Effective Solutions Through Partnership

Category Archives: Lean

KAI Partners Staff Profile: The OCM Consultant

Business Analysis, Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO), Certified ScrumMaster (CSM), Communications, Continuous Improvement, Corporate Training, Government, Healthcare, Human Resources, KAI Partners, KAI Partners Staff Profile, Lean, Lean Six Sigma, Learning, Organizational Change Management (OCM), Process Improvement, Professional Development, Prosci, Sacramento, Six Sigma, Technology

There are many paths to success and while not everyone takes the same path, we often manage to arrive at the same destination. In our KAI Partners Staff Profile series, we share interviews and insight from some of our own employees here at KAI Partners. Our staff brings a diversity in education, professional, and life experience, all of which demonstrate that the traditional route is not necessarily the one that must be traveled in order to achieve success.

Today, we bring you the journey of Denise Larcade, an Organizational Change Management (OCM) Consultant for KAI Partners. Denise recently supported Business Process Re-engineering implementation for a KAI Partners client before moving on to implement some special projects at KAI Partners headquarters. Denise’s next client-facing role starts soon—she will be an OCM consultant for a California public sector state agency to help them move from a paper system to an electronic process.

KAI Partners, Inc.: How did you get into your line of work?

Denise Larcade: I started in grocery retail working in the stores—I found areas where I excelled and was able to implement Human Resource, Technology, and Operations practices. The grocery industry, much like banking and airlines, fell into mergers and acquisitions. I was placed on various mergers and acquisitions teams and due to my experience, eventually led activities to support retail mergers and acquisitions. My last merger came with a relocation from Idaho to Minnesota which didn’t work for my family at that time, so I chose to go back to school and get my bachelor’s degree. Not enough to fill my time and still residing in Idaho, I looked for local opportunities where my skills would transfer outside of the retail industry. I was hired on as a contractor to a local tech firm headquartered in Boise, Idaho to work on HR restructuring. While creating a plan to support HR restructuring, I saw an opportunity to move from paper-based manual processes to electronic stream-lined process improvements. My next venture, also outside of my roots in retail, was to lead training and development efforts to support the implementation of Idaho state’s new MMIS (Medicaid Management Information System). Two years in, I received the phone call from a former Idaho colleague at MMIS to support training and development on California’s MMIS. This was the opportunity to move back home to California, and I was excited to spend more time with my 96-year-old grandmother. I moved back to California and was fortunate to have three quality years with the matriarch of our family.

KAI: Are there any certifications or trainings you’ve gone through that have helped in your career?

DL: I received training and certification as part of leadership development when I worked in grocery retail. This training was instrumental in understanding the people side of change long before Prosci was identified as a Change Methodology. My experience in mergers and acquisitions prepared me for being a leader for change. Later, getting my Prosci certification was a desire as the methodology aligned to activities I valued in my merger and acquisitions experience.

I have been twice certified as a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt. The first time was more than 20 years ago and my recent certification occurred earlier in 2018. It was nice to compare what is still a valued practice in Lean Six Sigma methodologies and how technology advancements provide a more streamlined approach to process improvement.

KAI: What is your favorite part about your line of work and why?

DL: Teaching others and assisting resistors through change. No one likes change and what I find most interesting is that we adapt and make changes in our personal lives every day, so why are we not as willing to make changes in our work lives? I like leading a group through the awareness of making a personal change and how and why adopting that same mindset is valuable to you, to others, and to your employer in your work life.

KAI: What is one of the most common question you receive from clients and what counsel or advice do you give them?

DL: “Why do we have to change? We have been doing it this way forever. Doesn’t ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix it’ apply?” My advice is to walk people through their personal life changes, e.g., The oven still works and isn’t broken, so why would you invest in a microwave? What are the benefits of a microwave versus an oven? Do those benefits support the investment? There are so many examples that support change. If we don’t change as a business, how can we be current and competitive?

Now that we’ve learned more about Denise’s OCM work, here’s a little more about her!

Quick Q&A with Denise:

Daily, must-visit website: I don’t have one, but I subscribe to many technology and change newsletters.  Sometimes you need something that pertains to your current focus of work.

Preferred genre of music or podcast to listen to: Top Pop and Top Country—I like to be relatable to the generations following mine. The music is usually uplifting and gives me lots of positive energy.

Best professional advice received: My grandfather was a great businessman; he developed his own corporation and was successful as a professional business leader, CEO, and mentor. He always said, “Your word is your commitment and treat others how you would like to be treated.”

Book you can read over and over again: Jack Welch’s book “Winning.” I could read it over and over again and it always pertains to my work at hand.

Most-recent binge-watched show: I don’t watch much TV and tend to turn it on for background noise; however, I am a fan of Survivor and the Amazing Race. I love to watch people problem-solve and I like to be on teams where people problem-solve.

About Denise: Denise Larcade is an Organizational Development Consultant and Merger and Acquisitions Expert. She is a Certified ScrumMaster, Certified Scrum Product Owner, Lean Six Sigma Green Belt, and is Prosci certified. She has over 25 years of experience in training, development, and leading companies through organizational change management. Denise has worked in corporate retail, technology, and government healthcare and most recently has experience with large-scale implementations nationwide. She currently works as an Executive Consultant with KAI Partners, Inc., providing client support to KAI Partners’ state clients. Denise grew up in the Silicon Valley and relocated to Utah and Idaho before recently returning to her native California roots.

3 Tips to Implement a Successful Process Improvement Program

Continuous Improvement, Lean, Lean Six Sigma, Process Improvement, Project Management, Sacramento, Six Sigma

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Why the Lean Six Sigma Green Belt is Ideal for Managers [INFOGRAPHIC]

Continuous Improvement, Corporate Training, Infographic, KAIP Academy, Lean, Lean Six Sigma, Learning, Managing/Leadership, Professional Development, Sacramento, Six Sigma, Training, Workforce Development

By Ashley Christman, LSS MBB, SSBBP, CSM

Are you thinking about getting a Lean Six Sigma certification? With several levels to choose from, it can be hard to know which is best for you. Here’s some insight:

Yellow Belts are professionals who have enough of the basic language and tools to act as subject matter experts. They’re empowered to make changes within their own work, but not quite prepared to tackle larger products. A Yellow Belt will give you the basics of Lean.

As a manager, though, you’re probably already spending your day collecting and analyzing data to implement fixes. Here’s where a Green Belt comes in. A Green Belt designation can help you utilize that data more effectively. Green Belt practitioners are equipped with the tools necessary to work on more complex projects and begin to lead change. A Green Belt also prepares you for the next step in Lean Six Sigma Certification: A Black Belt, for the advanced practitioner.

Need more? Here are the top three reasons why managers should be certified in Lean Six Sigma Green Belt.

Interested in getting your Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification? The KAIP Academy is accredited through the Council for Six Sigma Certification as an independent training provider. For a list of our current Lean course offerings in Sacramento, visit http://academy.kaipartners.com/course/lean-six-sigma-green-belt-certification/.

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.

Improving Processes with Lean Six Sigma

Continuous Improvement, KAIP Academy, Lean, Lean Six Sigma, Learning, Professional Development, Sacramento, Six Sigma, Training, Workforce Development

By Spencer Sheff, CSM, LSSGB

Whether we notice it or not, our days are full of processes. Waking up in the morning, getting dressed, brushing our teeth, and driving where we need to go each day are just a few of the processes we undertake within the first hours of every morning.

Over the course of a day, we may complete hundreds of processes without even realizing it. Given that fact, it’s no wonder why a complaint most people have is that there aren’t enough hours in the day. Although there’s no way of adding more hours to our days (yet…c’mon science) we can optimize the hours we have by maximizing the efficiency of the processes we undertake day in and day out. How, you might ask? By utilizing Lean Six Sigma methodology.

I recently completed the Lean Six Sigma Green Belt course through the KAIP Academy. According to Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt and course instructor Ashley Christman, Lean Six Sigma is a combination of the Lean and Six Sigma quality improvement methodologies. The two are not the same thing, but they work very complementary to each other and Lean Six Sigma takes full advantage of that. Lean Six Sigma focuses on eliminating waste, improving flow, reducing variation, and minimizing defects.

In the Lean Six Sigma Green Belt course, each course participant proposed a project to the class and as a group, we had to pick one project to focus on over the course of the 4-day class. We chose to work on a project proposed by someone who worked as an industrial engineer for a manufacturing company. Her company had been using the same manufacturing process for 20 years and had become inefficient, but they didn’t know how to fix the process.

As we became more and more knowledgeable with our Lean Six Sigma Green Belt skills, we were able to construct a business process map of the manufacturing process and apply Lean Six Sigma analysis to reconstruct the process in a way that eliminated waste within the process and streamlined production. We were able to fix the problem at hand, but more importantly we were able to deliver a solution that we projected would make the company even more profitable. Rather than just being able to eliminate errors in production, we came up with a process that made production faster thus allowing the company to manufacture more of their product than ever before.

The most interesting part of the class was not the solution we created, but seeing how we were able to solve the problem. Our class consisted of myself (a college student) and my two classmates, the industrial engineer and a nurse case manager. We undertook the industrial engineer’s problem, and at face value it’d be a fair assumption to think there was no way a college student and an RN could help solve an industrial engineer’s problem. However, as the class progressed, the RN and I were able to give what our engineer friend referred to as “extremely valuable” input. This absolutely blew my mind because from my perspective I didn’t think I’d be any help trying to solve problems an industrial engineer is facing and struggling with.

With my newfound Lean Six Sigma skills, I was able to give valuable insight into a problem I didn’t know I had the capability to solve, proving to me just how effective Lean Six Sigma is and how valuable it is to have as a tool in my toolbox.

The skills I learned were used to solve a real world industrial problem, but that’s not all they’re good for. Like I said earlier, we undertake so many processes each day. For one reason or another it always seems like there’s not enough time to do what we need to do with the time we’re given. Lean Six Sigma isn’t limited to just the business world. If you learn these skills, you can apply them to your personal life as well. By eliminating waste and reducing variance in the daily processes, you can put yourself in a place where at the end of the day it seems like you have too much time and not enough to do. I’ve already started implementing Lean Six Sigma in my daily life and by eliminating waste and variance in my morning routine, I was able to get myself an extra half hour of sleep every day, and who doesn’t love sleep?

After taking this class, I feel like I can get more done than before and in far less time. The skills I learned in this class have already helped me in my everyday life. More importantly for me though, these skills are going to help open growth opportunities as I begin my career no matter what field I go into. That is invaluable. After seeing it firsthand, I feel confident in my ability to walk into whatever company I work for and help make impactful change that benefits the company as a whole. I don’t believe many people will be able to say that their first day on the job…Unless they are Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certified, of course.

Interested in taking the KAIP Academy’s Lean Six Sigma Green Belt course? Check our Eventbrite page for a complete listing of our course roster. Want to chat with our Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt directly? Email Ashley Christman to learn more about the course!

About the Author: Spencer Sheff is an Intern for KAI Partners. He is a rising junior at Claremont McKenna College dual majoring in Applied Math and Economics. Spencer is also the captain of Claremont McKenna’s football team. In his spare time, he likes to read, lift weights, and go camping.