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The Agreement Process: 3 Steps to Achieve Buy-in

Anyone who has implemented continuous improvement programs understands that employees are the people who make the changes happen. You can force their hands and use managerial authority to direct change, but if team members do not accept and embrace change management, you will not reap the full benefits of change, and sustaining the change will…

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How to Win Support for Continuous Improvement Programs and Projects

Gaining support to implement and sustain a continuous improvement program is an oft-voiced concern of Lean Six Sigma (LSS) practitioners. These concerns reflect frustration in both senses of the term –  feeling frustrated personally and encountering attitudes that frustrate the effectiveness of the program. Three sets of skills and methods have shown success in gaining…

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Leadership and Lean Six Sigma

Is leadership from the bottom-up better than top-down? How can employees convince and excite their leaders about the opportunities waiting for them with a Lean Six Sigma deployment? The best leadership references on iSixSigma can be found at the following links: Ask the Expert: The Topic – Six Sigma and Employees Developing Change Leadership by…

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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…

Using the DMAIC Model to Achieve Buy-in

When project managers begin studying Lean Six Sigma, the first question asked is often, “How will I get buy-in?” Although the core concepts and methodologies may make sense to project managers, the question of buy-in sometimes overshadows this powerful methodology for process improvement. There are many root causes for why people are reluctant to lend…

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Managing Six Sigma Change Resistance

A critical component of any successful Six Sigma project is to overcome resistance to change. The reason: Without user acceptance, any process improvement is doomed to fail. Therefore, proper anticipation and understanding the approaches to various resistance tactics is essential to success. People resist change in the workplace in many ways, but among the more…

My Business Is Different, Six Sigma Won’t Work

If you think Six Sigma won’t work for your company, you are either ignorant or refuse to change. Every business process can be measured, improved and controlled using the Six Sigma methodology. Reading the iSixSigma Discussion Forum unearthed a thread about the application of Six Sigma to Facilities Management: When it comes to the implementation…

Safeguard Against Four Forms of Six Sigma Opposition

Over the years, I have had numerous inquiries from readers about overcoming opposition to Six Sigma. Interestingly enough,  have also experienced this opposition when speaking with prospective or existing clients, some of whom have asked me not to mention Six Sigma but to speak to tools in a generic fashion. Obviously, opposition to the method…

The Merits of ‘Know-nothing’ Belts and Champions

In the musical Camelot, there is a landmark scene in which King Arthur discusses his dream of a new legal system with Pellinore, the scraggly old king that Arthur adopted into his court. This new legal system would have trials led by a judge and the ultimate verdict would be decided by a group of…

Overcoming Initial Resistance to Six Sigma

“We don’t have processes. What I mean to say is, we don’t use them.” This was the reply of a Fortune 500 executive when asked recently about his company’s processes. Oddly enough, this response is quite common in spite of the inordinate amount of time and effort spent trying to convince managers otherwise. Most managers…

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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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…

Gain Support with Organizational Improvement Strategy

Striving to improve should be the prime directive for all business leaders. If organizations do not improve, they run the risk of getting left behind. So the question is: What is the best strategy or approach for improvement? Over the last 20 years, many continuous improvement initiatives have been introduced, but only one seems to…

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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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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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Sustaining Change Requires Focus on Stakeholders

A Six Sigma initiative – or any change process for that matter – is only successful in the long run if the stakeholders truly adopt and sustain the change. Process and technology change cannot be implemented without a change in the hearts, souls and behaviors of the people involved in or impacted by the change….

Converting Skeptics and Keeping Them On Board

A powerful process improvement tool since the 1980s, Six Sigma has grown in popularity over recent years while less effective initiatives have faded away. Yet some still believe Six Sigma will ultimately share that same fate. These skeptics are people who feel burdened by the disruption Six Sigma has caused in their responsibilities and authority….

Change Dynamics: Prepare for Optimal Buy-in

We are constantly hearing about change. Change in the political environment, change in the economic environment, change in our personal lives and change in the business environment. Change has become part of everyone’s life. For instance, no one uses a briefcase-sized cell phone anymore, and mimeograph machines have long been relegated to the storage room….

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…

Trailblazing Efforts Drive Strategic Objectives

Turning strategic stretch goals into daily behavioral change has never been easy for big companies. While executives talk about customer focus, what passes for intimate financial interactions in a busy call center is often laden with tedious work-arounds, risk-adverse rules, hopelessly complex technical redundancies and platform interactions. At one of the world’s largest mutual fund…

Ten Ways to Boost Up a ‘Pretty Good’ Six Sigma Program

Many process improvement efforts are doing well enough, limping along with casual support from the management team, blissful ignorance from most first-line employees, some frustration from overtrained and underutilized Belts, and savings and improvement that are neither earth-shattering nor close to entitlement. Here are a few relatively simple and straightforward actions to take to turn…

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Demonstrating Chart Turnaround Success Gains Buy-in

One of the participants in our Six Sigma Black Belt training program expressed concern about a lack of buy-in for Six Sigma in her organization. With little inquiry into the matter, we discovered that the means she adopted to gain buy-in were not apt for selling the philosophy. A lack of buy-in is most common…

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…

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….

Yellow Belts: Creating a Corporate Sense of Inclusion

As the Lean and Six Sigma evolution makes its way throughout the financial services industry and organizations make decisions on how to best spend training dollars, an interesting trend is emerging. Many companies looking at ways to more broadly incorporate Lean and Six Sigma into their cultures are finding that a general knowledge across the…

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…

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…

Overcoming the Barriers to Change in Healthcare System

Research has shown that 95 percent of diets fail over the long term. Oddly enough, various studies show that 60 to 80 percent of major change initiatives also fail. In both cases, it is certainly not for lack of good intentions. For a person who has been on a successful diet, it is frustrating to…

Overcoming the Challenges to Project Realization

Black Belt project would end with a concise set of action items being turned over to the transition owner who would then swiftly implement them and achieve the desired results. But for many Six Sigma practitioners in transactional environments, simply handing off the project does not guarantee that the gains will be realized. Even in…

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…

Healthcare Quality Initiatives: The Role of Leadership

A distinguished panel of healthcare executives recently shared their thoughts on the importance of leaders taking an active and visible role in their organization’s quality initiatives. They also agreed on the need for organizations to develop the right management systems and structures to adequately support their quality efforts, measure outcomes and encourage accountability. Speaking on…

‘People Complexity’ Can Require a Special Roadmap

Despite the growing awareness that the standard Six Sigma DMAIC toolkit can be applied to process problems in so-called transactional environments – as well as manufacturing – improvements to existing processes do not always involve just tweaking of “settings” in the process. This is because processes in transactional environments contain lots of what have come…

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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…

Managing the Executives for Lean Six Sigma Success

Being at the focal point in the cultural migration of executing change using Lean Six Sigma, deployment leaders/deployment Champions have many obstacles and opportunities to deal with. Strange as it might seem, the people who may be pushing the hardest for the results inherent in Lean Six Sigma deployments are the same ones who can…

The Employee Perspective of the Six Sigma Methodology

Those who lead Six Sigma improvement projects often are in a teaching position, instructing employees who participate on project teams but have no experience with the methodology. Obviously, the inexperienced employees learn as they work on a project. But what is not as obvious is that the leaders also learn – no matter how much Six…

Turning Management Reluctance into Six Sigma Support

It would be great if every organization had senior management fully on board from the start of a Six Sigma program. Think Larry Bossidy at AlliedSignal and Jack Welch at GE. But not every organization is so lucky; many improvement efforts start at middle or lower levels. A middle manager gets a vision about how…