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Success Factors

Six Steps to Effectively Plan for Lean Six Sigma Efforts

Some of the complaints commonly levied against continuous improvement deployments is that they focus on the wrong issues, and that projects take too long or require too much investment (time, training and financial) in order to achieve meaningful results. Unfortunately, these complaints are often justified – not because of some fault in the Lean Six…

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Roadblocks to Implementation

Every Six Sigma project and Lean event goes exactly as planned right? There are many reasons for detours during your project journey; unfortunately, many of these are unpredictable. As much as we try to avoid these pitfalls by following established methodologies or hiring experienced project management personnel, it remains clear that some of the best…

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How to Improve Project Cycle Time

A common metric many organizations use to assess the performance of their Lean Six Sigma program is project cycle time – the total time from the beginning to the end of a process improvement project, including total process time and all delays. If your organization’s project cycle time is running higher than your targeted rate,…

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Driving Six Sigma Success Without Top-level Support

Common wisdom about Six Sigma is that top-level executive support is one of the prerequisites for having a successful deployment, regardless of the organization. Almost all Six Sigma training materials (either developed in-house or delivered by external consultants) for Green Belts and Black Belts focuses extensively on how executive support is critical for the success…

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What Makes a Training Program Effective?

The purpose of a training program is to impart knowledge of a system or process to someone new to that process. Individuals may have worked on something similar previously, so will have an idea, or at least a starting point, on which to build. However, most training programs must start with the basics and a…

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Avoid the ‘Bloom and Doom’ Cycle

Over the past decade, the success of Lean Six Sigma has been highly publicized. The widespread adoption of the process improvement methodology across many different business sectors is one indicator of success. However, little is written about companies that fail in their Six Sigma deployments, or at least scale back their support over time. For…

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How Can Lean Users Sustain Gains?

How’s your Lean initiative doing? Is it going great? Or is it starting to lose steam? Or is it clearly failing to meet expectations? Have you given up and gone back to the not-so “good old days” from which you had hoped to escape? These are questions I see a lot of firms both asking…

Eight Steps to a Successful Lean Six Sigma Implementation

For any organization, the first step in a Lean Six Sigma deployment is deciding to use the methodology. Once the leadership of an organization believes they can benefit from using Lean Six Sigma, they can follow eight steps – from creating a burning platform for adopting the approach to recognizing team member contributions – to…

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Top 10 Tips for Managing Six Sigma

How does an organization manage the Six Sigma process for delivering outstanding business results? 1. Leadership/top management commitment is essential. Secure the top management commitment by first training them. This training should consist of an introduction to Six Sigma, tools and techniques used, and the roles and responsibilities of the management as Champions. The leadership…

Becoming a Master Black Belt in Healthcare

A Master Black Belt (MBB) has been trained as a Six Sigma Black Belt and demonstrated proficiency in statistical tools and expertise in leading and teaching others. Within the healthcare organization, the MBB trains Black Belts and Green Belts, helping to select, scope and mentor projects. MBBs also guide the organization in addressing quality from…

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7 Keys To A Change Deployment Process

Launching a continuous improvement initiative of some kind has become the norm for a large cross section of organizations throughout the world today. The aim is often to reinvent themselves as superior competitors, fine-tuned to customer needs and robust to adverse changes in business conditions. Depending on which sector of the world of business one…

Understanding Six Sigma Deployment Failures

A recent iSixSigma Discussion Forum thread posed the following question: “Have there been any Six Sigma deployments that have failed?” My answer is ambiguous enough to make me sound like a politician. The question immediately begs definition of the term “failure.” My definition of a failure would be anything that does not deliver the Return…

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Six Sigma Critical Success Factors

“You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” This axiom, while intuitive for most managers and business professionals, is often not applied to the Six Sigma management process itself. For Six Sigma or any other management initiative to yield the advertised results, many factors must be considered, aligned, measured and acted upon. Having been involved with…

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Why Six Sigma Black Belts Make Better Leaders

A survey by iSixSigma Magazine of more than 1,300 business professionals whose companies are using Six Sigma revealed that leadership development programs which involve Six Sigma training are six times more likely to be called “highly successful” than those without. Many of these leadership development programs involve a Black Belt track for future leaders. Thus,…

Black Belt as Mobilizer: Key to Six Sigma Effectiveness

How does a company measure the effectiveness of a Six Sigma program? Common metrics include: time to the break-even point for the program, project completion rate, total and average financial value of completed Six Sigma projects, and average project completion time. The common element in all these metrics is that they rely on the effectiveness…

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Six Keys to a Successful Six Sigma Deployment

Six Sigma is a powerful tool for solving business problems and driving excellence in organizations. Its benefits can include breakthrough improvements, cost savings, defect reduction, greater customer satisfaction, and higher productivity and efficiency. To reap these benefits, however, organizations must pay close attention to six key factors that can make or break a Six Sigma…

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Work-out as a Problem-Solving Tool for Healthcare

Healthcare organizations face tremendous challenges in addressing efficiency, cost, quality, staffing shortages and mounting pressure to raise salaries. To bolster lagging morale and improve retention rates, management must empower staff and effectively leverage existing resources. Tools and techniques that support these imperatives are critical to the success of modern healthcare organizations. Many problems in healthcare…

Patient Management Scorecard Checks Health of Hospital

A patient management scorecard presents, in general, a comprehensive framework that helps healthcare managers to define strategies, track performance and provide information to show whether their institution is performing well in terms of its mission. By implementing this strategic management tool, hospitals can construct measures to aid performance measurements in areas essential to their strategies….

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Leadership Sustains High Performance in Manufacturing

How does one sustain high levels of performance in manufacturing after the first successful waves of Lean Six Sigma projects? Research done on 75 manufacturers, predominantly European, sheds light on the balance between product/process and people leadership capabilities needed to sustain high levels of performance. Of High Performers and Lagging Performers High Performers: Sustaining high…

Adjusting Continuous Improvement in Hard Economic Times

The events of the last few months can only be described as an economic perfect storm. Both junior companies and large conglomerates around the world went from planning their next multi-million (or billion) dollar expansion to putting projects on hold and cutting production, seemingly overnight. The focus should now be on managing costs, controlling expenses…

Building Cultural Acceptance Key to Lean Transformation

Successful transformation to a continuous process improvement culture is arduous. It requires an enterprise approach that engages the entire organization and challenges its norms. It requires knowledge of new tools and methodologies, and a level of internal discipline beyond that in which most organizations operate. Most organizations are addicted to quick fixes and immediate results….

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Lessons Learned from an Internal Software Organization

The organization described in this case study is a large insurance company headquartered in the western United States that began exploring Six Sigma about three-and-a-half years ago. The deployment included software development organizations across five regions and was initially driven by vice presidents. The company engaged a Six Sigma consulting firm to lead the effort….

Reflections on Six Sigma: Eleven Reasons It Has Thrived

It has been nearly 20 years since Motorola executive Bill Smith coined the phrase “Six Sigma.” This makes one ponder why it has been so successful. The following is a list of personal reflections upon Six Sigma’s longevity in no particular order: 1. The Partnership with Finance The involvement of finance in both the estimation…

Threads of Success and Failure in Process Improvement

Process improvement. By now anyone involved in any type of manufacturing or service industry is familiar with this term. Although there may be a vast array of particular meanings that may be assigned to the term, everyone agrees process improvement is a necessary part of maintaining a viable business. While most of the readers of…

Six Sigma Deployment Planning and Readiness Assessment

Anyone who has deployed Six Sigma, or has thought about deploying Six Sigma, is familiar with the main stumbling blocks to a successful deployment – lack of senior leader support, lack of data, longer-than-expected project cycle time, part-time Black Belt resources, and most important, poorly defined projects. Since the first financial firm started deploying Six…

Eight Lessons for Success in Lean Six Sigma Deployment

An uncounted number of corporate executives around the world have been quoted as saying: “General Electric has been extremely successful in its implementation of Six Sigma, but we are not GE!” Indeed, each company is unique. And it is questionable whether Jack Welch, the former head of GE at the time the company implemented Six…

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Common Success Factors, Uncommon Success in Europe

Whether implementing Six Sigma in Munich or Manhattan, Paris or Prague, certain common factors are critical for success. Nonetheless, how one successfully applies these factors is culturally dependent. Universal Critical Success Factors Accepting the General Electric definition of Six Sigma as “completely satisfying customers’ needs profitably” means that Six Sigma requires a company-wide initiative to…

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Scientific Problem-Solving: DMAIC in Terms of Y = f(x)

A major advantage provided by the implementation of Six Sigma is changing the thought process from trial and error to Y = f(x). Most training programs for Six Sigma seem to focus on teaching the tools rather than driving home the importance of scientific problem-solving for process improvement. That is where breakthroughs really begin. One…

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Guidelines for Making Lean Six Sigma Work in Sales

For a number of years, businesses in a wide range of industries have been successfully implementing Lean and Six Sigma in manufacturing and engineering, and more recently in the transactional processes in finance, administration and customer service. The last business area to see this improvement methodology arrive was the sales department. But already it is…

The Elements of Success When Starting Up Six Sigma

Thinking of starting a Six Sigma initiative this year or next year? For any adventure, the first few steps can set the mood for the rest of the journey. The same is true for a Six Sigma deployment, in which thoughtful planning can make the difference between respectable returns or a quality quagmire. This exclusive…

Leveraging: Stealing with Pride from Your Own Company

The CEO of a $1 billion business with sales and marketing affiliates in Europe, the Middle East and Africa asked the question, “When one of my affiliated businesses makes improvements, how do I get the benefits across all my businesses without having to wait for people to reinvent the wheel?” His question stimulated those responsible…

Measuring Six Sigma Results in the Healthcare Industry

With half a dozen years of experience, this may be a good time for the healthcare industry to revisit the question which titled a frequently cited article published in 1998, “Is Health Care Ready for Six Sigma?” The question may best be answered by examining how Six Sigma and related improvement methods have been deployed…

Eight Keys to a Successful Implementation of PACS

The Canadian government unveiled a plan in 2001 to create an interoperable electronic health record (EHR) for half of the country’s population by 2009. The plan is aimed at increasing healthcare efficiency, hereby helping to address Canada’s critical human resource shortages and potentially saving billions of dollars annually. As part of this effort, many hospitals…

Six Sigma Applies to IT, as Evidenced by Success

Does Six Sigma apply to IT? This question is heard quite often. It echoes questions that have been asked many times since the first attempts to apply Six Sigma beyond manufacturing. Does Six Sigma apply to finance? Healthcare? Banking? Software? Insurance? In each of those areas the answer turned out to be “yes,” as widely…

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Art of Integration with the Help of Lean and Six Sigma

At first glance it may seem un-Six Sigma-like to use art concepts in a discussion of Lean and Six Sigma and the merger of two large financial institutions. But in fact, any serious approach to integrating two extremely complex organizations can benefit from thinking in terms of art as well as science. The successful change…

Tips and Suggestions for Six Sigma Project Success

Tools and methodology will only get a person so far. Experience gained from the practical implementation of Six Sigma solutions is priceless. A list of tips, tools and suggestions for Six Sigma practitioners can help avoid many pitfalls of project management. Some fundamental points for project success are: Planning project work well. Determining the exact…