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Who Certifies the SS Deployment at the Client?

Six Sigma – iSixSigma Forums Old Forums General Who Certifies the SS Deployment at the Client?

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  • #42450

    concernedcitizen
    Participant

    Say for example:  123 Banking Corp.  is 3 years into their 6S program.  They started out using some consultants from ABC Lean Sigma Group who conducted GB and BB training, assisted with project selection and certification, etc, etc.  ABC stuck around for a couple of years and got it off the ground.  Meanwhile 123 Mfg has decided to stand up their own internal quality teams/departments and they now their own MBBs/BBs/GBs and are now executing their own projects, etc, etc.
    Question:  Do certification body(s) or organizations/companys exist to put their stamp of approval on this program (not the individual MBBs/BBs or projects but the whole endeavor).  Obviously ABC Lean Sigma Group would probably say that their deployment is ‘good enough.’  But who else can independantly audit this program and provide some objectivity and certification that the program is robust/meaningful/sustainable and ‘in control’? 
    Note: I found a couple of previous threads that were somewhat related to this topic but in those cases the responses quickly strayed from the original topic/question or they were dated back in 2003 so I’m wondering if there have been any recent changes in the industry along these lines. 

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    #134001

    Ken Feldman
    Participant

    No.  If, over time, 123 Banking Corp. continues to deploy SS, can show success and their internally certified Belts move out into the marketplace and are successful there, then 1123 Banking Corp. will get a “reputation” as a successful SS deployment.  There is no universally accepted unbiased organization for auditing and certifying a SS deployment.  Actions and outcomes will speak louder than any words or audits.  Unless you really need this independent audit then I am sure there are a few groups on this Forum that would be glad to do it for you for a modest sum…..or immodest sum as it may be.

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    #134002

    Dr Htrad
    Participant

    So, Darth!  Would you or would you not consider Bank of America’s deployment a success?  From where I sit (I have seen lot’s of folks leave my company, go to the bank, get frusturated and leave within a year) they seem to be failing….SS is not “sticking”.  I heard the Q&P org is all but gone?  What do you know?

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    #134004

    Ken Feldman
    Participant

    You pretty much summed it up as far as I can tell.  Let’s just say it appears to be morphing into something less than it was before.  There is obviously still something going on and maybe by some people’s definition it is alive and well and successful.  Given what you are seeing with your friends, I guess that wouldn’t be how you describe it.  My former group is down by 50%.  Here is the kicker, there is now a Q&P organization along with a senior executive for the Q&P organization headed up by the guy who was instrumental in my untimely departure.  They now have a chief inspector to inspect the chief inspectors…gotta love it.  BOA will make a nice case study in deployment some time in the future.

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    #134005

    Dr Htrad
    Participant

    Let me get this right – Q&P has a Q&P?  Most of my colleagues went to training group or Asset Mgmt – heard asset mgmt was a joke and gave it lip service at best.  Is that Milton guy still in charge?

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    #134070

    Stevo
    Member

    Bank of America’s Six Sigma’s program is doing fine.  There are a lot of very good people that are doing great things (no, I’m not one of them).  
     
    Did we hire a lot of people that did not work out for various reasons?  Yes.  Most could not adjust to the culture or just did not have results.  There were a few very good associates that left and we are none the better because of it, but those are few and far between.
     
    Now, I happen to like Darth, never met him in person, but I at least respect his “on-line” personality and knowledge.  However getting his advice on the whole Bank of America situation comes with its own built in bias.
     
    Darth used to be one of BofA’s biggest supporters, then he was gone (don’t know or care about the circumstances) and he’s been a little bitter since (my opinion).
     
    So, my advise to you; Take what Darth says with a grain of salt, he has his experience to speak of and I’m not discounting that in the least.  But get more “voice” when making a decision.
     
    Enjoying my time at BofA,
     
    Stevo

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    #134082

    Ken Feldman
    Participant

    1.  Yes, Q&P has it’s own Q&P.  I haven’t talked to anyone at the Bank that can say this without a chuckle and a shake of the head.
    2.  Milton is still in charge.
    3.  Don’t know about the Asset Mgt. group but do know the training group has had some challenges.  Good people but rotating leadership and the presence of the Evil Princess has caused considerable unhappiness and numerous departures.
    4.  You saw Stevo’s post and he is obviously happy.  You have the opinions and experiences of your friends so rely more on them than on me.
    5.  Even when I was at GE, there were pockets of resistance and lip service so any big deployment will likely have the same.
    6.  I do disagree with Stevo on whether the large number of Q&P people who were dismissed were primarily displaced due to incompetence or failure to “fit in”.  Since one of the intentions of SS is to “change the culture”, fitting into the culture does nothing for change only perpetuation of the old.  Putting 25+ year veterans in charge of change is inconsistent with “thinking and doing things differently”.  I agree that there are some good people still there and pockets of successful implementation.
    7.  Stevo, being a supporter and finding out that things weren’t quite what they seemed is sufficient reason to go from supporter to dissenter.  Lots of that going on in Congress about Iraq.  Any bitterness quickly left with the nice severance package, the new job within 2 weeks and being in a much happier position now then I was then.

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    #134083

    BoA MBB
    Participant

    My personal belief is that there are pockets of very good work being done…but there is less communication between teams or the continuing issue of business leaders who don’t know how to effectively use the Q&P resource (or be coached effectively on how to use the resource).  However, at the end of the day, it’s shared accountability either way.
    Recent organizational changes inside Q&P have brought in business leaders to run Q&P.  Pros and Cons?  Pro because there have been several incompetent Q&P leaders who never understood the business.  Con because some of these new leaders have no significant training in Q&P.  You’d think they could find a balance between the two, but the pendulum continues to swing.
    Q&P for Q&P?  Unfortunately, as ridiculous as it sounds, it’s probably needed…(if used correctly that is).  How else can folks who have attained MBB status on an internal fast-track be kept in check?  Some have only completed their GB project and coached a few more before being annointed with book knowledge and too little practical application.  “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
    The challenges are many, as they have been for most deployments that I’ve seen, been a part of, read about, or discussed with fellow peers.  Variation has been increasing in the BoA organization.  Whether some folks in the right positions will be able to diagnose root cause and take corrective action remains to be seen.  I’ll be doing what I can do, as I think most people in this forum do each day.

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    #134084

    Ken Feldman
    Participant

    Thanks for the inside insight and update.  Sure wish there were more like you.

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    #134087

    NATZIC
    Participant

    Why are you so concerned about SS Deployment Certification. My main concern would be the satisfaction level of the leadership team and the shareholders. Has the program delivered what it was meant to and are the leadership team still committed

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    #134091

    BoA MBB2
    Participant

    BoA MBB – I agree 100%. You hit every issue square on the head. Q&P better Q&P Q&P fast!

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    #134092

    question man
    Participant

    Perplexed as to why the loow people with basic GB skills to be certified as MBB’s?  I work for GE and a BOA “MBB” interviewed with us recently…tp put it mildly, our new BB’s on the interview panel saw right thru this person – no practical application.  I often hear of full time LOB employee’s “working on their black belt”.  Odd concept that they can hold down a full time job and be an MBB?

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    #134095

    BoA MBB
    Participant

    Question Man,
    It is my belief that poor process and oversight were the root causes of the failure that you saw in your interview.  Most dedicated BB and MBB roles within BoA are purely coaching roles.  A couple of potential problems with this approach, in my opinion:
    1) Good coaches were not always good players, and vice versa.  Coaches can craft a gameplan and see an overall direction and tempo in a game, but rarely have the chance to practice the skills.  Coaches without significant player experience will top out quickly, and eventually their coaching will fall short.  Sometimes with startling consequences (think regression analysis on likert scale data because the likert scale uses numbers…).
    2) Coaching is one of the most critical components to early stage deployment of a SS program, but mid-stage deployments (as I would characterize BofA SS) require a different skill set.  More on this in a moment.
    3) Coaches don’t always select the team that plays for them…the front office often interferes, and I think this occurred in select cases within the BoA program.
    To respond to your question related to LOB employees “working on their black belt”, I tend to believe that it is a failure of SS deployments to adapt to the needs of their paying Customer.  Having coached several LOB individuals to BB completion, both they and I have also had candid discussions on their capability as a BB.  All recognize they aren’t truly a “BB”.  However, in the absense of any additional type of “certification” what else can they do?  They know the skillsets are important, they know they won’t use them all that often, but they also need to know how to use their Q&P resources effectively and that requires a degree of sophistication in the tools that GB just can’t teach.  So call them a BBB (business black belt), or something else to distinguish them from the pack…but the issue of LOB BBs is a symptom and not the problem.
    Now, to expand on point #2 related to deployments.  I’ve come to believe that mid-stage transactional deployments need strong SS fundamentals coupled with solid business acumen.  The easy pick projects are done, and the infamous “critical mass” has been achieved (or close enough).  The business acumen is required to frame the business problems at hand,  and while the early SS success has taught some fundamentals it is now time to put those fundamentals into daily practice…think understanding root causes of variation and process behavior (while most early GBs think defect reduction).  This tiese in nicely to my comments above about the BBB – blended skillsets of business acument and SS.  Lastly, the late stage deployments require higher levels of SS sophistication coupled with strategic business acumen that can also execute.  While this may be coupled into a single resource, it is most often the dance we do with our business partners…let’s face it, there is no way I’ll replace 20 years of banking experience with 4 years of SS in banking experience.  However, the synergies that can be made can be tremendous, pushing project and process improvements into shorter completion times and higher benefit.
    Anyway, this is way too long winded and for that I apologize.

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    #134096

    BoA MBB
    Participant

    Darth,
    Appreciate the comment.  Some people just haven’t gotten a fair shake within the Bank.  I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly…and been on the receiving end of all of the above as well!  I’m glad you landed well and are enjoying where you are.

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    #134109

    Ken Feldman
    Participant

    BOA MBB,
    Another great post.  Would like to chat offline if you can.  Contact me at [email protected]
     

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    #134122

    Maxitab
    Participant

    While I rarely publicly agree (as public as an anonymous public forum requires anyway) with space bound black clad artificially voiced rasping marginally well educated via semi-rigorous interdisciplinary programs, whose committees were headed by artificially preserved legends in the quality field who might or might not have fathered TQM, hulking techno-nerds, I do agree with Darth on this one.  
     
    Your posting showed an understanding of and sensitivity to the changing skill sets and abilities required as deployments progress evolving from a primary reliance upon knowledge of and abilities with technical problem solving skills to that of business acumen playing an increasingly important role.  Needs evolve yet many individuals can’t, don’t or won’t.    
     
    Gunslingers tamed the Wild West yet those fearsome and highly skilled desperados were easily pushed aside by the rule of law and its administrators once the west was readied for that evolutionary step.   That’s what’s so great about this forum, seeing the many stages of individual and organizational development and commitment communicating and searching for baseline understanding when benchmarking, asking for advice, offering hard won knowledge, and/or lobbing grenades – plus all of the cool graphics and news items of course.

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    #134124

    concernedcitizen
    Participant

    Pat, Thanks for getting back on topic here.  I’m not “concerned” about it but I sit on two boards and recently some other members have inquired about some certification or verification that their investment in Six Sigma is meeting a standard.  Sure the external consultants will assure them that the program is working as can the CFO and COOs in some cases.  However from a shareholders perspective there seems to be some interest in having the programs audited to ensure that our consultancy is providing the maximum benefit to the business.  They seem to be looking for something to hang on their wall. 

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    #134125

    Ken Feldman
    Participant

    Maxitab,
    Hate to break it to ya but I didn’t write that post, believe it or not.  Guess that there is another highly intelligent, insightful and well spoken BOA MBB out there who is able to express himself in the English language.  The giveaway should have been the sensitivity part.  I lost that in the great battle on the volcanic planet.  I agree with what he has written but believe he gives way too much credit to the thought process of leadership.  I don’t believe for a minute that the thought process for change was as he described it… in the perfect world yes, but not in this case.  And here is a picture of me in the earlier years to make you feel better.

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    #134128

    Adam L Bowden
    Participant

    Certification also has a couple of other twists …
    Deployments go through a maturity cycle as products do.  One early way of showing benefit vs investment is via a financial, customer sat etc scorecard.  The problem arrises when the SS deployment becomes mature is that people use the tools subconciously rather than conciously and thus the savings numbers look as if they are dwindling – the reality is usually the reverse – there is greater benefit – it is not being reported on.
    If your deployment is going well then you should have “full time” black belts that yield at least $1m per year in benefit.
    One other measure would be from a “strategic deployment” and project portfolio perspective – what is the ratio of tactical Vs strategic projects being worked by the SS teams. As the program matures, and Leadership are pleased with the results, then more strategic projects get worked.
    Just my 2c worth.
    Regards,
    Adam
     
     
     

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    #134129

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    CC,
    Have the program audited.
    Our results for last year were audited twice by very large and reputable firms and it came back that the benefits were understated.
    You should be around 10:1 on the cost of the program.
    Just my opinion.
    Good luck

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    #134130

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    CC,
    That is 10:1 on the total cost of the program not just the cost of the consultants.
    Just my opinion.
    Good luck

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    #134131

    Ken Feldman
    Participant

    As I told you in my first response there is not a universally recognized independent unbiased organization that will come in and assess and evaluate your deployment.  The best you can hope for is to find a credible consultancy who might do it and just hope that their agenda is honest and that they just won’t try to sell you on the concept of them replacing your existing consultant.

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    #134132

    concernedcitizen
    Participant

    Good points all around.  I’d like to think that at some point a reputable consultancy could offer as their product an audit that did not endeavor to replace the existing consultancy or offer to outsource the full time quality staff.  To maintain their reputation and prevent the actual/perceived conflict of interest they would need to stay out of the ‘delivery’ and stick purely to the ‘auditing’.  What’s your opinion? Is there a market for such a product that merely audits Lean/Six Sigma programs/departments/deployments, etc, etc?

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    #134134

    Ken Feldman
    Participant

    Don’t know how big the marketplace is.  One of the few things I like about ISO is that the consultancies and the accreditation agency are separate.  The same for JCAHO in healthcare.  That would be the best solution.  They can always back out when asked, “So, what should I do about all the flaws you found?  Can you help me?”  Most consultancies would find it difficult to turn away from this. 

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    #134135

    Matt K.
    Participant

    I agree that most consultancies would find it difficult to walk away from this potential revenue.  Maybe an alliance with another company or even better a few select companies would offset the conflict of interest. 
    Matt Kardovan

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    #134141

    BoA MBB
    Participant

    Thank you for the comments.
    I’d like to clarify that it is not my belief that the thought process for the leadership changes was a carefully orchestrated plan.  In my mind it remains to be seen whether the changes are good, bad, or indifferent.  The new leaders do bring a lot of business acumen, but the verdict is out on how their influence will extend the to greater Q&P organization.  In my personal view, the personnel processes within the Bank are too fundamentally flawed to get us to where we need to go. 
    Because the personnel processes are flawed, some very good Q&P people have left the Bank or (more often) joined the business line directly…often with diminished work scope and influence as they now work in the rank and file.  All the while, several Q&P leaders have layered the organizations to virtual ineffectiveness in some areas…protecting incompetent business acumen while firing the workers when results do not materialize.
    But, wouldn’t it be nice to see effective leadership processes?

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    #134143

    Ken Feldman
    Participant

    You have been so eloquent in describing the situation that some posters actually thought that you were me…….  The good news is that we are interviewing and hiring a number of folks who have bailed and are looking for a good number more. 
    Your point about the personnel/hiring process is key.  Those that claimed the large number of departees were incompetent and should have been let go raises questions about the hiring process, the management process and the competency of those who own the process.  Saying that a 20+ year veteran of the organization was let go because of non-performance makes me wonder what went on for those 20 years.  If the dozens upon dozens of SS professionals were let go for nonperformance I question the process which hired them all, promoted them, rewarded them and then decided they were no longer high performers….and I’m not talking about me.  On one hand, you can’t argue with the success of the organization but that reminds me of another successful company whose unspoken tag line was “We ain’t no worse than anybody else”.  That’s hardly justification or bragging rights.

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    #134144

    BOAMBB
    Participant

    Agreed.  Success in spite of oneself is hardly worth bragging.  I don’t believe that applies to the whole of BoA, but it does in some very critical areas….and unfortunately it has worked with some people as well.
    That tagline sounds like a domestic auto to me…too bad the domestics only compared themselves against each other!

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    #134145

    BTDT
    Participant

    Matt K.:The theory is that consulting companies (The Big 6, or however many are left now) have separated the consulting from the auditing parts of the firm. After working within one of them I was amazed at how thin the controls are. Even when it is dictated in law, the two arms are poorly separated; the temptation is just too great for the partners. For consulting companies to offer their own certification is too incestuous.Each company is going to have a different emphasis on tools, change management, project alignment, financial tracking, etc. depending on their own corporate culture. This makes it really difficult to form an alliance between companies to handle certification.I encourage clients to form their own, internal certification process through HR. It should have good links between the requirements of the program, the requirements of training, and the final evaluation of BBs and MBBs. The marketplace soon finds out how good their certification process is.Cheers, BTDT

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    #134149

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    CC,
    If I have a client that needs or wants to be audited it just wouldn’t make any sense. The first issue is that it isn’t what I do. I am in the business I enjoy. If I deliver the deployment then audit the deployment someone should really look a little sideways at that.
    Having a name like Ernst and Young or PWC on an audit would certainly carry more credibility in the market place.
    The audit is also good feedback for me as well. Most of the time we are working with someone who becomes the Benefits Capture Manager to set up a system as a part of the deployment. The audit is feedback on how well we did our job.
    Just my opinion.
    Good luck

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    #134163

    jbird
    Participant

    I think there is a market for an audit or for someone to put their stamp of approval on the 6s deployment or program.  As someone mentioned already, the program will naturally go through various stages.  If an objective party/org/company could conduct a semi or annual audit of the program to ensure that the MBBs and BBs are certified or qualified and the projects are impactful and those that are in Control remain in control.  Let’s face it board members and share holders like stuff to hang on their walls.
    Jay

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    #134167

    Maxitab
    Participant

    Darth – you really can be an egotistical twit.  No one thought you wrote the posting ID’d as BoA MBB, except possibly you.    Let me diagram my posting for you in clarification.
    My posting was addressed to BoA MBB, telling him/her I reluctantly agreed with you in your subsequent posting responding to his/her posting and giving some degree of clarification (as background) as to the source and extent of my reluctance.
    I then told BoA MBB that I was in basic agreement with his/her premise regarding different types of skills, knowledge and abilities needed at different stages of SS deployment and alluding to my belief that your own frustration and apparent bitterness regarding your BoA experience might be an artifact of your being locked into the technical stage of deployment and not having the skills or willingness to move into a stage requiring additional business acumen.   
     

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    #134178

    Ken Feldman
    Participant

    Maxi, I apologize for my misinterpretation of your post.

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    #134186

    Maxitab
    Participant

    You are forgiven.   And now I feel bad about being snotty in my response to your response, responding to my response to that other fella’s response to someone else’s posting.    Well not real bad, but sorta bad anyway.   

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    #134196

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Maxitab,
    You two seem to have made up but please let me assure you Darth can hold his own in either a technical environment or a business environment.
    Just my opinion.
    Good luck

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    #134197

    Ken Feldman
    Participant

    Thanks Mike.  Hope all is well and I hope you make it back to S. Fla again so we can visit and drink.  Just had one of my Mexican students bring me a bottle of Don Julio Real.  Incredible stuff and soooo smooth.  It goes well with the Cuban cigars he brought in also.  And yes, he passed the Green Belt exam :-).

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    #134198

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    jbird,
    As you stated, there probably is a market for audit. In one of Darth’s earlier post the question becomes “How big is the market?” When you see the stuff that people purchase on eBay it adds creedance to the old car salesmans saying “there is an a__hole for every seat.” 
    BTDT made a very important point that the audit function should be separate from the consulting function. Should be common sense. If you do not believe it pick up a copy of a book called “The Smartest Guys In the Room.” If you don’t like reading talk to someone (at a low level) that worked for Enron.
    I do believe that a deployment should be audited for the benefits they claim to have produced. That is basic accountability however, the last thing this industry needs is someone setting themselves up as judge, jury and executioner and judging a deployment. The next question becomes “Who qualified you as the auditor?” If the deployment was asked to produce X then you measure it against X. That should as natural to SS as a bear taking care of certain activities in the woods (except Polar Bears of course).
    A glittering generalization about what Board Members like to hang on their walls is in all probability inaccurate to some degree. I am sure there are some that do care and some that could care less. As far as shareholders (I would be cautious of a Board member who is not a shareholder) go the have skin in the game and have a right to have some level of assurance that the announced results are correct. A cancelled check representing a good ROI works wonders for me.
    Just my opinion.
    Good luck

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    #134199

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Darth,
    It sounds like life is good. Congratulations to your Green Belt.
    I don’t see the US again until Easter so making it to South Florida is a ways away. This week has been Northern Ireland and the warm weather of Africa looks pretty good right now.
    Regards

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    #134200

    Joe BB
    Participant

    Smoking Cuban cigars is illegal in the US. Some people just do not care about our laws.Joe BB

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    #134201

    mpl
    Participant

    And some people don’t care about making meaningless contributions to this site.

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    #134202

    Joe BB
    Participant

    mpl is one of them

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    #134203

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Joe BB,
    That is not completely true.
     

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    #134205

    Joe BB
    Participant

    Mike,
    I know, I am just playing. I have a lot of respect for you because of your helpful contributions.

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    #134206

    BTDT
    Participant

    Mike:Wow, what a thread!Our usual rule is to have Finance (internal) sign off on projects with greater than about $50,000 in benefits. Some categries like cost avoidance and revenue growth need an audit at one year to even measure the impact.An external audit of a program would be a combination of process audit (Does your SS program even have controls?), a control audit (Do you follow your own controls?), and a good old random audit to ferret out the ferrets. We did a bit of a data drag once and found a suspiciously large number of projects with just enough of a benefit to qualify for certification.P.S. – If you don’t like reading or talking with people, you can rent the Enron video at Blockbuster.Cheers, BTDT

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    #134208

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Thank you.

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    #134212

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    BTDT,
    Actually become something pretty interesting. Lots of ideas to noodle on the plane tomorrow.
    The two companies that audited us actually checked everything. They checked our process, benefits calculations, audited the audits, etc. It actually felt pretty good to have that third party opinion.
    We actually catagorize by: A. Income Statement or Cash Flow impact B. Balance Sheet or Cash Flow impact C. Expense avoidance from predictable events D. Risk Management from unpredictable events.
    It makes people think the impact of the project through. Different situations take different types of projects so you need to get people understanding the business impact of where they are using company resources.
    I haven’t caught the video so I will have to check it out. Have you seen Pirates of Silicon Valley? I love that last line (probably never happened): Jobs – “Bill we are better than you.” Gates – “It doesn’t matter.” Neither ended up poor but I am sure it isn’t about money for these guys.
    Just my opinion.
    Regards

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    #134261

    Jason Shields
    Participant

    I think there is a market for this concept.  I’m confident that if a reputable company developed an audit product and stayed out of the delivery/implementation stuff they could sell it.  Especially if the product could attain some level of approval or acceptance from ASQ or the European equivalent the EOQ. 
    This product would be helpful especially for those smaller/medium sized companies who are running their own internal quality programs.  It would need to be something along the lines of the ISO certs but without all the baggage. 
    The way things are going these days with 2 week MBB certs and BB and GB qualifications becoming more and more diluted someone will need to set a bar that must be achieved and maintained to be able to say “We are effectively employing LEAN and/or Six Sigma.” 

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