Practitioners’ Lean Six Sigma Predictions for 2014

Posted by: meikah | 23 January 2014 | 2:50 am

Photo credit

It’s a new year, and that means new challenges for the business.

I know you have been working on your processes the whole of 2013, and leveraging strategies such as Six Sigma, Lean Six Sigma, Lean, Kanban, among other things.

So what’s in store for Lean Six Sigma this 2014? Some practitioners were asked and here’s what they have to say:

Kaj Ahlmann, Owner
Six Sigma Ranch & Winery
“Think process, not silo, and focus on the customer [the voice of the customer…”

Dr. Charles Brandon, Director, Performance Improvement Office
U.S. Department of Defense
“There will be a renewed emphasis on understanding and tapping into the skillsets the continuous process improvement (CPI)/LSS practioner brings to the table. More organizations will endeavor to involve CPI/LSS during the initial stages of program/project definition, allowing for an astute incorporation of progressive management philosophies and techniques during the definition of an effort…”

Gary G. Jing, LDFSS Deployment Leader, Master Black Belt
Tyco Electronics, Telecom
“Start off with Lean to address the big-picture view and everything else it can, and use Six Sigma to fill the voids.”

Eric Maass, PhD, Engineering Program Director, DRM/DFSS and Lead Master Black Belt
“We are progressing toward a more proactive approach incorporating more Lean Six Sigma principles and less reactive, blind adoption, meaning more products are being designed for high yield and high reliability without rework, and processes are “born” Lean, consistent with Lean principles and ready for production ramp-up.”

Daniel Stoelb, Regional Lean Leader
“Continuing to work in the trenches to help improve the percentage of success with Lean and Six Sigma through the leadership and people side.”

Damon Werner, Director, Six Sigma, Master Black Belt
McKesson Connected Care & Analytics
“(Work on) efficiencies gained in our process improvement efforts in the area of implementations.”


What is your prediction?

Filed under: Six Sigma, Six Sigma Advantage, Team Dynamics, Technology

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Workshop with Dr. Umit Ozen: Business Process Mapping

Posted by: meikah | 17 April 2012 | 3:59 am

Participants of the Managing Risk and Performance Through Business Process Management workshop were lucky to have Dr. Umit Ozen as the lead trainer.

He is an expert in Lean Production, Six Sigma, Process Management, Strategic Planning, Balance Scorecard, among other things. He has more than 18 years of experience in the fields of management strategies, so you can just imagine the depth of his knowledge, both theoretical and practical. You can be assured that when you are in the presence of trainers with this caliber, you will take home a lot of insights.

It was my first time to attend a workshop, and I promise myself that I will be taking workshops from now on. It’s interactive and more educational than attending a conference.

With Dr. Ozen, he was very generous with his ideas, and he’s the kind of trainer that is motivational and approachable. He went around, hopped on every table to see what each one of us was doing, and he would correct, suggest, and show us how to improve our output.

The first workshop we had, the activity was creating a business process map. He made us watch a video showing how to make a cup of delicious Turkish coffee. It looked so easy, but when the process mapping came, we didn’t really have an easy time.

Here’s my group doing the process map before presenting it to the group:

Reviewing our process map

Wrapping up our process map

Presenting our process map

Here’s the PLDT group, our seatmate, making their process map as well.

A process is easy to talk about, and in fact some are under the impression that it’s easy to do things, you just do it. But when you go to writing down and describing what you are do, it’s a different story. I admit, I was stumped for a time there, which means, I really need more training. {LOL}

Here are some tips in creating a process map:

Before drawing a process -

  • Identify your process goals
  • Determine your process starts and stop points
  • List down your resources
  • Identify your inputs and outputs
  • Identify your customers and suppliers
  • Identify your owner/responsible/practitioners
  • Establish your procedures and forms
  • Determine your performance indicators and targets
  • Classify your sub-processes/activities carefully

It’s also important to know the process attributes:

  • repetitive
  • definable
  • controllable
  • manageable
  • measurable
  • continually improvable (PDCA)
  • able to create added value

The  key to creating a process map is teamwork. It is evident in the pictures above. The team huddled together and discuss how each member understands the process, after which the team draws the map. It is important that everyone understands the process before making the map. Of course, the process map is not carved in stone. When necessary, the process map can be updated and improved.

Another value of writing down your process map is that you will discover steps that are unnecessary, and thus you streamline. Then you can begin to go lean.

The prize of making the process map is a cup of Turkish cup! :)

We didn’t get to taste the brewed one though. But Dr. Ozen brought in some instant 3-in-1 Turkish coffee. It was very rich and it tastes like rice coffee. Every sip, you get to taste some granules. It was yummy!

You may also want to read about what I learned during the workshop here. I suggest you look out for next year’s workshop session.

My BIG challenge now is to apply this to my workplace. :D

Filed under: Balanced Scorecard, Business Process Mapping, Dr. Umit Ozen, Lean, Lean Six Sigma, ProcessModel, Six Sigma, Team Dynamics, Tools/Toolkits, Training

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8 Steps to a Successful Lean Implementation

Posted by: meikah | 7 April 2010 | 7:54 pm

I’m sure you have read a lot of tips for a successful lean implementation. But another set of tips won’t do us any harm. I got the tips from Lokesh R of iSixSigma.

  1. Create a Burning Platform. A burning platform means that there is a compelling reason for the company to go into Lean Six Sigma. An urgency, or even an emergency always kicks people to do something about and are more willing to address the problem.
  2. Put Resources in Place. Do not hesitate to hire the right resource—may it be employees, material, or technology—at the right price. For people resource, it is also important that you put people who can work as or with a team. All resources must adhere to your company’s vision.
  3. Teach the Methodology. Train team members to be powerful change agents, and trainees should share the organization’s vision.
  4. Prioritize Activities. Learn what to overlook and where to take risks. Prioritize: (1) Listen to the customer (2) Identify critical-to-quality criteria (3) Ensure Lean Six Sigma efforts are linked to business goals
  5. Establish Ownership. Make it clear who owns the Lean Six Sigma initiative. With ownership comes empowerment and a sense of pride, and team members who are more committed, accountable and engaged.
  6. Take the Right Measurements. Create a measurement system which helps determine baseline and process performance for objective decision making and analysis of variation. The key for measurement is to get the cost of quality right.
  7. Govern the Program. Successful management of the program can ensure its sustainability.
  8. Recognize Contributions. Rewards and recognition of good work inspire, build enthusiasm and help drive innovation.


Filed under: Lean, Lean Six Sigma, Six Sigma, Team Dynamics

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Managing Change in Your Six Sigma Team

Posted by: meikah | 24 March 2010 | 9:08 pm

Change is inevitable. Cliche, but true. Anything is bound to change sooner or later, especially these days when people leave for greener pastures or have left because of streamlining.

During changes, team-based projects are the one that get most affected. New members come in and so adjustments have to be made.

If your Six Sigma team is undergoing changes right now and is facing challenges, here’s a tip from Thomas S. Ostasiewski, PE, PMP. He shared his insights on Six Sigma IQ (non-italics are my thoughts):

  1. Find a way to break down your Six Sigma project into reasonable chunks and celebrate the achievement of each of them. So perhaps before an impending team member’s leaving, you celebrate with the team milestones and achievements.
  2. Bring the others in as needed. If team members realize each one’s value to the team, they will be more receptive to new members coming in.
  3. Make sure you have Champion and management support, and make your expectations in this area clear with your team. Emphasize with your team members the things that are expected of them, “un-reward” or reward them accordingly. Recognition and rewards system when carried out well can strengthen the team.

Read more…

Note: You can also access on Six Sigma IQ Blog Index.

Filed under: Six Sigma, Six Sigma Team, Team Dynamics

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10 Catalysts for Successful Six Sigma Programs

Posted by: meikah | 20 October 2009 | 9:37 pm

The dictionary defines a catalyst as a person or an event that causes great change. For an organization, the catalyst would be a high incidence of waste or errors in the processes. If an organization is experiencing errors or making wastes the tendency is for that organization to break through and change.

This is where quality principles or strategies come in. For many companies, they see Six Sigma as their catalyst for change. In return, for a Six Sigma program to succeed, it also needs a catalyst. What are the persons or events in a Six Sigma team or Six Sigma program can inspire great change.

An article on iSixSigma lists 10 catalysts for successful Six Sigma programs.

  1. Select the Right Focus Areas
  2. Identify the Constraints
  3. Collect and Interpret Comprehensive Data
  4. Demonstrate a Business Case
  5. Provide the Value Perspective
  6. Take Advantage of People Power
  7. Use Soft Skills
  8. Sustain Improvements
  9. Manage Resistance to Change
  10. Duplicate Success

Read more…

Filed under: Deployment, Six Sigma, Team Dynamics, Tools/Toolkits

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6 Steps to Get Leadership Involved in Lean Six Sigma

Posted by: meikah | 21 September 2009 | 7:14 pm

Time and again, we are told that leadership involvement is very crucial in any Six Sigma or Lean Six Sigma initiatives. But often Six Sigma teams still have a hard time getting full support from the leaders.

Here are six steps to get leadership involved in Lean Six Sigma.

  1. Verify the core needs of the customers and the business. 
  2. Identify and map suitable metrics that are aligned with these requirements. This may require the creation of new metrics and possibly the elimination of outdated measures.
  3. Understand the performance over time for each of the metrics.
  4. Strategically determine which projects have the highest priority. Leaders will need to determine the criteria for the matrix, and having them work through the matrix creates ownership.
  5. Provide the resources for projects. This will start with a Champion to help guide the project, secure the resources and report progress to the leaders on a regular basis.
  6. Continue the cycle of involvement. As projects are completed and results achieved, leadership must begin the process of continuing to determine the next projects, provide resources…

Read more…

iSixSigma Library

Filed under: Leadership, Lean Six Sigma, Six Sigma, Team Dynamics

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Getting the Most from a Leaner Organization

Posted by: meikah | 26 August 2009 | 8:05 pm

One of my favorite quotes on management is this:

“The conventional definition of management is getting work done through people, but real management is developing people through work.”  Agha Hasan Abedi

I believe in empowering people and help them develop their full potential. But this is easy to say, and in my experience with managing people, there are times that I go overboard. I zealously oversee to the point that they can no longer decide for themselves. What makes me take a step backward and leave them alone is when they would always consult me for even the littlest thing.

However, there is a way to do it. BNET features five companies that get the most from a leaner organization. That is their secret to managing efficiently.

These five companies “pushed power, information, and authority down the organizational structure, sometimes in sharp opposition to the corporate culture. In every case, the lighter managerial touch produced more-motivated workers, cost savings, higher productivity, happier customers, or fatter profits.”

Read about each one of them.

Filed under: Lean, Team Dynamics

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4 Ways for Six Sigma Teams to Navigate Organizational Politics

Posted by: meikah | 18 August 2009 | 9:40 pm

There is politics everywhere, and so, it’s always a sink or swim situation. Of course, for the sake our sanity as well as that of the organization we belong to, we devise ways to survive the political current.

Frank Lucer, writing for Business Management on Technology Toolkit, says that there are three ways by which Six Sigma teams can navigate organizational politics.

  1. Eliminate employee resistance – For some employees, change can mean learning new skills, perform different tasks, and have new responsibilities. These may not sit well with them who have been used to doing certain things their own way. Six Sigma team can assuage these fears by showing them that change can in fact do them good.
  2. Communicate the reason – As in any new thing or change, employees are scared to fail. Six Sigma team should openly explain the benefits of Six Sigma, why it is being implemented, and why it is expected to succeed where others failed.
  3. Bypass office policies – One of the hurdles in implementing change is working for or against company policies. This is where management should lend their support. If the Six Sigma team is well supported by top management, the team and the rest of the employees can easily reach a compromise.
  4. Manage conflict within the group – Conflicting ideas and opinions within the Six Sigma team is not uncommon. Black Belts or Master Black Belts should encourage everyone to express their ideas and offer creative solutions. “As much as Six Sigma is a discipline that is built upon statistical analysis, it is first a methodology that relies upon people.”

Read more…

Filed under: Politics, Six Sigma, Six Sigma Organizations, Team Dynamics

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SixSig Reference Feature: The 5 Key Facets of Quality Leadership

Posted by: meikah | 29 June 2009 | 5:56 pm

qualiy leadership

You all know about quality methodologies, such as Six Sigma, and you try to use all of them or in combination to improve processes in our organizations.

However, you also notice that not all organizations are succeeding in their chosen quality methodologies. Perhaps, because a methodology can only do so much. It is still the people behind those methodologies who can make it work or not. That is why it’s crucial that you choose the good, if not the best, people to be on the team.

BNET shares a good article on the five key facets of quality leadership. And each quality spells F.A.C.E.T. :)

  1. Focus
  2. Authenticity
  3. Courage
  4. Empathy
  5. Timing

Read more about each facet.

*Photo from Stock.Xchng

Filed under: Leadership, Quality, Six Sigma References, Team Dynamics

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Utilizing the Six Sigma Chain of Command

Posted by: meikah | 9 June 2009 | 9:23 pm

Six Sigma Chain of Command

Tony Jacowski writes an article on how to utilize the Six Sigma chain of command. He says that everyone in the Six Sigma team should help each other out and be capable of helping others.

… Six Sigma green belts should reach out to black belts for help, and Six Sigma black belts should be able to turn to Six Sigma master black belts for advice. Everyone should use the resources offered by the Six Sigma champion on the organization to improve the rate of success for various projects.

Companies that embrace Six Sigma and have placed an emphasis on training their employees in the business model can encourage this kind of interaction easily. Use the Six Sigma green belt in the company as team members when a new project comes up, and put a Six Sigma black belt in charge of managing the team. Encourage the black belt team leader to meet with the master black belt regularly to discuss the teams’ progress and any problems. The master black belt can liaise with the champion on any problems than cannot be resolved at the team level, or they can put the black belt in charge of the team in touch with the champion for particularly difficult issues.

Read more…

Teamwork always applies to any project.

*Photo from Stock.Xchng

Filed under: Deployment, Six Sigma, Team Dynamics

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