iSixSigma

Communication

The Secret to Leadership? Enable Joy

We are all members of teams of one type or another, but have you ever stopped to think about how to lead a team well when you aren’t the boss? There’s a plethora of advice about being a better boss and the like, but how about a team that will only be together for a…

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Give Your Elevator Speech a Lift

Imagine you run into a senior leader in your organization in the elevator or while walking down the hallway. The leader asks, “What are you working on?” You could say, “Oh, you know me, I’m keeping busy” or perhaps “I’m working on a few new projects” or even “I’m making great progress on my project…

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You’re Coming in Broken and Unreadable

The phrase “you’re coming in broken and unreadable” is military speak for telling someone that their communication is breaking up and you cannot understand the message they are trying to send. This could be disastrous for one or both parties. The message could be a call to warn of an imminent attack on your position…

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The 5S of Communication

Lean 5S (sort, simplify, shine, standardize, sustain) are about organizing work space so we can be more efficient, effective and productive. All Lean concepts are about how work gets done. There are many benefits Lean 5S can provide including improving safety, decreasing down time, raising employee morale, identifying problems more quickly and establishing convenient work…

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Integrate Values into Business Processes

The intent of any organization’s process improvement efforts is to improve the effectiveness (e.g., reduce defects) and efficiency (e.g., cost cutting per transaction) of the business process. What one often does not see as part of the effectiveness definition, however, is the expectation that the newly redesigned or improved business processes need to reflect the…

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Communicate Change Throughout the Value Stream

I was recently asked, “What is the most efficient way to communicate change throughout the value stream?” What I am about to propose does not need to take the place of other methods to communicate change. Historically, email, newsletters, video or updating policies all have had their place. I have had good experiences using a…

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Spreading the Word Throughout the Supply Chain

In a recent survey, iSixSigma gathered data on how organizations communicate about their Six Sigma efforts – data that reflects a lack of communication both within and outside of Six Sigma programs. A resulting iSixSigma Magazine research report, “Spreading the Word,” examined internal communication. Externally, the flow of information – or at least the knowledge…

A Project Charter Communication Strategy Is Essential

Six Sigma Black Belts, Master Black Belts and project Champions, when embarking on a DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control), DMADV (Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, Verify) or process management project, need to be aware of the importance of establishing a communication plan when developing and validating a team charter. A finely executed Black Belt project can suffer…

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The Eight Elements of TQM

Total Quality Management (TQM) is a management approach that originated in the 1950s and has steadily become more popular since the early 1980s. Total quality is a description of the culture, attitude and organization of a company that strives to provide customers with products and services that satisfy their needs. The culture requires quality in all…

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Three Deadly Sins In Strategic Planning

When clients are not getting the results they expect from their strategic plans, there are usually three overlooked causes – incomplete planning, inadequate links between strategy and action, and poor communication. Are you getting enough from your Six Sigma strategic plan?

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The Role of Human Resources (HR) in Six Sigma

Chances are you’ve heard of Six Sigma, perhaps in connection with General Electric, the company that made it popular in the 1990s. You may even know that Six Sigma uses statistical techniques to improve processes in both manufacturing and service industries. But did you know there is an important role for Human Resources (HR) in…

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Communication Strategies for Six Sigma Initiatives, Part 2

Making the decision to bring Six Sigma into your organization is just the first step on a long journey. Although this approach has proven successful for a variety of industries (including manufacturing, transactional and professional services), the best-laid plans may go awry if the focus is solely on the technical side, without considering the cultural…

Generating Support for a Sales Quality Initiative

A quality initiative in sales – an impossible dream? With the right proposition and simple techniques, not only is it possible but it can also be a successful venture. The goal is to achieve performance improvements similar to those achieved in manufacturing and elsewhere using quality-oriented techniques. Unfortunately, these initiatives often produce nothing but resentment…

A Project Charter Communication Strategy Is Essential

Six Sigma Black Belts, Master Black Belts and Project Champions, when embarking on a DMAIC, DMADV or Process Management project, need to be aware of the importance of establishing a communication plan when developing and validating a team charter. A finely executed Black Belt project can suffer disappointing results if an efficient mechanism is not…

Six Sigma Via Context

I’m sure all of us experience daily memos, emails, voice mail, procedures, forms, and reports that are nearly meaningless due to lack of context. Some ramble on with obvious passion but fail to explain what the heck they’re talking about. Some are very beautiful with lots of statistical charts and graphs yet without simple contextual…

Words of Advice for Frustrated Black Belts

“I entered the Six Sigma program with our organization in May as a BB candidate. Since then I have encountered a number of setbacks and frustrations. They aren’t unique to me, either. Many other BBs at my company are experiencing the same things. I’m hoping for some general advice. What can you do (as a…

Preventing Conflicts Through Stakeholder Management

A stakeholder of a Six Sigma project is anyone associated with the project either directly or indirectly. Examples of stakeholders are supervisors providing resources, team members, department heads and employees involved in the process. An up-front analysis of who the stakeholders are and how and when to involve them in the project can prevent potential…

Voice of the Business, Customer, Process and Employee

Business could not have been better. Customers were reacting positively to the company’s new and enhanced service portfolio, the company entered the market without much competition and customer satisfaction was at an all-time high. Profitability continued to rise, and the company’s efficiency rate was impressive. But then things changed. New account numbers abruptly fell. Some…

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Reserve Unit Improves Requisition Process

For Lt. Col. Harry Yates of the 335th Theater Signal Command and his deployment advisor Capt. George Harris, Lean Six Sigma is having a big impact on the way daily work gets done. The 335th is an Army Reserve command co-located with Fort McPherson in East Point, Georgia. It is responsible for signal operations supporting…

The Initial Focus – Strategy or Projects?

Organizations often have a strategy and process improvement program in place, but eventually start seeing signs of waning momentum. The organizations experience a familiar realization that it is difficult to sustain improvements. Organizations including hospitals and health systems have encountered similar challenges. It is not easy to launch a major change initiative in healthcare, and…

Communication and Business Case Key to Revising Process

Through a two-year Six Sigma project, the Department of Defense (DoD) Acquisition and Technology Programs Task Force (ATP TF) coordinated a revision to a joint weapon system safety review process that provided a 59 percent reduction in cycle time. Without the Six Sigma framework, the project might not have achieved the success it did within…

Gain Support with Straight Talk and Exit Strategy Tools

Effective cultural change is not simply the result of a large group of people accepting the arguments of other influential people – it is the sum of the change of that population’s values, operational knowledge and habitual behaviors. Essentially, culture is not changed until a majority of the population is thinking and acting differently from…

Bringing the Balanced Scorecard Back to Life

Some industry analysts and organizational executives have questioned the effectiveness of the balanced scorecard. The tool, introduced by Robert Kaplan and David Norton in 1992 in an article in the Harvard Business Review, is used to articulate to individual employees the organizational goals and objectives set by management. But some modern critics of the balanced…

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How to Turn Resistance into Support for Lean Six Sigma

One phrase in Lean Six Sigma that may be heard more than any other is “culture change.” Most organizations today are undergoing some form of culture change, and 75 percent of all major or cultural changes fail to achieve their goals. Experience shows when strength and culture collide, culture has a higher probability of winning….

Displaying Project Storyboards Reenergizes Effort

Prior to and during the launch of Lean Six Sigma (LSS), the intent of the program and how it will be beneficial to the company must be communicated to all employees, else the organization risks confusion and disenchantment from the outset. Sometimes, even when the effort gets a good start, difficulty arises in maintaining the…

Six Sigma Presentations: On Target with Minimum Variation

Six Sigma presentations are something every level of practitioner – Green Belt, Black Belt, Master Black Belt, Champion and even deployment leader – must do. However, many presenters face their initial efforts with a great deal to say but without a great deal of experience in saying it. As you prepare your first presentation or…

Manager’s Guide: Fostering Success with Lean Six Sigma

Managers play a key role in building a successful Lean Six Sigma organization. They must create and foster an environment that sets the stage for employee success. Here are six essential factors for creating Lean Six Sigma that thrives: Pick the right projects Pick the right people Follow the method Clearly define roles and responsibilities…

Success of Improvement Initiative Depends on People

Whether it is Lean, DMAIC or DFSS, Six Sigma boils down to improving business processes. And irrespective of the methodology employed or the scientific rigor behind it, every process improvement initiative – if it is to be successful – has to be approved, understood and implemented by people. Given the body of work published about human inertia…

Presentation Development/Delivery Tips for Six Sigma

While those new to Six Sigma sometimes assume Black Belts and other practitioners constantly sit in front of computers running numbers through statistical software, that is far from the truth. Indeed, everyone involved in Six Sigma spends much more time interacting with their fellow employees and managers. And, with some regularity, those interactions are in…

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Process Ownership: A Vital Role in Six Sigma Success

Process owners are a vital part of successful DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) and DFSS (Design for Six Sigma) projects. Process owners are responsible for the management of processes within the organization. In some cases process owners are current leaders/managers, and in other cases process owners may be taken from non-leadership positions. They are the…

Not Just Statistics: Implementing the Cultural Change

When contemplating a Six Sigma initiative, it is easy to visualize a group of technically skilled individuals running around with pocket-protectors and laptops, statistical software running 24/7 and operational problems and defects disappearing at a rapid pace. In reality, Black Belts learn not only statistical tools and Lean techniques, but also how to apply them…

Using Interviews to Shape a Six Sigma Deployment

For any major change initiative like Six Sigma to endure, it must become part of the culture of the business. Conducting interviews with the CEO and those who report directly to the CEO, as well as other key influencers is a great way to identify critical elements of success for the business as a whole…