iSixSigma

Three Steps to Deliver Business Results

Executing actions directly aligned to an organization’s strategy is fundamental to achieving success. Strategy with no action is just an idea; action with no strategy is anarchy. Neither scenario enables a company to deliver results. This article explores the three essential steps of achieving success (as defined by a given organization). Successful organizations: 1) define…

Excitement Builds for First Retail Forum Keynotes

With just a few days to go, excitement is building for the iSixSigma Live! inaugural Retail Forum for Process Excellence, March 28-31. For four days next week all eyes in the process improvement world will focus on the Twin Cities region, as business leaders and operational experts gather at The Westin Galleria, in Edina, Minn.,…

The Implementation Plan – Getting Beyond the Quick Fix

One of my favorite elements of Six Sigma is researching a problem and finding the data to justify making an improvement. However, this element can also be one of the biggest barriers to securing support for a Six Sigma program. While practitioners might enjoy the hunt, executives often are looking for quick solutions that can…

A Stronger Chain

The familiar maxim “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link” has particular import for businesses committed to process improvement. For some companies, forging stronger, more collaborative relationships with suppliers and customers has become a natural, even necessary, part of their improvement efforts. “Early on, we knew that to create successful value streams,…

India Builds Reputation as Source of Best Practices in Management, Strategy

Until recently, the flow of management and strategy know-how was one-way; it was India that absorbed business models, technology and management systems from foreign corporations and institutions. As “India Inc.” raced to globalize and global companies sought to exploit the country’s low-cost talent pool, such industrialized-economy concepts as Kaizen, The Toyota Way, Six Sigma and…

1 comment

Sustaining Change with the SUCCESS Model

Any change to a process is only successful in the long run if the stakeholders truly adopt and sustain the change. Process and technology improvements cannot be implemented without a change in the hearts, minds and behaviors of the people involved in the change. True adoption and sustainability requires thoughtful planning and focus, which should…

1 comment

Six Sigma for Small- and Medium-sized Businesses

One of the more familiar dilemmas in business today is how to implement Six Sigma in small and medium-sized companies. This is a serious issue because larger companies are beginning to mandate Six Sigma to their supply base as a condition of doing future business. The problem arises when small and mid-sized organizations solicit deployment…

Three Deadly Sins In Strategic Planning

When clients are not getting the results they expect from their strategic plans, there are usually three overlooked causes – incomplete planning, inadequate links between strategy and action, and poor communication. Are you getting enough from your Six Sigma strategic plan?

2 comments

Project Selection Options

Six Sigma is accomplished one project at a time. The billions of dollars saved by companies around the world is the cumulative effect of properly selecting and defining business issues that can be assigned to Green Belts and Black Belts for solution. As you may have read last week, a strategic plan includes planning, adequate…

Software Defect Prevention – In a Nutshell

Organizations face many problems that impede rapid development of software systems critical to their operations and growth. The challenge in any software product development lies in minimizing the number of defects. Occurrence of defects is the greatest contributor to significant increases in product costs due to correction and rework time. Most defects are caused by…

2 comments

Strategies for Surveying Employees

Most mid to large companies or organizations can at one point or another, benefit from surveying their employees for the primary purpose of gauging morale. A survey may be needed for a number of reasons, including changes in employee behavior such as high absenteeism or a reduction in output; before or after major adjustments in…

Communication Strategies for Six Sigma Initiatives, Part 2

Making the decision to bring Six Sigma into your organization is just the first step on a long journey. Although this approach has proven successful for a variety of industries (including manufacturing, transactional and professional services), the best-laid plans may go awry if the focus is solely on the technical side, without considering the cultural…

Why Hire a Six Sigma Consultant?

“Changing what we have the power to change, accepting the things we cannot change, and becoming wise enough to know the difference between the two.” It is a very old saying, and one that many people aspire to. But when it comes to implementing quality within your business, many feel they have or should have…

1 comment

Six Sigma Trends: Next Generation of Projects

I would like to start a series of articles reflecting the University of Kassel’s research in deploying Six Sigma within cross–domain industrial applications. They cover the following topics: Six Sigma trends Advanced strategies Innovative team training I will certainly appreciate if these articles launch a discussion. Getting feedback, I will be able to tailor the…

1 comment

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…

How To Implement Quality

You have decided that you would like to implement a quality program within your business or organization. Consulting companies have developed many different programs ranging from step-by-step procedures to complex manuals, charts and software. The quality program may take the name of Six Sigma, TQM, quality assurance or just plan quality. Regardless of the methodology…

1 comment

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…

1 comment

Creating a High Performance Culture with Hoshin Kanri

A high performance culture is the result of high performance actions. An organization should strive to implement actions which deliver the desired performance and assess the results of these actions on the culture. If these actions are successful, performance targets are achieved and a high-performance culture ensues. The pursuit of performance gains starts with defining…

5 comments

5 Six Sigma Deployment Mistakes – And How to Avoid Them

A well planned Six Sigma deployment can lead to a rewarding experience and immense benefits for an organization. On the flip side, however, a flawed deployment may lead to disappointing results – the failure of the entire deployment effort, and/or a significant waste of time and resources. There are five problems in Six Sigma deployments,…

1 comment

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…

1 comment

Achieving Breakthroughs by Using Policy Deployment

Some companies approach strategic planning in a way that lends ammunition to those who would question its purpose. Typically, during strategic planning time, executives sequester themselves in a retreat-like setting armed with sales and market projections and some semblance of customer input. The output of this event is a nice, bound presentation that sits on…

3 comments

Managing for Results Using a Lean Six Sigma Strategy – A Conversation with… Nick Brownrigg, Chief Executive Officer of Masterlease

In a conversation with iSixSigma, Nick Brownrigg, the chief executive officer of Masterlease Group, offers his views on managing for results through Lean Six Sigma and Line-of-Sight™ strategy deployment. iSixSigma: Tell us about your business and the competitive challenges you face? Mr. Brownrigg: We provide full vehicle leasing services to businesses and public sector organizations…

The Futility of Call Center Coaching

One-agent-at-a-time coaching is the go-to method in call centers for trying to improve center-wide output measures. But it is less valuable than many believe. Through the use of mathematical modeling and simulation, it is possible to see that coaching, even in moderate turnover environments, does not offer a return on investment (ROI). More-effective improvement strategies…

5 comments

The Initial Focus – Strategy or Projects?

Organizations often have a strategy and process improvement program in place, but eventually start seeing signs of waning momentum. The organizations experience a familiar realization that it is difficult to sustain improvements. Organizations including hospitals and health systems have encountered similar challenges. It is not easy to launch a major change initiative in healthcare, and…

Aligning Six Sigma with Objectives and Strategies

In a well-managed business that has implemented Six Sigma, the organization’s objectives and strategies and continuous improvement are all closely aligned. Organizational objectives enhance the efficacy and importance of Six Sigma initiatives. And Six Sigma specialists can play an integral role in ensuring the execution of strategy. In many organizations, however, there seems to be…

Mobilizing a Business for Turning Strategy into Action

Developing a strategy is critical for any organization, and equally important is having a mechanism to translate that strategy into action. However, given the complexities of the European market, there is a special need for a business implementing its strategy to allow its local business unit leaders to adjust the tactics to local needs and…

Every Reason That HR Should Be Involved in Six Sigma

Human resource (HR) professionals who have a background or education in basic project management have a clear advantage. Being well versed in an improvement methodology, such as Six Sigma, is even a bigger plus. An HR professional who is able to present a business case with a compelling return on investment will be respected. Having…

Six Sigma Strategy: Understanding the Customer Process

Many companies which choose not to utilize Lean and Six Sigma as key components of how they implement change in their organization say it is because the methodologies are too complicated for their business environment. They claim that they do not have the time to build an infrastructure, train Black Belts and Green Belts and…

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,…

1 comment

Services Can Improve By Taking Lead from Manufacturing

Many have thought the traditional definition of quality – meeting the desired specifications of the product’s fitness for use – does not apply in the same sense in the service sector as in manufacturing. But a closer look reveals that today’s services, with a little help from technology, are similar to products in the manufacturing industry….

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….

Assessing for Lean Six Sigma Implementation and Success

Successful corporate initiatives such as Lean Six Sigma require proper planning, prioritization, resource allocation, budgeting, training, and proper review and reward mechanics. These initiatives also must consider the stability, accuracy and maturity of the core processes, measurement systems and the people they will affect. In most organizations there is a wide range of both experience…

The DoD Roundup

Editor’s note: A longer version of this article was previously published in the September/October 2009 issue of iSixSigma Magazine. When the U.S. Department of Defense opened a Continuous Process Improvement/Lean Six Sigma Program Office in October 2007, the office had no budget, no staff and, in fact, no office space. But it did have a…

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…

Bringing the Balanced Scorecard Back to Life

Some industry analysts and organizational executives have questioned the effectiveness of the balanced scorecard. The tool, introduced by Robert Kaplan and David Norton in 1992 in an article in the Harvard Business Review, is used to articulate to individual employees the organizational goals and objectives set by management. But some modern critics of the balanced…

4 comments

DoD to Focus on Four Improvement Areas During Convention

Leaders from across the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), including the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and various agencies and activities, will gather Oct. 22 to 23, 2008 in Washington, D.C., to discuss the state of the department’s Lean Six Sigma deployment. The event, named the Breakthrough Convention and produced by iSixSigma Live! is an…

Six Sigma and Business Innovation: Process or Passion?

“Innovation is something new and contrary to established customs, manners or rites.” – Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626) Passion is one thing that both innovators and innovative companies share. Innovation, by definition, runs counter to conventional wisdom. To see a new idea become a reality, an individual or company has to have enough passion to overcome…

Three Steps for Aligning Projects to Business Priorities

A company with a Six Sigma deployment identifies a process improvement area within the business. It is easy to figure out what comes next – just define the problem, set the goal, select the project team, pick the team leader and get out of the way. Right? Well, sort of…but before deployment leaders get the project…

Eight Basics of Lean Six Sigma for Manufacturing Firms

In the efforts to draw closer to customers, many manufacturers have lost focus on what should be a company’s primary success factor – profitable growth. In today’s competitive manufacturing environment, it takes more than quick fixes, outsourcing and downsizing for companies to consistently achieve their growth and profit objectives. While these options may yield temporary financial…

Customer-Centric Risk Management Via Hoshin Planning

The new millennium brought a great deal of change in the marketplace. As the financial scandals of the 1990s came to light, new regulations were drafted and put into place to avoid such occurrences in the future. U.S. financial institutions must comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which came on the heels of the Enron scandal,…

Business Improvement Strategy, Masteries and Metrics

Many organizations that deploy Lean and Six Sigma eventually hit what is referred to as the “performance measurement wall.” These organizations begin with the right intentions, however, the bottom-line results from their Lean and Six Sigma initiatives are often illusionary because they are focused on the wrong targets. One of the major reasons for this…

2 comments

Up Close with J.D. Sicilia

In an interview with iSixSigma, J.D. Sicilia, director of the Department of Defense Lean Six Sigma Program Office, shares about the purpose of the office, his deployment strategy and how the office will interact with the services.

Aligning Six Sigma with Organizational Strategies

Demonstrating clear alignment between Six Sigma projects and a healthcare organization’s strategic imperatives, vision or mission has been an elusive exercise for many organizations. Judging from a random sampling of web sites and hospital lobbies, most mission statements represent variations on a theme and relate to common issues such as clinical quality, cost management, service…