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Author: Mike Titchen

Creating Sustainable Benefits in Lean Six Sigma using Change Management Process Using Change Management Process to achieve sustainable benefits in a Lean Six Sigma deployment Many companies struggle to get good traction with their Lean Six Sigma deployments. They spend time training Six Sigma Green Belts and Six Sigma Black Belts and launch an initial set of projects only to find that very few of the projects actually get completed, and that even fewer are able to create truly sustainable benefits. Why is this and how can it be prevented?

The main reason for these issues of traction is that those responsible for the deployment (or perhaps the General Leadership within the Company) fail to take account of the fact that introducing Lean Six Sigma is a major change for a Company, and that to be successful Change Management techniques need to be employed.

Jack Welch, who introduced Lean Six Sigma into General Electric (GE), was well aware of this fact and utilized a GE programme called 'Change Acceleration Process', or CAP for short, to manage the Change Management side of the deployment.

One of the key concepts of CAP is the E=Q*A equation, where 'E' stands for 'The effectiveness of any change programme', 'Q' stands for the 'Technical Quality' of the programme, and 'A' stands for the 'Organisational Acceptance' of the programme.

Now imagine we were to mark both the 'Q' side and the 'A' side of a deployment with scores ranging between 1 and 10. Since the overall effectiveness of the programme 'E' is the product of both 'Q' and 'A', then it is clear that we need to get good scores for both to be truly effective (a score of at least 60), and obtain the traction required to achieve a sustainable Lean Six Sigma programme.

Most of us in the Lean Six Sigma community, being the type of people that we are, will ensure that the 'Technical Quality' of our Lean Six Sigma training is high. This can be achieved by utilizing a recognized deployment model from a selection of the well known consultancy companies, and so we should easily obtain an 8 or more score for the 'Q' side of the equation. How many of us could put our hand on our hearts and say, however, that we deserve such a high score for the 'A' side of the equation? Thus if we can only truly deserve a 2 or 3 for 'Organisational Acceptance' then it is not surprising that we struggle to get traction (as the equation would predict - 8*3=24).

Some organizations don't help the Belts with really good Six Sigma Champions and Process Owners, fail to free them up to spend the time they need on their projects, don't ensure that the correct systems and structures are in place to support them, and then complain when the belts fail to deliver!

So important was Change Management to Jack Welch that he urged those engaged in change within his company to spend 50% of their time on 'A' side activities. Yes - you did hear that right - 50%. Now GE's CAP programme had a whole bunch of propriety tools to assist the change agents achieve a good 'A' score, but there are many other tool sets you can use.


Goals - define and communicate a common vision and objective for the programme

Process - develop an implementation plan, tools, milestones, and determine how to measure results

Organisation - implement an organizational structure to support people/skills as mapped to processes and goal

People - training, motivation, career planning & communication

Rewards - plans to recognize success and learn from failure

Such a model will help ensure you consider all the vital elements, but never underestimate the time and effort that will be required to ensure you obtain the high 'A' score vital for a successful deployment.

What if you are already within a deployment and suffering from a lack of traction? Well it's never too late to start addressing the Organisational Acceptance element of a deployment. Take a sounding of the gripes of the Belts, the workers and the management and put a plan together to address the issues.

And remember that sending out a bunch of unsupported BB's and GB's into an environment that has not been property prepared is about as effective as sending the troops into 'no mans land' to face the machine guns. Always consider the need for 'Change Management' unless you're happy to risk your Belts being shot down.

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About the Author

Mike is a highly experienced MBB and has worked in both manufacturing and financial services industries, teaching all Six Sigma courses including Six Sigma Yellow Belt and Six Sigma Green Belt. Mike also works with many individuals on Six Sigma Certification


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