Technical skills are critical, but they aren’t enough
Lean Six Sigma is a powerful business tool. But without the right employee engagement and processes, many companies fail to reap the benefits. We’ve partnered with Mike Pecoraro and Leap Technologies on an award-winning Lean Six Sigma project that led to client saving $145 million annually.
Here Mike answers frequently asked questions about L6S and RapidChange.
Create a sense of urgency
1. How do you go about convincing people that Lean Six Sigma is worth the effort – even if we’re not dying today?
Mike: First, a lot of it depends upon your culture. You’ll need to acknowledge and recognize that employees fear what they don’t know.
- Clearly articulate why you want to launch a L6S effort. You can anticipate the questions on your employees’ minds and address them in the form of “frequently asked questions or a Q & A”.
- Include in your “pitch” to employees the answer to this question … What is in it for them? Launching a L6S effort must include something for everyone at all levels of the organization. If you can’t appeal to all stakeholders, the effort will not be sustainable.
Are we a good L6S candidate?
Only 19 percent of companies who try Lean Six Sigma are successful over successive years. Are there company traits we should look for to see if we’re a candidate to be one of the 19 percent instead of one of the 81 percent?
Mike: The keys to driving LSS return on investment and ultimate success include these five characteristics:
- Aligned and focused project selection (i.e. picking projects that align with strategy and key goals),
- High Belt effectiveness (i.e. ability to complete projects in rapid timeframes – 3 months instead of the 6 to 9 month or longer norm),
- The ability to engage employees at all levels of the organization in improvement projects (not just the Belts),
- The ability to “replicate” solutions (standardize and spread best practices).
- The ability to transfer ownership for solutions to line management to sustain the gains made by improvement teams. This means identifying a local process owner responsible for tracking and reporting process performance on a regular basis.
For example, a team of nurses was assembled to reduce after shift reporting overtime and established a set of 10 standard practices for all nursing units to follow to reduce overtime. Once piloted and proven to work, Nurse Managers on each floor were identified as Process Owners and were responsible for monitoring and tracking performance. Nurse Managers reported on key overtime metrics (along with all of their peers) at the monthly nurse manager meeting. After several months, the practices were fully integrated and performance was sustained.
Unfortunately, these are characteristics that few companies have. The good news is that they can be developed and should be an integral part of any LSS Deployment.
Make it happen fast
If a company doesn’t have three years or five years to be successful with L6S, what’s the fastest way to get meaningful results?
Mike: The three-to-five year time horizon is a myth propagated by some consultants and many deployment leaders to buy time and avoid being held accountable for results. Yes, LSS in a “journey” but meaningful results can be achieved in most deployments within a year.