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Burned Out Belts – What do we do with them?

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  • #31175

    john beaudoin
    Participant

    We have about 40 Greenbelts at our facility that our team is responsible for.  Some of them went through the training, but realized they either had no interest in writing up projects (Everyone likes to make a decision and implement something without going through the trouble of using the tools and presentation slides) or they just don’t have the time to work on a legitamate 6-Sigma project.  What is everyone else doing with these individuals?

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    #82031

    Whitehurst
    Participant

    John,
              The company I used to work for demanded that if you received the training you produced results. It became part of our yearly objectives, that you had to complete two Green Belt projects, so if you didn’t meet your objectives your annual review stunk. The first couple of years the training wasn’t mandatory, however come the third year it was mandatory to be Green Belt trained. The folks that didn’t step up, stepped out.

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    #82033

    john beaudoin
    Participant

    Thanks Joe,
    We had the same goals, but found that individual managers did not always feel that the 6-Sigma emphasis was as important as some other initiatives they had their resorces focus on during the year when came time to give a performance review.
    We certify our Greenbelts with certificates upon completing their first project, when the indivuals at your company stepped out, were the certificates pulled from these individuals as well?  Is there a good way to ask some to step out?  Can you call these individuals Yellow belts and only use them when data needs to be specifically gathered, etc.  One problem we have is from a planning standpoint, because we need to forecast number of projects and dollar savings and these goals are often based on number of Greenbelts, Blackbelts, etc.

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    #82034

    pokeyoke
    Participant

    I think it is critical to have the GB projects address process improvements for which the GBs are already responsible.  This should reduce the issue of overloading, since the training is just providing them with tools to be more successful with their current projects.  GBs should appreciate the training and support more if it helps them improve processes for which they are already responsible, which is how I view the real value of a GB network.
    Regarding the more formal process and documentation, you have to be careful and make sure the documentation and reporting is not just for the sake of the documentation and reporting.  Many GBs, if they are the process experts they should be, will be able to find “quick wins” and ground fruit that should not require a lot of extra meetings or documentation.  Of course, the more complicated improvements and process failures will require the Six Sigma tools and procedures in order to truly achieve signficant results.  This may be a fine line that requires competent management and oversight, rather than a set of hard and fast rules.
     
    Poke

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    #82035

    Mikel
    Member

    I personally would fire the management they report to for not making clear what the job and the priorities are.

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    #82037

    TC
    Member

    John,
    I believe that is is common to many businesses that pursue SS.  In our organization, many individuals go through BB / GB training, yet very few even get through the certification process.  In our organization we have found several X’s that contribute to full utilization:
    1. Lack of management support (in some areas).
    2. Lack of time to actually do projects.
    3. Individuals are not dedicated to SS activities.  It becomes a lower priority when they are busy being reactive, instead of proactive.
    4.  Expectations are not clearly defined for practioners in regards to what is required of projects.
    5.  Some managers put individuals through the training for exposure instead of expecting results.
    It becomes more frustrating when I see this when conducting GB training.  I can tell who will succeed and who will require further development if they are to finish their training project. I would suggest reevaluating the selection criteria and how GB’s are utilized within your organization.  If anyone is to blame, it isn’t the GB. It’s the implementation by Mgmt.
    Select the best, train them well, give them the time, jointly establish goals and timelines, support them, motivate them, and reward them.   Punitive actions only hurt the morale and will make further implementations of SS less successful.

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    #82042

    john beaudoin
    Participant

    I agree with you 100% and we’ve tried this.  The fact we have to face is that there are performance goals set on projects completed and dollars saved.  These can’t count unless Finance/Management sign off on the savings and we need this minimum documentation to meet our goals.
    What happens is that individuals implement stuff daily, some requiring significant investiment, but they don’t want to do the minimum to capture anything to have signed off.  These few individuals love to make decisions and improvements, but don’t care that any savings is verified other than hoping their departmental performance numbers improve.  This may be OK for the company as it strives for continuous improvement, but it does not verify that the savings is sustainable or that it is even real.  Feedback from these individuals is that they don’t wish to do any 6-Sigma projects, with the result that they are not operating any different from a non-6-Sigma company.
    We have others that align well, and continue to perform admirably with 6-Sigma.  My basic question is do we drag the others kicking and screaming, or is there a good way to cut the rope on these individuals and move on.  Better yet, is there a way to change their thinking?

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    #82044

    pokeyoke
    Participant

    It sounds like you are on the right track, and I agree with Stan that maybe these individuals or their managers need to be the focus of some “change management”.  I would try to get their buy-in and change their thinking before causing “PR” issues for your group by “cutting them loose”.  I think this stems from the ongoing challenge we all face of getting real commitment from Champions as we work to implement significant improvements with real, documented results.
     
    Poke

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    #82048

    Opey
    Participant

    My company is like yours.  We have a slew of trained GBs, some with the energy and talent to complete their certification projects, and others who gradly wait till we forget they were even trained.
    I agree in spirit with Stan, that this was a management failure, but I don’t agree that it necessarily warrants firing.
    My thought is, Why must GBs manage projects?  A SS project is a complex thing, and for the few GBs who can actually do this task well, why not make them BBs?  I always thought BBs should manage projects, and GBs should assist BBs.  Requiring GBs to do a crucial part of a BB’s job doesn’t make sense to me, especially since it is one of the greatest challenges for any BB to manage a successful project.

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    #82051

    Heebeegeebee BB
    Participant

    uh-uh,
    IMHO, it’e the BB’s who support the GB’s.   We are here to support, mentor and help the GB’s with their projo’s.   GB’s are the “grass-roots” of the organization…the front-line troops…the folks who actually do the required work and produce/provide goods/services.   As BB’s/MBB’s we are there as a resource…a goto source of help.   It should be the GB projects which make a crucial difference to the organization.   Sure we BB’s/MBB’s will conduct our own higher-level projects, but rest assured, the GB’s projects will/should have signifigant impact to the bottom line.
    my $0.02
    -Heebee

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    #82066

    Opey
    Participant

    Fair enough.
    At our plant, we have an excess of BBs, so that working exlcusively on higher-level projects and mentoring is not cost-effective.  And so, in my opinion, it isn’t cost-effective to develop a bunch more GBs with project management skills.  There’s not many people left to work the projects, and it just seems to me that we don’t need so many people with the ability to manage projects.

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    #82082

    BobJim
    Participant

    If you view 6S training as just project management training, then I agree, it probably isn’t cost effective to have a bunch of GB and BB running around looking for projects to manage. However, In my opinion the project management skills one learns from 6S training are secondary to the critical thought, analytical skills, and quality mindset the training tends to provide. I’d love to have a whole team of GB trained people, even if they never actually do a DMAIC project. I believe the skills are very beneficial in just about every kind of job because it makes people think in terms of continuous improvement, and that’s what 6S is all about.

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    #82112

    Elizabeth C. Marsh
    Participant

    Briefly how it works in my organisation:  If people do not complete a single project post training they do not achieve certification.  This impacts on the trainee as future promotions are dependant on a six sigma qualification.  It also impacts online management via a performance metric of GB yield (% trained who become certified).  After certification an ongoing involvement in six sigma is requred (tracked via the annual review process), this can be doing additional projects, taking part in a BB project or defining projects for others.  Ultimately the aim is to make six sigma the way we work, so that projects are no longer required.  However we are far from that and clearly defined expectations are necessary to maintain momentum.
    Agree with the comments about failure to complete projects often resulting from a management failure.  I have done a six sigma project to analyse the causes of certification problems for our GB and the key factor was line management support.  We are tacking this via GB training and certification for managers, a flowdown process to identify projects with PO buy in and setting annual goals.  Still have a way to go, and it’s been a struggle along the way, but are starting to see results.

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    #82113

    Eoin Barry
    Participant

    John – It seems to me that  your problem statement is not that you have people who are unwilling to make improvements – but more that they are unable to document and capitalise on the changes. Not so unusual. Try a simplified project score card – an I mean real simple. Provide a resource to mentor, in the form of a black belt to do a little hand holding with the GB’s and to help them fill it in. They will need to be a pro though ’cause it may take a little tact.  
    Commmunicate, communicate, communicate.. successes, project status, certifications, $$ savings –  loudly and visibly to the whole company. In every communication six sigma needs to be mentioned. Your senior leadership group plant manager or coporate champion have to demonstrate commitment by taking an interest in not just the program but in the indivduals at the coal face, the ground troops i.e. the green belts and BB’s.
    You can’t fire the whole lot of them and I would be very, very careful about even sacking even one in the name of SS. People are generally good and they want to make a difference – and are usually documentation shy, they also want to be recognised.
    I know what I’m suggesting may sound a little lame but don’t underestimate the fear of change and individuals aversion to documenting their actions.
    Best of luck, Eoin
      
     

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    #82117

    Tuell
    Participant

    At my previous employer, all new engineers now receive at a minimum the GB training and much of the BB training.   In order to be certified, you must complete specific demonstrations of skills.   No demo, no certification.   

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    #82129

    Rambo
    Participant

    Hello John,
    I have the same problem at start but these are the things i had done to make them more productive and useful.
    1. Conduct regular meetings.
    2. Report to Management the results.
    3. Recognition for every achievement.
    That’s all.
     

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    #82136

    Frank B.
    Participant

    I am just curious whether you ever get into a bottleneck waiting for all of these projects to get reviewed by accounting / finance.  Do you have dedicated “money belts”, or how does that work at your company?

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    #82224

    Eduardo Gomez
    Participant

    I think there are some things you can do:
    1) Mark as an objective the execution of projects.
    2) Give some kind of recognition  for successful projects
    3) Link a successful record of projects with promotions, rewards or salary increases.
    4) Get commitment from Owners to be sure that GB’s will have enough time to execute projects.
    5) Finally, be sure that everybody has a problem to solve or a goal to reach using six sigma. This can help to sell the use of six sigma.
    Regards.
     
     
     
     

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    #82225

    Tuell
    Participant

    Well said Eduardo. That is exactly what people should do. The tough part comes in the execution, because it’s hard to change the processes (and people) that run the business.
    I really like your suggestions.
    Barb

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    #82227

    billybob
    Participant

    Hello folks,
    What to do with burned out blackbelts?  Ever heard of fish bait?
    The question is..Why does California have so many black belts and New Jersy have so many toxic waste dumps?  Thats a simple question..The answer is; because New Jersy had first choice.
    Later,
    Billybob

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    #82243

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    John,
    You are a good BB (assumption based on your responses). GB failure (Y’s) is a function of what (x’s)? Remember Y=(f)x. Your failure is a business issue. The cause is in the independent variables around the Y.
    If you make assumptions about why they are doing what they are doing you will never actually know what happened and will be instituting corrective action without data just like they are.
    I’m not sure how to make this complex but I would go ask them why they are doing what they are doing.
    This is why understanding Change Management is critical to implementing a SS program. The stats side is relatively easy. It is the change portion that is complex. That is probabaly why we have so many problems at implementation. GE had the Change Acceleration Process in place long before they did SS. They understood how to implement change in the GE culture.
    Root cause analysis. Did training fail or did implementation fail?
    Good luck.

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    #82248

    Brien Liebst
    Participant

    Some people respond to pleasure -the satisfaction of producing a worthwhile project; respect from one’s peers; the ability to advance – other people respond to the prospect of pain and consequently work to avoid the hurt.  For this approach you might take a hint from the old saw of the woman who went to the dentist for a root canal but was terrified of pain.  Her solution was, as the dentist bent over her with the drill, to slip her hand between his legs and very gently but firmly affix her hand arround his most tender spot and looking up through big blue eyes say “Now, we’re not going to hurt each other — are we doctor?!” For those who can’t bring themselves to even attempt to try, the remedy may be temporary assignments in unloading trucks, stripping paint, etc., interspersed with positive incentives to return to the land of the living.  Even at that, there are those who will lay their body down and sleep with their fathers without sullying their pristine gray matter with anything so plebeian as a thought!

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    #82249

    Hemanth
    Participant

    Hi
    I agree with BobJim..its good to have as many people with an understanding of methodology and tools with you..this is what I feel more the number of trained GB’s, faster the spreading of initiative.
    hope this helps
     

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    #82255

    john beaudoin
    Participant

    No dedicated “moneybelts”.  Actually, I’ve never heard the term used before, but I like it.  Note it is hard to have a bottleneck when you only have 2-3 projects closed each month at a facility and the Finance Manager assigned is who signs off on them.

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    #82256

    john beaudoin
    Participant

    I agree.  I’m also studying to get my PMP (Project Management Professionals) Certification, and the tools taught in 6-Sigma cover 5% of the things Project Managers need to know.  That is one of the drawbacks of implementation problems that 6-Sigma belts experience is that they don’t get the skills to manage meetings, influence groups, measure risk in contracts, and follow work breakdown structures, Gantt charts, etc.  Not all projects require this kind of expertise, but I just wanted to make the point that management should not view all belts as project managers.

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    #82258

    john beaudoin
    Participant

    We don’t want to sack anyone.  We also offer to put all of the slides/analysis for individuals together as well, so they do not have to do this on their own.  One problem is that our department has no direct reports.  We “manage” approved 6-Sigma projects, but individuals report first to their management.  Management is the big issue, I agree, as it is their responsibility to make 6-Sigma important to their work force.  Some may have sent individuals to training just to say they have followed a mandate to train x number of employees in their area.  Some selections were very good, and others not so good.
    Decertifying individuals has disadvantages, and we have those that have been at it for a couple of years and have not yet been certified.  We do provide incentives of cash, certificates, etc., but only for the first certification project.
    Promotions aren’t a big loss at our facility, as the opportunity is very small unless individuals wish to relocate out of state.
    I think the problem lies more in the culture, how people are used to managing their business in that they resort to the old ways after receiving training.  I think some get intimidated by the statistical tools they learn, and shy away from the things they are not comfortable with.  Most of our employees are not math experts and operate in the transactional world.
    I think all of our organizations have experience this to some extent, and wondered if this problem has been successfully eliminated and how at other locations.

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    #82259

    john beaudoin
    Participant

    Eduardo,
    1) We have objectives to execture projects.
    2) We give $200 for completion of first project for certification, and a framed certificate.
    3) We put 6-Sigma goals on annual review and tie salary increases to it based on performance (although the weighting varies)
    4) Managers tell us they will get time and then renig.
    5) Everyone has problems to solve, but some will move forward without using the tools.
    Still not working here – Does it work at your location?

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    #82260

    john beaudoin
    Participant

    In other words, Mike, we’re screwed….
    Fact is we have some useful belts and get projects, some major ones, completed.  To that extent we have a success in training.
    Other fact is we’ve tried various ways to motivate individuals to use the tools and the fact is it is just too hard for them, no matter how we want to handhold them.  Sending them to training was a better decision then not sending them at all, but after they learned what 6-Sigma was about, I feel some were intimidated by the tools and work that goes into the projects.  We are a transactional environment and I thing that some would rather make improvements as they did before 6-Sigma.  You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.
    Now that we both know it is a management issue, and that the amount of influence our department has is not absolute, we either need to be shrewd negotiators to instigate management change or the alternate hypothesis, we’re at status quo, is true.

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    #82387

    Eduardo Gomez
    Participant

    What I think it’s necessary to success with 6 sigma is a cultural change. This means that top managers have to guide the business based on 6 sigma objectives and goals like Z, vital X, ppm’s and others.If you don’t manage based on six sigma terms, then it will be very difficult to involve people in six sigma.

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    #82388

    john beaudoin
    Participant

    I think everyone agrees with that.  In the optimal 6-Sigma environment, if you have full management support and your company is all for projects, etc., If you have some trained employees as Greenbelts/Blackbelts/etc. and they really get tired of the project slides, don’t enjoy the statistical analysis, and would prefer to just do their regular job, What would you let them do?
    1) This person does not fit your very pro-6-Sigma culture that you have cultivated and suggest they find a company that wants nothing to do with 6-Sigma to work for.
    2) Allow them to turn in their belt and go back to producing widgets, documents, or talking to customers with or without a loss in salary since they may not be adding as much value to the company.
    3) Force them to stay focussed and tell them the more they work with it the more they will enjoy their job and discipline them when projects aren’t getting done.
    4) Other

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