Making it stick

Six Sigma – iSixSigma Forums Old Forums General Making it stick

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    A quandary I could use your help with:
    The organization I’m with here is starting out on the Continual-Improvement path. It’s running short and intense projects focused at specific problem areas of the operation.
    The issue I’m seeing is that although at the end of each project, people leave full of enthusiasm and energy for the solution which has been generated (and most often piloted too), during the week that follow the project, and during the difficult time when the change is being permanently put into place, there is not enough commitment and close-monitoring of the situation to make success more probable .
    I would love to be able to give to the project-leaders some form of check sheet or instruction which would make the sustaining of gains more likely to be successful.
    Any thoughts or experiences appreciated.



    Hi Lorax,
    Not sure if you are using DMAIC for the improvement projects – if not, it would be a good idea.
    Reason is that you seem to be getting the teams to midway the I – Improve stage. This pilots and verifies that solutions should work. (Looks like you’ve done this). The bits that look as though they may be missing would be to get Mgt sponsor/support for the solutions, with realistic target dates for full implementation, taking into account things that we know management are held accountable for (e.g. month end results etc). Some typical checks for the completion of Improve stage:
    1. Has action plan been prepared with target dates and owners?
    2. Have solutions been verified through piloting/testing
    3. Do results of piloting suggest results can be achieved?
    4. Does Mgt Sponsor/support the solutions. (Not just agreement)
    5. Have refinements been made following piloting?
    6. Have any negative/unexpected results been considered and addressed?
    When all the above are ticked (we need to be quite anal about ticking these!!)…..
    ……..The final stage is then to Control. This would typically include standardising the solution, establishing control mechanisms (that can continually check improving trend, issues etc e.g. new KPIs) and most importantly, deploying the solution into the culture. Normally, this is the tough part – needs change management skills on the part of the team leader.
    Guess in short, what I’m suggesting is that the projects are not finished until the Control stage has been satisfactorily completed.
    Does this help, or are you looking for something else?
    Best regards
    Davy T


    Marlon Brando

    Before  intiating  SS ,you  need  first  to activate  a  general Change  Mangement Program??



    IMHO most of the challenge is with the transition from the project team to the process owner and the operators. Project managers like to think the project is complete when the solution has been found, piloted and turned-over to the process group/owner. Not the case. The project should be considered open for days/weeks after the solution has been implemented to ensure the change management pieces have become routine. Leadership too, should realize this and allow projects to include a longer post-implementation phase (Control).
    Process owners and operators are no different than many (most?) of us. At times, we become comfortable with what we know and we become comfortable with a routine. The existing routine has to be broken, the new process established, the new process repeated/tweaked, repeated/tweaked, repeated, and repeated before it becomes the new routine.
    Also, sometimes, “short and intense” projects blow by proper communication to all the participants. Everyone needs to know what is in it for them and why the change is necessary. It is especially important for the process owners as they are the ones who inherit/live with the changes. Project managers/project teams can have the mind set that they are doing the process owner a favor. Reality? The process owner may not directly realize the benefits of the changes but they directly experience the temporary inefficiencies.
     Good Luck! OLD



    Regarding “Making It Stick”:  I have been working in process and quality improvement for quite a few years. I have experienced successes in making improvement stick, as well as a few less-than-fully-successful efforts. In my experiences with Six Sigma (and Lean, TQM,  simple PDCA, et. al.), it has not been the “technical” side of the effort that is most prone to failure, or even the project management side of projects.  It is the People side. 
    The People Side of Six Sigma success requires effective change management  (change leadership), preferrably practiced throughout the project.  If change management is practiced throughout, then the “Control” phase tends to be very simple.  Unfortunately, most Six Sigma training gives very little attention to the tools and techniques of effective change management / change leadership.
    I highly recommend that all Six Sigma Master Black Belts, Black Belts, Green Belts, Champions, etc. (and Lean Masters, TQM practitioners, and all of our other process improvement kin) immerse themselves in the better information out there about change management / change leadership.
    Several books by John Kotter are very good  (including Leading Change, The Heart of Change, and The Heart of Change Field Guide.).
    Additionally, the Change Management Leadership Center ( has some terrific information, including its highly-informative (and free!) webinar series.  There are some good (and free!) on-line tutorials about change management, too (
    Hope this is helpful!



    I can’t add much to the posts already listed – the people/change management needs are a must.
    One addition I have had to implement during the improvement stage is Poka Yoke.  When you have people-intense systems such as healthcare, and make a process change, it is sometimes necessary to look into your systems to ensure that the process can’t be done the old way (not just by monitoring, but through system design). 
    For instance, say you change a process that removes a particular inventory item that could be used.  The use of that item may have caused quality issues or simply be too costly relative to other alternatives.  After making the process change and getting employee buy-in, you make the item unavailable so they can’t use it even if they wanted to. 
    Just an example, but this can be done in other improvement areas as well.  Doesn’t work all the time, but striving for defect proofing the system should be part of the improve and control process.  Dealing with the people and the system simultaneously often proves effective.


    Marlon Brando

    Thank You for  supporting  my  pont  of  view….



    Thanks folks.

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