iSixSigma

Leadership

Textron CEO on Six Sigma

USA Today reporter Del Jones interviews Textron CEO Lewis Campbell. This is an outstanding Q&A session with a CEO who knows Six Sigma. Finally, a mainsteam media outlet that goes right to the source for information about the success of Six Sigma. Nine tough questions, nine solid answers. I especially liked the final question about…

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Lean on Me

We graduated another Lean Six Sigma class last week. Our version of Lean Six Sigma is based on the DMAIC structure and Lean tools that works well in our healthcare organization, and this was our 8th class since October 2006. Just before we handed out the certificates for course completion, the hospital President who took…

Six Sigma for Leadership Development

Gail Farnsley is the CIO at Cummins. She is also a Green Belt using her Six Sigma skills tackle a leadership development project she dreamed up. She is hoping to use Six Sigma to identify and develop employees with potential to move into IT management. Specifically, management that reports directly to her. Farnsley has realized…

Team Excellence

I have had the fortune to serve twice on the ASQ’s International Team Excellence Awards judging panel. It’s not the entries that I want to talk about, but the experience of serving on the panel. The details of the competition and the criteria are posted on the ASQ website, www.asq.org. When I volunteered to serve…

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Feedback, Schmeedback

When my fellow Black Belts and I facilitate, or teach, we ask the participants to give us feedback at the end of each session. We use the plus-delta format that we inherited from our original consultants, by dividing a flip-chart page into two columns for the “plusses” (things that worked well, were meaningful, or strengths)…

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12 Angry Men (1957)

The first time I watched Sidney Lumet’s 12 Angry Men (1957) was four years back, at a Six Sigma leadership workshop. We were only 3 days into a two week long training, and some of us were already stretched to optimal stress levels. Being a bit more of an action buff, and being after a…

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Lets be Pragmatic

I believe Deming may have said something in this area, but given I couldn’t find a famous quote I made one up. 80% of business issues come from the process and only 20% from the people who work at the business If someone told me that, I’d say, No!Look at the things people do that…

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Voice of the Customer

Like many organizations, ours began their Six Sigma deployment with a consultant-based training and project mentorship. We were successful at internalizing the training, and we’ve used a value-stream approach to selecting improvement projects, but the process owners never seemed to be the ones to light the fire – most wait to be tapped on the…

Candy

Things that make you feel good in right away aren’t always beneficial in the long run. Some things, like candy, are actually harmful in the long term. While others, like getting the high score on Space Invaders, just don’t end up mattering very much. You feel good as they are happening, but beyond that they…

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Nail Down Your Project with PBL

A good project gets you the facts, the data. Talk objectively with those facts and you have a water tight case for any ‘rhetoric’! In my Blog Man v. Machine I talked about PBL; ’Performance Based Leadership’, basically Behavioral Science that at Bechtel they use hand in hand with DMAICT. They have an acronym called…

A Study of Female Executives: A Scorecard Approach

Anyone who knows me knows I am one of the largest fans of the modified balanced scorecard/business scorecard approach. I came across the following study results comparing gender differences at the executive level within organizations. There are those who claim men are more left-brained, thus, women = right dominance. Yet, there is a rise in…

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Documentation Dilemma

“Dilemma” is term properly reserved to describe a situation in which we must choose between two more-or-less equally unpleasant alternatives. This pretty much sums up how most organizations feel about documentation for Six Sigma projects. On the one hand, there is always an organizational craving (note that I am specifically avoiding the term “need” here)…

Courage in the Face of Fire

Tollgate reviews can be a real source of anxiety for belts of all colors and levels. For the Army, a tollgate is like a phase-line on the Battlefield. It allows leaders to know where you are in relation to everything else. Go pastit without permission or authority and there may be some repercussions. With projects,…

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Pieces of the Puzzle

Our organization’s Black Belts recentlyparticipated ina two-day retreat in which we did some team-building and strategy work for the upcoming fiscal year. We did a leadershipprofile that diagnoses each person’s preferred approach. The four main styles are generalized as Driver, Conscientious, Steady, and Interactive. I’m sure that the profile is similar to many others out…

A Leader to Follow

The following is theOpen Mike column from the May/June 2007 issue of iSixSigma Magazine, entitled “Getting Ahead in Business with Six Sigma.” Attending the IQPC Six Sigma Summit in January, I was excited to hear the keynote speaker, and I wondered what Gen. Colin Powell could teach Six Sigma professionals about leadership. He had a…

In a Vacuum

I was facilitating a process-mapping session recently, and one of the team members came up to me during a break. She said, “I think it’s really interesting that you are leading us in the process mapping in a way that’s much different than I’ve seen before.” I said, “What do you mean?” She explained that…

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Every Which Way

Recently, I was part of agroup Black Belts who were discussingthe pressure on leaders to improve, not just in one direction, but in as many ways as possible, seemingly all at once. Here’s a possible scenario, from a hypothetical healthcare organization in the beginning stages of deploying Lean Six Sigma. A Vice President is speaking…

Black Belt Image

Recently, I had an interesting conversationwith the editor of our facility newsletter. She was looking for short articles for the next edition, and I asked if she thought people would be interested in some tips for email organization. Simple stuff, like sorting your inbox by sender so you can take care of your boss’s communication…

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Off The Map

If you’ve read some of my previous blog entries, you’ll know I’m no fan of roadmaps. I used to think this was a radical proposition in the Six Sigma community. But more and more, when I talk to practitioners – the people on the ground who do the hands-on work of process improvement – I…

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I Should Write a Book

Many organizational leaders are inspired by management books, and quite a few have gone to the extremes of ordering the books for their leadership teams. Some even start book clubs or go through each book chapter by chapter in their meetings. I’m an avid reader and have gone through a lot of management books in…

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You are better than Toyota

People only jump when they are pushed. Kotter in his book Leading Change (1994) talks about creating the “Burning Platform”. My mental image of this burning platform is a team of guys and / or gals on a burning oil rig knowing the oil rig is going to sink but only jumping into the murky…

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Happy New Year

I don’t usually make too many New Year’s resolutions, but here are a few that I’ll be attempting this year. 1. To be less judgmental of people, and more judgmental aboutprocesses. 2. To look more closely at the “story behind the headlines” when confronted with a problem. 3. To clarify when I’m giving advice as…

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Heads or Tails?

When I’m looking at a process, it often seems like there’s more than one way to approach aproblem – without a clear-cut “right” or “best” solution.One of the issues that seems to be a frequent”let’s-flip-a-coin issue”is centralization vs decentralization, specifically related to decision-making. In some projects, a particular process has been decentralized – the rationale…

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Maintaining Momentum

It’s the holiday season and that means one thing: shopping! This is the one time of year where I will seriously shop, making my seasonal impulsive buys and spending money on items such as clothing, candy, electronics, etc. that I rarely buy throughout any other time of the year. Evidently, I am not alone in…

Acronyms and Anachronisms

Reading Gianna Clark’s latest blogmade me thing about all the “sayisms” that I’ve developed over the past three years of my Lean-Six Sigma journey. I have added lots of acronyms, sayings, and jargon in my daily speech – and I keep forgetting that not everybody is familiar with these terms (yet) – including my husband…

The Ultimate Accolade

Yesterday (9th October 2006) I heard that Edmund Phelps was awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize for Economics for his theories developed in the 1960’s on the interplay between inflation expectations and unemployment. This showed that there is a “natural” rate of unemployment, a level below which inflation pressures are likely to intensify. His theories led…

ASQ to iSixSigma: Cease and Desist

The American Society for Quality had an attorney send iSixSigma a cease and desist letter the other day for an article iSixSigma published back in 2001. In the article, Charles Waxer wrote, “ASQ only started offering certification a year or so ago.” This was in fact true in 2001, but since we don’t include a…

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What Do YOU Say to the “Non-believers”?

Much is said about how Six Sigma will radically change your company, how it will save millions of pounds / dollars, and how it will change your company’s culture. Little is said about on of the major problems most Six Sigma deployments even the mature ones face; the “non-believers.”

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Too Busy

I continue to be amazed at the creativity some people have. I’ve even heard some staff boast that they were “The Kings and Queens of Workarounds” because they knew how to get things done through back channels, crisis management, and personal connections that were never listed in any procedure manual. They are too busy to…

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Startup Projects

As the academic year begins our Six Sigma team has met, created a new team charter, and began accumulating a list of projects that we would like to try this year. Our team named “Gravy” (gravy, or Six Sigma, being the goal of the team) fits in our planning objective: “More Six Sigma projects to…

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The Anti-Hawthorne Effect

I recently participated in a great discussion with a group of Black Belts in my SSBB exam review class. We were talking aboutthe importance of “walking the process” to understand it. Several BBs had the experience of managers trying to create a process map in a back room somewhere – these managers swore that their…

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Greetings Earthlings

Coming from an IT background I am fluent in Techie. I feel right at home talking about NAT, BIOS, ERD, PERL, API, DHCP, IMAP, SMTP, SNMP and so on. With the right audience I can have rapid conversations in what may well sound like utter nonsense. But equally when working with a non-IT person I…

Six Sigma By Any Other Name…

Here’s a synopsis of a recent conversation I overheard: “We do Six Sigma, but we don’t call it that.” “Why not?” “It would scare people off.” “Huh?” “If we called it Six Sigma, that gets interpreted by people as this strange, large, project “thing” with lots of data and statistics and change and being monitored…

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Speaking Up

Recently, I was asked to participate in an evaluation of presentation skills for one of our senior leaders. The questionnaire included questions that I expected – “speaks concisely” – but also some that I didn’t. After I completedthe survey, I started to think about my own presentation strengths and weaknesses. Here are some of my…

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The Fundamental Questions

As I was scanning news this week, a couple of articles caught my eye. The first was a piece by Damon Darling in the New York Times about Farecast, an airfare search engine that aims to predict how much the price of an airline ticket will rise or fall before the flight actually occurs. Says…

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