iSixSigma

Leadership

FLEXcon: Lean for the Long Run

The following are selected highlights of a corporate leadership profile of FLEXcon. The complete article – with more details about Lean application and how the company avoided layoffs during the recession – is available for purchase on the iSixSigma Marketplace. FLEXcon positions itself for growth by embracing Lean at every level More than 50 years…

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…

1 comment

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…

3 comments

Six Anchors to Make Change Stick

Through Lean Six Sigma projects and an arsenal of tools, Black Belts make change and manage change. But before Black Belts pat themselves on the back for a job well done, they should consider the following: How deep, pervasive and life altering are the initiated change? What mechanisms were put in place to make the…

9 comments

Painted into a Corner- Practical Leadership Tips

As I travel the country for Auburn University, assisting companies with lean implementations, one of the first signs of resistance occurs during the discussion of standards. Just last week, a supervisor said, “the operators feel like standards are painting them into a corner and don’t allow room for dealing with problems.” When I hear this…

1 comment

Disaster Preparedness

Greetings! This is my first blog for iSixSigma. By way of introduction, I’m on the outreach faculty of Auburn University where I support local industry with leadership coaching and lean implementation services. I look forward to sharing the common goal of continuous improvement and daily learning! As most of you know, Alabama was hit with…

1 comment

Lean Leaders Are Everywhere – If You Make It So

The first article of this series discussed how many Lean initiatives either fail outright or fail to deliver as planned. Furthermore, that article went on to attribute these shortcomings to four cultural factors. This article explores the second of these cultural factors: Lean Leadership. We will focus on why leadership is critical and highlight the…

3 comments

Master Black Belt Certification – The value of program leadership

  As many of you know, there are significant differences in Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt expectations and certification criteria between organizations. Typically Master Black Belt certifications focus on advanced tool knowledge, training/project coaching experience, portfolio management and program leadership to name a few of the most common ones. While I’ve always thought that…

4 comments

Finding the Balance Between Leadership and Management

The first article of this series discussed how a number of Lean initiatives either fail outright or fail to deliver as planned. Furthermore, the first article went on to attribute these shortcomings to four cultural factors: an organization’s purpose, its leadership, how it treats its people and how the organization views continuous improvement. This article…

A Holistic Approach to Process Improvement

Eric Michrowski of TELUS provided an excellent learning session at the iSixSigma Live! Summit & Awards on Tuesday, Feb. 8, at the Doral Golf Resort and Spa in Miami. Michrowski – the Director of the Process Improvement Center of Excellence and Lean Deployment Leader at this full-service, Canada-based telecommunications provider – shared with the audience…

There’s an L before Lean

I have a new saying for the new year: There’s an “L” before lean, and it’s Leadership. I’ve been saying this because I want to emphasize that lean is not the magic bullet that will cure disgruntled employees, overwhelmed staff, and broken processes… without effort from leaders. Over the years, as I have given lean…

1 comment

Has “Big Brass Fever” Infected Your Agency?

Recently, I had the privilege of viewing several Air Force presentations that introduced lean six sigma methodologies to senior leaders. The training was developed by the University of Tennessee’s, Center for Executive Education. I highly recommend their courses of instruction for any agency moving forward with Lean Six Sigma. I found particularly useful one of…

Leader Influence

Change management is seen as an essential component of many corporate initiatives, such as Six Sigma.Sponsors are identified, consultants are hired, and people are trained and deployed as change agents. Employees seem to embrace the change as demonstrated by their enthusiasm for training and certification, and resistance seems to be under control as few question…

Productivity of an Aging Workforce

CBS News recently had a report about “How BMW Deals with an Aging Workforce.” To develop solutions to overcome loss of productivity due to the aging workforce, BMW tested one assembly line by staffing it with workers with an average age of 47, the projected age of the entire workforce in 2017. They made 70…

Are You a Six Sigma Type?

It has been over 5 years since I moved from R&D and manufacturing roles to continuous improvement, both leading projects and supporting Lean Six Sigma deployment. As a CI professional, what I enjoy most is the opportunity to work on the most challenging issues facing the organization, to learn and improve myself by practicing the…

Five Why…The Voice of the Next Generation

The “Y” generation is definitely living up to its name. Why, why, why…everything is why these days. It appears that the good old days of say it and obey it are over and behind us. Blind faith leadership is becoming a thing of the past. Personally, I say thank goodness. After all, as Colin Powell…

Training Leaders to Think LEAN

Since 2004, Sheriff John Rutherford has being fostering a culture of continuous improvement throughout the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO). With over 3000 employees having received initial roll out training, a full fledged division that bears the continuous improvement title, a dedicated steering committee comprised of top level executives to help ensure every project’s success, and…

4 comments

Not So Fast

OK, we’ve got our kaizen team going full speed ahead, and one of the improvements will be to replace the central printer with individual desk printers to avoid interruptions and transportation waste. Workers won’t have to get up and walk to get their forms. Hooray! “But,” one of the workers says, “we like getting up…

2 comments

‘Whatta They Got That I Ain’t Got?”

I teach a full-day workshop called “Lean Boot Camp.” It’s an introduction to small-scope projects and tools, the kind you can do as a beginner like 5S and a Waste Walk. I use a phrase that I picked up somewhere: “The lean approach is simply having the ability to see waste, and the courage to…

5 comments

Benched

I’ve participated in a lot of projects where one of the first questions is: How are our competitors doing it? Are there any benchmarks or nationally-recognized “best practices?” While this may give a team a sense of security, or help to push stretch goals, sometimes I think it stifles creativity. If we are developing, or…

6 comments

What’s in your leadership toolbox? Is it enough?

Supervisors never “earn” the privilege to be disrespectful to subordinates simply because they have achieved a higher rank. This can be an indication that they have been promoted beyond their ability to lead and digress to using intimidation as a resource to get things done. If you find yourself using positional authority to get things…

1 comment

How I Became a Black Belt

Lean Six Sigma is still fairly new to the R&D people in the biotech and pharmaceutical industry, where I have been supporting its deployment. Often people ask me “What is Lean Six Sigma?” and “How did you become a Black Belt from a scientist?” I used to give a textbook answer to the first question…

9 comments

Call Me Aesop

If you are engaged in teaching, whether formally in classes or informally as you facilitate projects, you probably have a few favorite sayings that you like to use toremind people of important points. I take my blog title today from the ancient teacher Aesop, who liked to close his fables (usually stories with animal characters)…

5 comments

Teaching Lean Without Toyota?

When I teach lean tools, I naturally reference the Toyota Production System and talk about their journey (which they don’t call lean!) as an introduction to the topic. Naturally, in the healthcare setting, I don’t dwell on the assembly-line function too much, but I have always felt that it’s helpful to put the approach in…

16 comments

All or Nothing at All?

“All or nothin’ at all… Half a love never appealed to me If your heart, it never would yield to me Then I’d rather, rather have nothin’ at all.” (Song composed in 1939 by Arther Altman, lyrics by Jack Lawrence – a big hit for Frank Sinatra) I was thinking of these lyrics the other…

7 comments

So Ya Wanna Be a Black Belt

Lately I have been bombarded with well-meaning, intelligent, conscientious, motivated people asking me how they can get Black Belt certified. They’re not in a Six-Sigma environment; they just want to be able to learn how to improve their processes more effectively. So do they need to be a Black Belt? Here’s what I usually tell…

1 comment

With Thanks

I had a very nice phone call today, from a colleague who had chatted with me earlier about a current project. She called to say thanks for allowing her to bounce ideas around, which helped her clarify some things about herapproach to the process. Naturally I felt good to receive this feedback, and it made…

1 comment

The Fourth Musketeer

“One of all and all for one!” Or, in the original French, “Tous pour un, un pour tous!” In the story by Alexandre Dumas (1844), the three musketeers, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, were joined by the musketeer-wannabee D’Artagnan, without whom the first three would have led very boring lives. I was reminded of this the…

Parachute in the Fire Fighter

Organisation in chaos? Emergencies erupting? Been blind-sided by the unexpected? Project a few years late and still does not work? Need to get things under control? Make way for the Corporate Fire Fighter. (Phew!) This trusted pair of hands hits the ground running….makes rapid assessment of situation….. takes urgent action …… reports an outstanding success…

4 comments

Training: Enough, Already?

I enjoy teaching, so if you asked me whether you could do too much training, my first response would be “no, of course not!” But, on second thought, I would have to say, “well, maybe.” It’s been my experience that knowledge alone is usually not enough to create an improvement. A lot of people enjoy…

9 comments

Getting the Word Out

When I begin a new project, I include a Communication Plan as part of my team work. That is, we take the stakeholder list and think about who we need to be in communication with, as we move through the project phases. Some of you may do this based on an ARMI exercise (Approvers/ Resources/…

6 comments

Ready for Change… Almost!

You’ve completed your planning phase – whether it’s specifying value and mapping the value stream, Defining / Measuring / Analyzing, or Planning – and you’re ready to move into Creating Flow, Improving, or Doing. Hooray! The pilot plan has been finalized, the Process Owner says it’s fine, the team is ready to move forward. And…

Small Things

I’ve attended a lot of leadership development courses over the years, and received many handouts, folders, and binders chock full of ways to make myself into a better manager… of people, time, money, etc. One precept that has stuck with me is that we should pay attention tothe small things that are annoyances today, so…

5 comments

Management by Brutality is MUDA

I can not help but wonder if there is a Six Sigma tool for managers to use before they decide to administer discipline or impose a behavior intervention to a poorly performing employee. Management style is one of the key factors affecting high employee morale, optimum functioning and low turnover. When high morale is present,…

6 comments

More Than Advice

I’ve done a lot of informal coaching in my career – you know, the kind where you’re in conversation and someone says, “Gee, Sue, can you give me advice on…” and I get to cheerfully dispense my words of wisdom and then wish them good luck with their problem. Sometimes people seek me out and…

5 comments

WWDD?

Perhaps you all arrived at this conclusion way ahead of me, but I’m starting to worry more and more about the way we, as continuous improvement professionals, are spending our time. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the world in general, and the economy in particular, has gone off meds. Yes, I know, this isn’t news…

10 comments

New Year’s Resolution

This year, I’m making a resolution to do a good deed daily. This is inspired in part by Gianna Clark’s latest blog, How W.O.W.?, but also by my own sense of imbalance in the customer feedback that most organizations receive. I’ve communicated about problems and complaints many times – but – I realized that I…

The L Word

That would be “Leadership.” I’ve been given a definition of leadershipthat I’d like to discuss with you and ask your opinion about. The question that was posed to me was, “What is a leader?” I gave what I thought was a pretty good response – about having a vision, bringing people along in the direction…

11 comments

Thinking Ahead

One of the central problems all organizations face is balancing long term thinking with short terms needs. It is clear that time and resources need to be devoted to both; companies that live moment to moment don’t survive very long, while those that focus on the big picture without worrying about the details usually don’t…

4 comments

If Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Prioritized Projects…

Whichprioritized projects would Peter Piper pick? I’ve been asked to speak about project selection at an upcoming symposium. In doing research for this,I’ve reviewed articlesfrom iSixSigma and other sources, from both the Six Sigma “ranked project hopper” perspective and the Lean A3 – strategic deployment perspective. And I’ve done some project-picking in my time, too,…

2 comments

Sensei Certification?

A lot of my conversations recently have centered around certification for lean. Coming from colleagues who started in Six Sigma as a Green Belt or Black Belt, it seems “natural” that when you add lean facilitation to your skills, you could get certified in lean, too. But, as I understand it, the traditional path for…

6 comments

Cargo Cults

I can’t remember the first time I head the concept of a “Cargo Cult” used as a business analogy. But I can recall thinking that it was a powerful way to explain the dangers of throwing money and resources around trying to duplicate what another company had done without really taking the time to understand…

Educational

I had the privilege recently of helping to teach lean to a group of university leaders. I had great fun assisting with the first day of class, when we introduced basic lean concepts. However, when my instructing partner and I looked at our plus-deltas from the day (comments about what the participants valued, and what…

1 comment

Leadership: Right tools, Centered source

Tools are wonderful. Have you ever tried to unscrew a Phillips head screw with a wrench? Of course not. The right tool is critical to the job. Six Sigma tools are a wonderful technological advance that can transform an organization when used in the correct context. This is undisputable. Resistance is futile. But the ability…

2 comments

Who’s Your Jack Welch?

I was privileged recently to attend the American Society for Quality’s World Conference in Houston, TX. What an energetic gathering of quality-minded people! One topic thatI heard a lot of conversation about was concern for leadership of Lean and Six Sigma. There were many stories shared of new deployments, attempted deployments, and failed deployments. One…

4 comments

Magic Mirror On The Wall . . .

Magic Mirror on the Wall – Why did my deployment stall? When companies deploy Six Sigma, most have a vision of what that will mean to the organization. It might be improved customer satisfaction, or shorter cycle time or better quality products, cost reduction, revenue growth or maybe achieving an overall culture of excellence. Whatever…

2 comments

Cash: The Biggest “Y” of All

Every Six Sigma project is (or should be) built around improving a primary process metric: the Big Y. From there, we drill down into the critical factors, as measured by the “little y’s” – if we can improve the right factors, the primary metric will improve, and we can all declare victory and move on….

Speaking of Six Sigma

When I’m asked to do a presentation, for corporate training or national conferences, I always try to present in a style that reflects how we practice lean six sigma. How do you gain buy-in in any change process? By having the group participate in the discussion or decision! So, I add interactive segments into my…

3 comments