iSixSigma

Teams

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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Enhancing GRPI with the Nominal Group and Delphi Techniques

Within Six Sigma’s change acceleration process, GRPI (goals, roles and responsibilities, process, and interpersonal skills) is a tool for team development. The GRPI model should be used in the following scenarios: When initiating a new team and planning its first steps When a team is not working well and it is not clear why GRPI…

The Five Challenges of Standard Work for Knowledge Workers

The goals of standard work are simple and straightforward. They are to: Provide everyone who performs a task with a well-documented, visual system that guides them through the proper execution of that task. Ensure that everyone performing a task follows a consistent reproducible process that minimizes opportunities for variation and error. Ensure that work flows…

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No More Cowboys: Teams for Change

I have been a Lean and Six Sigma Black Belt for two and a half years and have come to a heartbreaking realization: I’ll never be good at everything. This is not what my teachers expected from me. My Yellow, Green and Black Belt education included a diverse curriculum including a week on statistics and…

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Improving the Productivity of a Service Team

The manufacturing and transactional worlds have long used productivity as a measure of efficiency. Traditionally, a productivity metric has been used for assessing return on investment on machinery to measure the contributions of team members. In the growing service economy where human resources are the biggest driver of costs in the organization, management teams want…

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Six Qualities of Successful Green Belts

Many factors play a role in the success of a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt: support of top management, a well-defined and properly scoped project, a solid project team and more. One element that may be overlooked is the qualities of the candidates themselves. Everyone can contribute to continuous improvement efforts, but the Green Belt…

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Grabbing Hold of the GRPI Model

The model for team organization known as GRPI (goals, roles and responsibilities, process, and interpersonal skills) began in the field of social science and has since been adopted into Six Sigma’s change acceleration process (CAP) tool kit. Let’s start our discussion of GRPI by establishing the context around CAP. Change Acceleration – The Roots of…

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Building a Six Sigma Project Team

If a coach were assembling a basketball team, what criteria would be used to select the players? If an academic team were being selected, what would the criteria be? If the selection of a process improvement team were the objective, what criteria would be used? It seems simple, but it is easy to make simple…

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Hiring a Lean Mindset

I was recently asked if I was aware of any research on the advantages of hiring people with a “Lean mindset” vs. those with specific industry experience. My response was, regretfully, that I did not know of any documented research. I was then asked, would I prefer that my company hire people with a “Lean…

Building a Six Sigma Project Team

If you were selecting a basketball team, what criteria would you use to select the players? What about if you were selecting an academic team? If the selection of a process improvement team were the objective, what criteria would you use? The answers to these questions may seem simple, but Belts can sometimes make things…

Make It a Team Effort: Involving Employees Can Lead to Lasting Solutions

Problem solving teams are often confronted with resistance to change. Even if the change is positive, employees are not always willing to embrace the improvements identified through DMAIC projects. However, by involving the employees to solve problems together, instead of providing solutions for them, practitioners can help assure that employees not only buy into process…

Taming Human Nature in Six Sigma Projects

Is human nature undermining your Six Sigma project? It is quite possible. For instance, research shows that people make decisions up to seven seconds before they are even aware they have made them. Once they make a decision, humans are prone to confirmation bias, which leads them to seek out information that backs up that…

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Six Sigma Organizational Architecture – Rewards and Recognition

Six Sigma is a quality methodology that can produce significant benefit to businesses and organizations. Not much text, however, has been written about the structure needed to successfully implement Six Sigma quality within your business or organization. Another article on of Six Sigma Architecture focused on roles and responsibilities of a successful Six Sigma quality…

Lean and Six Sigma: Fixing Healthcare a Process at a Time

With many issues facing the U.S. healthcare system the task of “fixing” it seems insurmountable, but the appropriate implementation With so many different issues facing the U.S. healthcare system the task of “fixing” it can seem insurmountable. Every healthcare executive knows the litany of challenges: rising costs, inadequate insurance coverage, capacity constraints, patient safety concerns,…

Successful Six Sigma Project Reviews

I cannot over emphasize the importance of communication in Six Sigma process improvement projects. As Patrick Waddick stated in his project charter article, “a finely executed Black Belt project can suffer disappointing results if an efficient mechanism is not already in place to ensure that vital information is relayed to those members who need it.”…

Building Team Consensus

The Six Sigma quality methodology almost always requires a Black Belt or Green Belt to lead a team in solving a problem. When teams members interact – and no matter how well the Black or Green Belt can facilitate – opinions of the individual team members will inevitably differ and the team may end up deadlocked, compromising…

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Meeting Action Item Planning Worksheet

A tremendous amount of work goes into the design, planning and execution of a productive team meeting. Attendees should always know the purpose and desired outcome(s) of the meeting before getting too deep into the content. The meeting should start on time, an agenda should be set and previous meeting notes should be reviewed, if…

Maximize Six Sigma Team Performance

The Black Belt’s ability to maximize team members’ contributions is critical to the success of the Six Sigma project. Many factors must be addressed. Assuring Basic Team Member Needs During World War II Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) developed his famous hierarchy of needs study. He showed an individual needs hierarchy ranging from the most basic, to…

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Project Management: Remembering the Human Element

Project management is a discipline comprised of planning, organizing, and managing available resources, which results in meeting or exceeding project goals and objectives. Included in project management methodology are specific start and completion dates, as well as emphasis on constraints such as quality, scope, budget and time. In Green Belt training, project management may be…

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Reaching Excellence in Black Belt Performance

What separates high-performing Black Belts from low performers? Most people would probably automatically refer to project success: High-performing Black Belts better execute the Six Sigma methodology and deliver significant process improvements and accompanying financial benefits. While this answer is definitely true, it reflects a limited view. This article outlines a more comprehensive picture of Black…

How to Effectively Coach Green Belts and Black Belts

Green Belt and Black Belt coaching has for many organizations become an integral part of Lean Six Sigma implementation and critical to the success of improvement projects. However, standards and best practices of effective coaching are only rarely established. Some may ask, “Why coaching for someone who has gone through training?” While training is essential…

12 Tips for a More Motivated Team and Better Results

Lean Six Sigma, a process-driven program to reduce defects, relies heavily on a decidedly process-free emotion: passion. A motivated, driven team can make the difference between success and failure. I know about the power of motivation – I learned to walk again with braces and crutches after a 55-foot fall that left me as a…

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A Unique Roadmap to Guide Lean Six Sigma Champions

Most organizations have DMAIC and DFSS roadmaps to guide Black Belt and Green Belt projects. But what guides their Champions? Most Champions are busy people, often managers or executives with multiple and diverse responsibilities. In many cases, although not the optimum situation, Champions receive a meager one- or two-day overview in the Lean Six Sigma…

Three Elements of a Deployment Governance Framework

The ultimate goal of any Lean Six Sigma program is to achieve operation and execution excellence, which can only come about through a well-thought-out and executed deployment governance framework. A governance framework enables an organization to more rapidly implement positive change by establishing team structure, focusing on knowledge transfer and enabling people. With this framework,…

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Finding Black Belt Talent: The Buy-Make-Rent Dilemma

Should companies hire ready-to-go Black Belts, develop them internally or use a Black Belt from a consulting company? It is a question that many companies wrestle with during the early stages of deploying Six Sigma. The obvious trade-off is between the time it takes to develop one’s own talent and the time it takes to…

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A System for Colleague Consulting Among Black Belts

Most of the difficult situations Black Belts face in their day-to-day work are not related to the application of a specific Six Sigma tool, but rather to change or project management issues. For example, issues such as:  How to involve a stakeholder that is very negative about the project. How to get commitment from the…

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Developing BBs and MBBs: Three Questions to Answer

So your Lean Six Sigma initiative is looking good. Training is moving along, project results are coming in, momentum is building. Ah, the sweet smell of success. But before you get too comfortable, here is something for deployment leaders, and others in positions of leadership, to reflect on: Are you doing all you can to…

Innovative Training Methods Can Give Teams an Advantage

Often, new team members are introduced to Lean Six Sigma using the following model: One week of training One month of project work led by a Black Belt or Green Belt Individual coaching scheduled at regular intervals during project work A priority courier express company experimented with this model in order to increase the likelihood…

Army TACOM LCMC Strengthens Lean Six Sigma Deployment

Since 2007, the Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) Life Cycle Management Command (LCMC) has made efforts to institutionalize a culture of innovation and continuous improvement. The goal to have TACOM LCMC associates at every level advocate, pursue and implement continuous process improvement methods through the promulgation of Lean Six Sigma across the command is a…

From Dojo to Office: Training Lessons from Martial Arts

Failed Six Sigma efforts often are attributed to ineffective training of Black Belts and Master Black Belts. But there is a more fundamental issue at hand: the training and experience requested of Black Belts. It may be time to reconsider the typical certification process in order to produce expert Belts and lower the odds of…

Focus on Employees to Improve Healthcare Bottom Line

In a recent speech to a local chapter of the American Society for Quality, the speaker stated that in a typical work site as many as 15 percent of the employees actively work to subvert the goals of the organization. Their activities obviously have a negative effect on the clients of the organization and the…

Training Black Belts or Hiring Them – Which Is Better?

A company’s leadership has decided to fully deploy Six Sigma and is committed to reach its destination to change the culture. Currently, headcount includes a number of Black Belts and Green Belts. The organization has settled on a five-year plan to achieve Six Sigma, with an additional number of future Black Belts and future Green…

Process Improvement Teams Power Six Sigma Success

How can a company find time for improvement if its managers are spending all their time fighting fires and managing the day-to-day responsibilities? How is it possible to improve a process when the company barely has the resources to maintain it? This all too common obstacle faces many organizations. One approach that leverages these resources…

Leading Geographically Scattered Six Sigma Project Team

Leading a Six Sigma project team can have many challenges no matter the industry – manufacturing or services – and no matter the location from New York in the United States to New Delhi in India. But the challenges are more unique than most practitioners experience when the team is geographically scattered. Six Sigma began…

Leveraging Company-wide Knowledge to Support Projects

At least three kinds of knowledge are vital to the success of a Six Sigma project in any organization: Knowledge of the Six Sigma methodology – its steps, tools and techniques. Knowledge of the process being improved – how that process is currently implemented, what are its SIPOCs (suppliers, inputs, process, outputs and customers), what…

Well-run Process Improvement Teams a Key to Success

One of the key success factors of Six Sigma is the ability to set up and run an interdisciplinary, multi-skilled and management-supported process improvement team. A Six Sigma project team – like any small team of workers asked to effect change in their organization – is expected to help promote a culture of innovation and spontaneity…

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A Method for Picking Up the SLACK in a Team Project

A method exists for quality professionals who would like to obtain the benefits of a corrective and preventive action (CAPA) system, but do not have the time or resources to dedicate to deployment of the full initiative. This is particularly true for those working in companies involved in agile product development where there must be…

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Success in the Development Stages of Six Sigma Teams

All Six Sigma teams are groups of individuals, but not all groups of individuals have the cohesiveness of a team. Teams outperform individuals because they generate a special energy. This energy develops as team members work together, fusing their personal energies and talents to deliver tangible performance results. The behavioral descriptors of a successful team…

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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…

Tips and Technology for Six Sigma in Mobile Workforces

Six Sigma has been adopted by some of the world’s leading companies as a mechanism to improve bottom line results and delight customers. But though the companies have made spectacular gains in some areas – millions of dollars in increased revenue or reduced costs – success has not been uniform. Deploying Six Sigma in areas of…

Pace of Six Sigma Teams Differs Dramatically by Culture

Imagine that an organization has chartered four Six Sigma improvement teams – one each in France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States. Each has been given the charter to reduce manufacturing cycle times. The four facilities are virtually identical, producing comparable products and packaging, with the same technology. However, even with an equal degree…

Green Belt Mentoring: Re-Draw Dotted Line to Black Belts

Somewhere within the Six Sigma brother/sisterhood are the unwritten rules of hierarchy: Grandmaster Black Belts mentor Master Black Belts, Master Black Belts mentor Black Belts and Black Belts mentor Green Belts. It is a great example of a traditional pyramidal reporting structure. However, within this hierarchy lies a hidden factory of defects. Six Sigma deployments…

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