Top Issues New LSS Belts Face

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    Joe Wojniak

    I’d love to hear your perspective on what is most challenging when first working as a LSS Belt. Whether you are new or a seasoned professional, it’d be great to see if there’s a trend that suggests a topic area.

    • This topic was modified 3 years, 5 months ago by Joe Wojniak.

    Martin K. Hutchison

    1) Having managers above you who have no clue how to use or manage you. You will find managers who want to “project manage” you to the point that artificial deadlines and tangible targets become your driving factor, not improvement (chase $$/year in a non-bottleneck process, or in a process that itself is compensation for an upstream problem that really needs solving). For example, you may have a $$ value and deadline imposed before the “D” in DMAIC is fully defined, and so you still won’t know what the real root cause of some set of pain points are.

    2) You may find that you cannot measure the problem effectively due to poor/missing data collection. Managers seeking an ROI on you may not have patience for you to fix that, or they may have bonuses based on those lousy numbers and don’t want the “game” unravelled.

    3) You may be placed too low on the totem pole, on purpose or on accident, to solve the real problems. You may be pushed to make shadow boards for a process that could instead be eliminated, for example. Or you may need to solve a cross functional problem but your manager is in a pissing contest with the manager of that other function.

    4) Survivor Island mentality. You may try to solve a problem in the domain of someone who sees you as a threat. The competent, particularly those who do not own a function, are often voted off the island.



    The biggest challenge is changing company culture. Even in many companies that went big-time with LSS we often had to wonder whether or not they really got it. For example, requiring us to commit to improvement goals and deadlines before Measurement, because we had to sell the project before we could get approval to even begin understanding the problem.



    Martin hit it right on the head. And add these:

    1) Preconceived ideas of what lean six sigma is or should be then trying to make you/your data fit that ideal. I’ve had it both as an external consultant and as an internal asset. Management/corporate positions cherry pick the parts they want versus understanding all that is required wanting an immediate bottom line result in a month instead of allowing the time a project really needs to complete, especially if it is a company transforming project.

    2) Working in at least a partial vacuum. Simply put there is no internal network to leverage as a belt. The company in general has no understanding of the belt concept or how to support it. The perception then becomes “you are taking over”. Unless the additional time is allowed to spend educating on lean six sigma concepts you become a perceived threat to multiple positional authorities in the company.


    Scott Thor

    Many of the issues we face are self-inflicted such as over complicating LSS and focusing too much on the LSS tools instead of seeking ways to simplify process improvement and minimize complex tool usage. No one is looking for more complexity in their work life, and all too often we make LSS overly complicated. The other opportunity is for us to focus not on LSS, but on the problems, issues, challenges, etc. leaders are having and use LSS to minimize them.

    I haven’t met many leaders that care directly about LSS, but I have met many who care about their goals, problems, etc. and if we can focus on what they care about and use LSS to help them it will go a long way in helping them embrace process improvement.

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