Zero To Success in 60 Days of Less: How to Build a Successful Lean Six Sigma Program From the Ground Up (Part IV – Moving up to the Big Table)

thanksgivingtableI am guessing that for those of you who have put a Point Kaizen initiative into play that some really good opportunities for improvement have been brought to light and put into operation. I am also hoping that through your Point Kaizen initiative you have established three distinctions for your new LSS program.

First off, I am hoping you have established some legitimacy through some wins that were not only quick but provided distinct benefits to your organization. Your team has established its legitimacy to both senior management through the delivery of financial results and to process owners and executors who have been relieved of the burdens of wastes and inefficiencies.

Secondly you have positioned your team as thought leaders. Your team is now being sought for advice on improvement endeavors that extend outside the bounds of Point Kaizens. Your team is now “in the know”, lending its expertise in relevant areas of the organization – both in your original “vanguard” department as well as others who now attest to the benefits of the Point Kaizen initiative. In regards to leadership, you have also built a nice catalog of “business partners”. These are the folks who have excelled in coming up with creative improvement opportunities and/or shown their tenacity for getting things accomplished. You will find yourself going to this rolodex of names of the leaders with or without authority who you can rely on as allies in your future campaigns. Don’t ever take it for granted.

Third, you have instigated the move towards a continuous improvement culture. Your improvement leaders will begin to turn to the tools you have put in play without prompting. They will seek out more training for both themselves and their subordinates. They will see LSS as an opportunity instead of a mandated nuisance.

Although there is some interest by senior management in your Point Kaizen initiative, they probably aren’t as “all-in” as you would expect. Of course there has to be some interest based on the fact that operating costs have been reduced, productivity has been improved or cash flow has been accelerated. The reason why your program hasn’t earned you a seat at the “big folks table” yet is because the Point Kaizen program as discussed in this blog delivers ad hoc improvements that do not necessarily correlate to the majority of the company’s strategic objectives.

Staying true to the premise of this series, your company is probably struggling with its execution of strategy. Sure your company’s mission statement and vision have been crafted, vetted over, re-crafted and discussed during an off-site only to be re-crafted again, but that’s probably where it ended. If you are lucky you may have a few KPI’s thrown together and bunch of “whats” that need to get done, but not too many “hows”. What you need to do is leverage your newly-coined legitimacy to move your team toward servicing the strategic needs of senior management. There are plenty of resources out there to tell you how to do that. The only issue with them is that they all take the steps of taking your team from zero to sixty for granted. You did the heavy lifting for yourself. Congratulations. Now go move some more mountains.


About Russ Sacks

Russ is the current Managing Director of Exceptional Outcomes. He has over twenty years of experience in the areas of operations research, process excellence and software development. Russ has worked with organizations such as United Technologies, Allied Signal, GM and NASA in implementing computer aided optimization and continuous improvement methods. Russ is a certified Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt, and has worked in the area of process excellence in both the healthcare and information technology industries. Russ holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Union College, a Master of Science in Management from University of Maryland University College and a Master of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Vermont.
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