Walking The Talk Is More Than Lip Service

Posted by on Jan 5, 2020 in Lean Six Sigma, Lean Six Sigma Deployment | 0 comments

More and more organizations dabble in Lean Six Sigma everyday.  Some see the chaos that exists in their organization and want to stop the bleeding.  Others see it as a means to become more efficient and thus save time and money.  Some see it as a way to increase revenue without increasing headcount therefore doing more with less resources.

But how many organizations go all in and are committed to making Lean and Six Sigma their operational strategy?  Sure CEOs and company presidents see the improvements and gains made and talk about it whenever they get a chance, but do they actually make these techniques the foundation of their improvement strategy?  Do they implement a process to determine how well the new strategy is working and what areas of the business could benefit using the techniques and tools?

Art Byrne, former CEO of Wiremold Company, in his book The Lean Turnaround, How Business Leaders Use Lean Principles to Create Value and Transform Their Company, states that “conceptually, shifting from a traditional to a Lean strategy is simple and straightforward.  The problem is that it is very hard to do.”  It isn’t something that’s accomplished overnight.  Seeing and eliminating waste is a multiyear effort.  There will be many hurdles and challenges to overcome.  Success requires leadership from the very top and cannot be delegated down in the organization.

So, how do presidents and CEOs become actively engaged.  As Byrne states in his book, “Part of leading the change is leading by example.”  Let me relate an experience that I had during my career that I think serves as an excellent model.

During the last ten years of my career at Delphi, we implemented Lean Six Sigma as our strategy for making improvements.  We contracted with a consulting firm and several of us from each division were trained as Black Belts.  Each division created an Executive Steering committee to oversee the implementation of the process at each location.  The very first Green Belt class at my division was for our divisional president and his staff.  They blocked out their calendars and spent three consecutive days with us off-site, learning the various tools, techniques, and principles.  The president and each member of his staff led their respective Green Belt projects and were the first certified Green Belts.  Our president and his staff then went on to become  Black Belts.  They saw the value in learning and understanding the tools and techniques and set the example for everyone in the organization!  This allowed the highest levels in our organization to lead the process, conduct effective tollgate reviews, and to participate in and lead projects and kaizen events.

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