Today, everywhere in the world Six Sigma is making its mark by being one of the best process improvement methodologies. In fact, effective Lean and Six Sigma implementation has increased the efficiency of enterprises across industry verticals. And many companies across the globe are hoping to emulate the Six Sigma success of industry big wigs such as GE, Motorola, Toyota and more.
But how do you come to conclusion whether Six Sigma is right for your business or not. To understand that you need to know the steps involved during Six Sigma implementation and ensure your organization and its key personnel are able to carry out properly even before you make the decision.  Without understanding what is being done and why it is being done, the Lean and Six Sigma will have a very limited scope to improve. So, let us take a look at top 10 tips for successful implementation of Lean and Six Sigma.

  1. Change of behavior is as important as the tools:

    Industry experts believe that change in behavior is mandatory for effective implementation of change. People have this tendency to work around a problem rather than fixing it, and this is where Lean and Six Sigma inculcates willingness to constantly address problems that arise in business processes. When people are committed to change their behavior even tools will be incorporated seamlessly. Training your workforce in Lean and Six Sigma is one thing, but without change in behavior the whole process will be just academic without any practical implications.

  2. Lean and Six Sigma should be part of organization’s goals and core strategy:

    Incorporating Lean and Six Sigma as a part of organization’s goals and core strategy is one of the key ingredients for its successful implementation. And without that the whole initiative will have a short-term life where people discard the methodology even before it is properly established in the organization. Moreover, when an organization has a core methodology to the central of everything, then integrating Lean and Six Sigma into that will increases the chances of success.

  3. There needs to be a strong platform:

    Enterprises should have a strong platform or a compelling reason to implement Lean and Six Sigma. Below mentioned are few examples of having a strong platform:

    • “We are receiving a lot of customer complaints who are facing quality issues.”
    • “Our inability to finish projects on time is helping our competition to gain better market share.”Without a strong platform, there is very less motivation to implement a continuous improvement initiative such as Lean and Six Sigma. Senior management and leadership in an organization should be familiar with the compelling reasons, and understand how process improvement methodologies such as Lean and Six Sigma can address those problems. It is not like without a strong platform or compelling reasons Lean and Six Sigma cannot be implemented; it is just that there will be more impetus towards achieving high standards to provide services of highest quality.
  1. Make sure there is top-down approach towards Lean Six Sigma implementation:

    Organizations around the world may be tempted to apply Lean and Six Sigma in a bottom-up approach, but industry experts believe it is worth an effort to engage senior and middle managers first in these process improvement methodologies. Their engagement in the implementation of Lean and Six Sigma towards improving critical business processes will strengthen other associated behaviors which will help in increased adoption by others as well. Without the engagement of senior and middle managers, successful adoption of Lean and Six Sigma across the organization is a difficult task to achieve.

  2. You are better off to start with Lean and Six Sigma Champions to show the way:

    Most of the time, implementation of any new methodology or a framework’s success depends on how and with whom it starts with. In organizations around the world, there will be few who are keener on trying out new ideas and ways to work than others. Rather than spending your precious time and energy on skeptics or disbelievers, it is best to start with only a handful of people who will lead and take charge of Lean and Six Sigma implementation and show how it can add value to their work. When people around them become curious of their day-to-day routine, the word will spread in a positive manner through internal champions’ networks.

  3. Identify high profile and quick win projects to implement Lean and Six Sigma:

    Not only you have to go with a top-down approach by starting with only a handful of senior and middle managers who can be champions, but also to pick the right projects that support organizational business strategies. In fact, you need to pick projects that are endorsed by senior and middle management that addresses what people care passionately about bring quick results. This increases the overall confidence in Lean and Six Sigma approach and will find widespread acceptance in the organization.

  4. Acknowledge the fact that there will be cultural differences while adopting Lean and Six Sigma:

    Every organization has its own unique culture, and experts believe that cultures differ between various geographical regions and different kinds of organizations such as MNC, local, corporate, small or medium, public, private and government so on. It is better to avoid assumptions towards how Lean and Six Sigma needs to be adopted and also the use of jargons unless that is what the organization wants. By doing this, there will be seamless implementation and integration of Lean and Six Sigma methodology between both the entities.

  5. Having a right measurement system in place:

    Organizations first need to understand that things which cannot be measured cannot be improved. By having proper measurement system in place, practitioners can decide on baseline performance and use the data to make informed decisions. And when people understand the potential of Lean and Six Sigma, there will be rapid improvement of projects. Also by encouraging participants to define both tangible and intangible measures one can monitor the impact of their improvements and keep a database which will help in communicating the success to the organization.

  6. Having continual communication to engage wider audience:

    In an organization there can never by enough communication. There should be varied communication channels to – receive information and comprehend it in a way that the recipient will be able to reflect and act upon it. Having open communication channels in an organization is an important aspect to complete Lean and Six Sigma projects on time. On many occasion addressing a small group or having a face-to-face communication for discussion of important things is more effective than mass e-mail communications. In fact, many organizations today are using local displays with regular updates on work progress and visual summaries of future plans or targets will help in better engagement of workforce.

  7. Creation of communities or forums to sustain progress of Lean and Six Sigma in an organization:

    In today’s organization, knowledge management plays a key role in sustaining the development / improvement of critical business processes through Lean and Six Sigma methodologies. Knowledge management techniques play a vital role in ensuring Lean and Six Sigma practitioners learn from each other’s experience, regularly improve their skills with regards to Lean and Six Sigma principles and tools used in an organization.

Lean and Six Sigma have provided immense benefits for organizations around the world. In fact, Lean and Six Sigma when used in tandem have proven to be more successful, as both the methodologies complement with each other really well. Six Sigma eliminates defects and waste from processes and Lean streamlines the processes. Both Six Sigma and Lean have the same goal, but take different approaches to achieve the end objective of eliminating waste and create the most efficient system possible from where enterprises can offer quality services.

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Diego Rodriguez works as a Six Sigma Black Belt professional for a leading manufacturing company. He possesses ample experience in various aspects of quality management, such as Lean, Six Sigma, Root Cause Analysis, Design Thinking, and more. His primary focus is to conduct tests and monitor the production phase and also responsible for sorting out the items that fail to meet the quality standards. Diego’s extensive work in the field has resulted in being an honorary member of quality associations globally. His areas of research include knowledge management, quality control, process design, strategic planning, and organizational performance improvement.


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