By Ashley Christman, LSS MBB, SSBBP, CSM, CSPO
I recently read an article in which the author called Lean Six Sigma a ‘management fad.’ There were three core aspects that the author highlighted, in discussing his experiences, that struck my attention:
1. Lack of buy-in
2. Lack of adequate training for staff
3. No plan for ongoing monitoring of processes
These things are common in ineffective Lean Six Sigma deployments and can leave a bad taste in employees’ mouths. To counter this, a successful Lean Six Sigma or Process Improvement program should include the following:
- Buy-in: You need to have buy-in from staff and management, not just the enthusiasm from executive leadership. Staff are the people who execute the process. Middle management is crucial to have on board; in the long run, they are the process owners and ultimately contribute to the long-term success of any Lean Six Sigma or Process Improvement initiative by engaging and educating their staff in process improvement work and long-term management of the improvements.
- Training: Oftentimes training is provided, but it’s only enough to get a few higher-level employees through the process. In a successful deployment, all staff are trained to the level appropriate for their work. This empowers all staff to make suggestions and small improvements in their own work.
- Planning for Success: Part of creating sustainability in any Process Improvement program is ensuring that there are long-term plans for evaluation of capabilities, determining the need for improvement, and looking for a way to pursue perfection. Too many times once the project is done, people call it fixed and fail to revisit the process later to see what changes are needed or if the improvements that were previously made are still sustainable.
Lean Six Sigma is not a fad. It is a method used by organizations to implement changes and continuously improve. Organizations should take the time to deploy a Process Improvement or Lean Six Sigma program conscientiously and they should consider the changes in culture. In doing so, the process improvement program can provide a great return on investment and long-term success for employees and leadership alike.
KAI Partners offers Process Improvement services. To learn more about our services or to schedule a needs assessment to see how we can help in your Process Improvement journey, please call us 916-465-8065 or fill out this contact form.
About the Author: Ashley Christman is a former nurse and Certified Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt with a background in organizational change management and Lean. Her extensive experience in healthcare quality and performance improvement has transformed a number of organizations and led to better outcomes in patient care, reductions in wait times, and more. Her experience includes consulting for the CA Department of Public Health as well as multiple large hospital systems, including Santa Rosa Memorial and Petaluma Valley Hospital. Her passion for improvement and educating others led her to begin teaching in order to help entrepreneurs, professionals, and leaders create a sustainable culture change by empowering them to be change agents and champions of innovation. You can find her online at @learnlivelean on Twitter and on LinkedIn.