Steven Brown shares the three things you need to know to be successful in leading a Lean Six Sigma project. Use this knowledge to properly place emphasis as a project leader.
- John F. Kennedy once said, "Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other." we can apply this thought to a Lean Six Sigma project. Success is very dependent upon an organization that will provide strong leadership and also be open to learning from their experiences. To be successful in leading a Lean Six Sigma project, there are three things you need from your company. First and foremost, leadership from the top. The organization has to be committed to a Lean Six Sigma strategy. And equally important, top managers must effectively communicate that commitment and must continuously demonstrate their support in their daily actions. General Electric is a great example of corporate leadership. GE launched Six Sigma with much fanfare and then immediately notified every employee that being certified in Six Sigma was now a condition of employment. I would say that is pretty effective communication. But also important to note is that the company put its full resources behind supporting the new effort by providing project budgets, training, and people to the certification program. Their goal was to change the corporate culture and to do so practically overnight. Such an assertive approach will not work in all companies, but it certainly worked for GE at that time. Every Lean Six Sigma project needs highly skilled team members, and that begins with the project leader. The company must ensure that you as the leader of this effort are a properly trained and a highly accomplished employee. Team members expect the team leader to be an expert in both lean and Six Sigma practices and to have demonstrated a strong track record of success in previous projects. The team and the company deserve nothing less. The company must also ensure that you and your project get top talent when it comes to assigning employees to the team. This is one where leadership from the top shows its true commitment to the program. Because Lean Six Sigma projects are temporary assignments, it is sometimes difficult for managers to release their best people when most needed. Their willingness to do is a true sign of commitment. I cannot say enough about the importance of providing a supporting infrastructure. Simply put, your project's success is directly dependent upon a pool of experts and applying lean tools, Six Sigma methods, and project management skills. This requires an extensive training program with resources to allow continuous learning throughout the organization. Projects must have an effective system for both selection and review. Financial systems, planning systems, and recognition systems all must be adjusted to support Lean Six Sigma success. And lastly, following up on President Kennedy's statement, the organization must be able to learn from the successes and the failures of each project and apply that new knowledge to future projects. Before beginning a Lean Six Sigma project, think about these three considerations and evaluate your company's position in each area. It will give you a good indication in advance of where you might need to put your emphasis as a project leader.
Steven outlines the process stages in Six Sigma (define, measure, analyze, improve, and control), along with the Lean toolkit: the 5s principles, kanban (scheduling), downtime, poka-yoke (error proofing), and kaizen (continuous improvement). He also explains how leadership works within Lean Six Sigma, the principles of project execution, and how Lean Six Sigma is applied to the service sector and supply chain management. Make sure to watch the "Next steps" video at the end of the course for further resources.
- List the three main focuses of Six Sigma.
- Explain why lean is an important element of the Six Sigma approach.
- Summarize why Control is the most important step in the Six Sigma process.
- Analyze variables to determine if they are a good performance measurement.
- Describe three typical methods of improving supply chain functions.
- Identify three things you will need in order to lead a Lean Six Sigma project effectively.