what we see. And so you have that and if you do it right you tell people about what progress is being made. But you will also tell them about what opportunities are being unearthed. And I will just give you the example, our big customer right now we went in through operations but we have cooperation from the ancillary organizations but as we started seeing that you know we can get triple the productivity by working aside of operations, look there is money over here in customer service. What do you think about? And you know that the first time we mentioned it to them, we were off – get back in the box you know.
I haven’t mentioned, before we start having a reasonable conversation about it and what you will see now is even though Ops is not perfect they have got the first layer off the onion but they’ve got a long way to go. There’s no money over in things like transportation, transportation and for an industry this year is huge because there is a shortage of equipment and the fuel costs are out the roof.
Gary: And so there is the world of opportunity. So we, I can’t remember exactly where but somewhere in 9 months to 12 months into the present plan we altered the plan to divert resources over towards the customer service organization to make sure that we planned routes correctly and that we were in trucks correctly, and that we went in secured trucks. Made sure that we packed all these kind of things and there’s this huge money in it. You’d be amazed what’s over there. But we altered the plan based on what we kept on seeing it, we kept on seeing it, we kept on seeing it, we kept on seeing it. Because more efficient we got in operations the more efficiently we can have things arrive on the dock, and with what we saw if we have a problem getting things off the dock. And you know, that was our evidence. So if we talk about it we got an opportunity go elsewhere.
Gary: But, yeah, the deployment plans are fluid and it’s always going to be based on data and you know, sometimes you think that you know, all the money is inside this one little box called, you know, operations might be a good example, but we could decide the same thing if we start in customer service – we could decide all the money was there.
Gary: And you got to be wise enough to see what the data is telling you because that’s what we always try to tell people when we teach them to do this is you follow the data and if the data takes you outside of the box you’re in, you’ve got to get permission to go outside the box and build there. You can’t say I’m not permitted to play in that box over there, so I can’t solve the problem. We don’t let that happen. But the deployment plans are fluid. It’s based on data, it’s based on what you’re learning.
Michael: From your experience what metrics are most important for tracking a new deployment?
Gary: Well, you got to do the financials to make Wall Street happy if it’s a publicly traded company, right? You’ve got to do the financials, there’s no doubt about it but you got to make sure the financials are rational. I have seen both end of that. When I see people who claim there are no financial benefits if you don’t put the person out the door, for what its worth, GPS doesn’t play there. If that’s what the people want to do that this is all about we got to reduce the head count, we don’t play there. But there’s clearly more than that. You know, anybody that’s ever done this stuff knows there is a whole a lot more than that and the people are probably the least. You know, what you do is figure out where to redeploy a good resource and not cut them and put them out the door.
But the other one, I have seen, they’re the company called Dura here in the Detroit area and they are out of business now, but they actually claimed savings bigger than the revenue one year. It’s got to pass the sanity check, and it’s got to pass it so you got to do the financials. But it’s got to be, you know again, if you are delivering a tangible good to somebody, you know whether it’s to another company or to a consumer there’s got to be metrics of waste and there’s got to be metrics of on time delivery. There’s got to be metrics of compliance to schedule and I think you can get it all if you look at your inventories, compliance and plans you schedule and your waste I think you will basically have all the critical things that are in a, in a durable goods situation and that’s the bulk of business we do in the world, not just GPS but everybody. You will have to alter appropriately if you are a customer service organization or if you are selling software but then there is some analogue to that and you know, one of the things that if you look at our website we are GPS. You know, GPS we did that because we try to have some ideas in directional thing. You know, we are trying to play off that but clearly somebody already owned a GPS when we decided to name ourselves – that’s Global Productivity Solutions but you know, clearly somebody had that. So we have a in part of our website [name] is QTC and one of the things that we see is we serve websites and then only QTC and what is there to remind us of what metrics are important, it’s quality-time-cost.
So whatever process you are working in and what are the metrics, what defines if you are doing things right first time. What is the metrics of time? That’s your flow and the cost is cost. You know, it’s what is real whether it’s just a transaction cost of getting the piece of paper from here to there or whatever is what is it costing you. What could it cost you? You’ve got to know what perfection looks like or you’ve got to know what’s possible and one of the things that we have talked about is imagine what’s possible. Don’t imagine what you are going to budget, right? And so it’s going to be quality time and cost plus make sure you have the macro financials of how it floats to the bottom line and it’s got to be traceable to the bottom line.
Michael: All right. That makes sense. So, if anybody is out there looking at – you want to look at Global Productivity Solutions website it’s gpsqtc.com. Gary, can a company expect a return on their investment, a positive return on their investment during the deployment period or should they have longer term thinking? What have you seen from your experience?
Gary: Okay, so I’ve had the blessing of working with large companies and so my point of view as biased and I understand that. You know, one of the things and just real quick on that there are people out there saying that every project should get a quarter million dollars. Well, yeah if you are GE it probably should be $2 million but what happens if you’re a $10 million company that wants to do the same thing and that is a ridiculous thing to ask for, right?
Gary: And so a lot depends on who the company is, what your cash flow looks like, what your buy-in looks like, what your margins look like and all that sort of thing but then again we got the largest Fortune 50 deployment right now. There is a return on investment within the training period of Black Belts. There is a return on investment of the working projects for the customer and generally in the working projects for the customer returns is three to one or greater in the implementation period, and looking at annual savings 12 months after something has been done, okay? And in Black Belt training the returns are more typically on the five- to ten- to one range and it’s in the first year following it. So, if you are expecting to – I did four months worth of training in that time period I paid for everything – probably not realistic. But in the next 12 months you will have paid for that stage.
And you know, GE is a great example. They spent $200 million their first year of deployment and they saved $200 million. The next year it was over a billion because what they did is set the stage and set the momentum, right?
Gary: But certainly in the 12 months following if this is being done right in a larger corporation it’s got to have returns. In a smaller corporation… I have a good friend that runs a tool-and-die shop, and his potential savings – if we did everything perfect – are probably in the $5 million range. We do a lot of things to Lean out his organization by getting his spare parts for his customers. We make sure that that is done in a rational way. We do things and facilitate his flow and we work on defects. You know, again a lot of CNC programming and that’s sort of thing and there’s mistakes made.
Gary: We worked on these kind of things and his return is probably over two or three year period but it still the right thing to do because what he is doing is getting geared up to compete globally, and it’s got to be the right thing to do. But a lot depends on buy-in with your company and anybody who says every one has got to be a quarter million dollars has never had to work with a small company.
Michael: Right. So we have heard of different deployment models, top down deployment, middle out deployment, bottom up deployment, are these actual types of deployment plans and deployment models that people use, Gary?
Gary: Yeah. So let me tell you my bias. I like the Galvin, Bossidy, Welch model – you work for my company. This is how we do business here. We are rational people, we treat people fairly but this is how we do business here. And so in my mind the top down is the right way to do and get your organization in line, get your organization used to change, and then drive them in a rational way based on a reasonable plan, right? People try to do it and especially with Lean, and they say Lean is bottom up and the only thing I would tell you there is yes it’s got to be adopted at the bottom of the organizations. It’s got to be adopted by the people who actually do the work but one executive can destroy it in a second. So if you don’t have that alignment the best Lean deployments and the best Lean implementations are the ones where the executives really believe in the inverted pyramid, that I really work for the guy on the floor. It takes a long time to get people there and in the mean time it’s nice if they’re committed.
Michael: So, while people refer to Lean as a bottom up type of methodology for improving the work force because anybody can make changes to the process, really it should be top down where every executive is saying this is the way we run our organization where every single person on the floor is doing Lean to improve the process for the customer.
Gary: Exactly right. One person in management can destroy 10 years worth of work with Lean.
Gary: Any time, any time. If you hired a hundred of the wrong people they can Toyota down to a heartbeat. They don’t do that by the way but –
Michael: All right. So the next question that I have for you was one in which we referred to a couple of times in the past. We have talked about how Motorola was the standard of excellence for manufacturing excellence and then how GE in the 90s was then the standard of excellence for the way businesses were run. What do you say to executives at companies that bring you in that earnestly want to change the way they do business for the better – to save money in their production, to generate more money from the same resources that they have? What do you say to them when they ask you, “Well, why doesn’t Motorola still talk about Lean Six Sigma daily? Why doesn’t GE still talk about Six Sigma daily?”
Gary: It’s a good question. You know, all that stuff is a point in time. It’s like truth. You know, the truth is an intersection of two thoughts in time and as soon as it’s past it’s gone, you know? And that’s the same kind of thing with this thing, is if the behaviors of the organization don’t continue to support that kind of thinking, you know, again I can tell you exactly the point where Motorola changed. It was at the point where they declared that we don’t have to emphasize this 10 to 1 improvement anymore. We are the leaders in the industry. At that point they went into decline, they have been in decline ever since. They did one other thing. You know, it has been documented fairly well, it was in the same period of the 9-11 attacks in 2001 but there was a CEO there – it’s well-documented – that he believes so much in some of the words and not really understanding how his father had worked, it’s Chris Galvin by the way, or how Welch had worked, or any of those other guys.
He believed this participative management principal so much that he would do things like he didn’t have complete consensus of his staff but they are already on the Iridium project that they had invested a couple of million dollars’ worth in and was not going to be viable, and they spent another billion and a half before they decided to pull the plug. You got to know the balance between participative and autocratic, and again you and I have seen Welch run and he had it bounced down pretty well you know. Maybe a little biased as far as the autocratic but there’s got to be some point in time every leader has got to say, “No, this is it.” And you can’t pull that trigger very often because if you do you lose credibility but you can’t fail to pull it if it is necessary. So either there is a whole circuit but you will see the same thing. GE is not the same company as it was.
Maybe they moved in the right markets or maybe they are going to emerge in another 10 years from now of having made exactly the right moves from the last ten years maybe, but they aren’t that same leader. They don’t have the same stock price. They don’t have the same respect on Wall Street and they may actually doing everything exactly right just nobody understands what is exactly right and that could be all there is to it but I have a limited view of what happened to the Six Sigma program at GE but what I saw in 2003, 2004 or 2005 – somewhere in there – it had become more of value stream mapping project than a Six Sigma project. Nobody was diving deep. Everybody was thinking that if I mapped these processes and take a little bit time out of delivery of this CAT scan from take it from, you know, six months down to four months you know? And so it lost the meaning in that, in that transition and you know, maybe they understood their customers better. Maybe I don’t know but it didn’t have the same drive. It didn’t have the same emphasis and it certainly didn’t have the same hero on fire or Jack Welch kind of attitude as guys, that’s West and you are going with me, right?
Gary: That’s nice. You can have this, but I have seen it three times. His name was Galvin, Bossidy and Welch. And I am looking for the next one. When I find that guy I would hook up with him for five years if I can. Then call it a day, you know?
Michael: I just attended that ASQ Lean Six Sigma conference in Phoenix Arizona, Gary. I don’t remember which speaker it was but they asked for a show of hands of the audience members who don’t have support of their leadership team. As you might imagine a good number of hands went up. I venture a guess to say 25% to 50% of the hands went up in the audience. What are Lean Six Sigma professionals? What do change agents need to know about converting reluctant company executives to support Lean Six Sigma?
Gary: The only thing I could tell you is you got to try. If you can get them into a meeting there’s a lot of simple simulations you can do out there. There is a stupid thing out there called the beer game which you got to have people to play it.
Michael: The beer game?
Gary: Yeah, the beer game. It’s something out of Harvard in the 60s. It’s a – go look online.
Gary: But it’s a simulation supply chain and you know, one of the things that’s still common in 2012 is we have SAP systems, not SAP – we have MRP systems that can do fairly accurate predictions and we should be working on making those predictions more accurate but most people work with second guesses in the system. We have systems from people like Walmart that can go three or four layers deep in the supply chain if we let them. Most companies will stop it at the first level you know. You know, they feel that, I won’t pick on any companies here but Walmart speaks to the companies with major suppliers quite often inside that major supplier, the people don’t even understand what the Walmart data is. But they give consumption data on a daily basis, I think in they give it in real time basis these days. You can understand these kinds of things but the people choose not to share it. They choose instead to rely on antiquated MRP systems to make your best prediction based on the data given to them and never second guess them and I would tell you that my experience is that if you just let the systems, quality systems or what the system says you will probably improve immediately but man, I don’t know. How do you stop that kind of thinking? How do you stop that kind of belief that we’ve got all these systems that are based on good models and the work should be improving the model, refining and improving the model and not on second guessing it. It seems to be rampant in the industry in 2012. How do you stop that kind of thing.
Gary: And it’s not the easiest thing in the world to do because most people have been taught this is – well, we used words like optimized. You know, I looked at the MRP output and we have this optimized, you know. And you know, it’s how do you change that kind of thinking to get people to see you know and I don’t think there’s any magic answer but you got to try. If you can get them in simple simulations or if you can get them and say, “Trust me long enough to go in work in your processes and show you what it could be,” Right? But I don’t think there’s a magic answer there and you got to work, and you got to work, and you got to work, and you got to work them and if you got an absolutely wrong person in the organization you also got to work on seeing if they can be at least put aside and you know, that is a harsh thing to say. But the wrong leadership destroys any of the stuff and will prevent learning from happening but you know, you got to try. You got to engage every opportunity you have to have a conversation with these folks and again, the people that know me know that my natural inclination is not to be sociable and not to be chit-chatty. You know when there is a guy like that out there or a lady like that out there I try to engage them and we try to get them in a rational conversation and if nothing else, I will say “Can I just show you? Can you give me four hours with your staff and we will play a game.” And if I can get that, usually if we get there, they come out with a – you know, try it sometimes, the beer game.
Gary: If you can get people to play it what you learn is it doesn’t matter if there’s not communication going on along a supply chain where there’s disruptions in the process or people hold information and second guess the information and you can’t.
Michael: Yeah, definitely.
Gary: And the people have to understand that. The people have to still read the goal. The goal is still right, you know, and the people even in this day and age haven’t read the goal.
Gary: There is a book out there called that Adhocracy, and it has been there since the early 90s as well that basically describes that modern organizations have two organizations. One is the bureaucracy and it is not this thing we cuss and say bad things about it. It is to have the organization, you got to have to have it. You also have to have this ad hoc piece that we allow people to extract a piece of our process that’s running the way we want it to and actually go make change on not to go study it but to go make change on it and people have to have and be given the permission to do go do that. And it can’t be go study for a while and come back to me and I will tell you whether you can do something with it or not. You got to trust your people enough to let them go do it.
You got to have these kind of things and until you can get people to see those kind of things. You don’t get far with them but you just keep on trying, and keep on trying, and keep on trying and you will be amazed how many converts you can get. And you’d be amazed how many people can be stubborn about it.
Michael: I have seen these people and I got to say Gary I am really disappointed when you brought the beer game I thought it involved happy hours and bars and but –
Gary: That’s after hours of black belt training.
Michael: Exactly. So let’s wrap this up. I got one final question for you. We have talked about basically six major areas: the engagements, the execution of the initial projects, the training from mid-level managers down the first line, the management reviews and the sustainability piece. Where else do companies typically fail from what you have seen when developing a Lean Six Sigma deployment plan? If they did all these things right would they have the greatest possibility… You know, clearly you’re never going to have a 100% success just by doing these things. But if you only did these things would you have the greatest possibility of success or are there other areas that you have seen that can affect the success and lead to failure?
Gary: Well, if we can affect market conditions that would be a nice thing to be able to – but you know, market conditions can definitely mess up anything or make something phenomenally successful that shouldn’t be successful or on its, the merits of the process, right? But you know the only thing I have put on top of that is to have someone experienced and there’s lots of people out there with lots of good experience. Having somebody out there experienced that can be overseeing this thing, they can give you good advice because there’s got to be mid-course corrections always, always.
Michael: And that could be internal people that are hired into the company or could be external hiring company like GPS?
Gary: Preferably somebody inside the company, they have more leverage.
Michael: Okay, that’s interesting. Because often times I’ve thought that when you bring in consultants and you are paying them you know a daily rate or a contract people listen to them a little bit more than people inside the company.
Gary: They do. They absolutely, they do. You know, again one of the dirty secrets of what we do is a lot of times we just go and talk to people and get attention paid to what they know, and that’s kind of a shame but…
Michael: It is.
Gary: You need somebody in a high enough level of respect. You know, VP, chief operating officer for example that has the right skills and the right experience would be the right person. The internal logic is always the best but the internal advocate can also stop that when the consultant comes in and implements which people already know because he makes that not the culture of the company that you are working in and we make it, where we listen to our people. We implement their ideas. We give them time for creativity and we tell them we value their brains. But that’s got to happen at some higher level in the organization for any kind of sustainability to happen.
Gary: And I would like to tell you have to hire me and do it but the truth of the matter is that I know it works better if the right person is inside the company.
Michael: All right, great advice. If you have a follow up question about deployment planning please post in the comments below this video. I will ask Gary to come back and answer as many as he can. If people want to follow you Gary is there a way that they can keep up with your activities and what GPS is doing maybe through Twitter or another social network?
Gary: All right, we are on Twitter and LinkedIn. The Twitter is GPSQTC just without the comma like on our website. On Facebook we are GPSQTC as well. Not everybody in my company likes the QTC in the end but you know, GPS was taken.
Gary: They own both those things as well.
We also have, just recently launched a website, our re-launch of our website that were starting up a blog. I kind of let a blog go in 2008 because I was a little bit consumed to try to rebuild the business after the collapse of the economy around Detroit but we are revitalizing that. And I will make the promise I make to everybody we have ever engaged with, somebody who is trying and that needs help, who would like some help, give me a call, write me an email, or you can get me though the website, you can get me through Twitter, you can get me through LinkedIn. If somebody is serious about this stuff and have done their homework and are really trying to understand things I’ll help you as much as I can.
Michael: Great. Is there an email address that you are willing to say that if people would like to contact you directly, they can do so?
Gary: Sure. It’s [email protected] Again, quality, time and cost, the only things that are important measure right?
Michael: I’m going to take a moment to urge the audience right now – if you received value out of this interview, and I know I did because Gary has done a fantastic job explaining deployment planning – please take a moment right now to say thank you. Gary has given up an hour of his time on the show. Before we even got on the show, we did pre-interview and we have prep before hand. This is not a small commitment that Gary has made to help educate the community about deployment planning. Please take a moment to say thank you. It’s as easy as posting a comment below this show and saying, “Thanks, I enjoyed this part most.” Or, “I don’t understand this but I really appreciated what you are saying Gary. Would you mind elaborating on this?” or you can post it at Twitter and say, “Thanks GPSQTC. Gary, I appreciated the show on iSixSigma.” Or on LinkedIn as Gary has urged.
But when you do this you start to create a relationship and a relationship can grow over time. If you don’t start that relationship it never has a chance to grow and business is all about relationships, so I urge you guys to do that right now. I’m going to say thank you again to Gary and Global Productivity Solutions by mentioning his website gpsqtc.com.
Gary Cone, Founding Partner at Global Productivity Solutions, thank you for coming on the iSixSigma show, sharing your knowledge, and helping others become more successful change agents and business leaders.
Gary: Thanks Mike.
Michael: Thank you all for watching and we will see you next time.
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