Is My Organization Ready to Implement Lean Six Sigma?

By: SSCX – Six Sigma Indonesia Center of Excellence

Once you have decided to implement a quality program (e.g. Lean Six Sigma) within your business or organization, you will devote a lot of time and resources. Undertaking a program is a major organizational commitment that the success depends on many factors, such as the company’s culture, and top management involvement. Not all organizations are ready for such commitment. Here we share to you the key guidance to identify some of the successful deployment criteria, and form your own conclusions about your organizations readiness.

1. Analyze The Organization and Its Need For Quality Improvement
Before you go through further steps, you should understand your organization’s operations, how it functions in its environment, what its strengths and weaknesses are, and how it will be affected by proposed quality improvement changes in order to craft an effective implementation plan. If this first step is not sound, no amount of implementation know-how will help your organization achieve its goals.

Quality improvement change will not occur unless the forces driving it are stronger than those resisting it. By lifting these forces, you as a manager have a way to determine your organizations’ readiness for change.

Few tactics to be considered in the process as follow:

• Highlight the problems occur in the organization
• Finding evidence of repeated customer visible defects and complaints
• Calculate financial savings from reducing defects
• Quantify employee frustration with the current process
• Make information readily available
• Explain the quality improvement changes plans fully
• Make sure plans include benefits for end users and business
• Start small and simple
To assess this, Project Chartering would be the supporting tools for you in the data collection processes.

2. Create A Shared Vision and Common Direction
The next step is to unite your quality improvement vision behind the company central vision. This vision has to reflect the philosophy and values of the organization and should help it to articulate what it hopes to become. As implementers, you should “translate” the vision so that all employees will understand its implications for their own jobs, e.g. the expected organizational benefits, and the personal ramifications – whether positive or negative.

3. Create A Sense of Urgency
People will refuse to change if they do not see the necessary need of it. It’s going to be easier to convince if the company face bankruptcy. This will affect the pace of implementation that is either faster or slower than they believe necessary.

In Mikel Harry’s book, Six Sigma: The Breakthrough Strategy, show that Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, seriousness on implementing Six Sigma by keep informing employees that advancement into senior management positions would be dependent on whether they received Green Belt of Black Belt training prior to the beginning of 1998.

4. Ensure Management Buy-In
A change will possible get support if led from the top down, then the implementation will coming from bottom up. If the top management do not buy in and commit for quality improvement change, no one should expect the rest of the employees to do so. You as part of the process should empowered and given the knowledge and skills necessary to take action and improve their responsible work areas. Leadership from the top of the organization is necessary to define, prioritize and construct the Quality culture.

First step to do would be to educate, develop the understanding, and generate active support. This task entails you to have a comprehensive understanding of the concepts of Quality, your communication and persuasion skills.

5. Committed Resources
Each company will face different situation when implementing a quality program. To make the quality program work, management must commit early before the project running such as:
• Dedicated personnel to lead the projects and mentor others who are working to make process improvements
• Willingness to dedicate some percentage of the budget for process improvement projects with benefits will substantially exceed total costs, including training.
• Willingness to assign your best people for training (Black Belt candidates) for 2-3 full weeks of off-site training.
• Top management willingness to spare time for Six Sigma training, project reviews, and problem solving.
Employees and supervisors have learned that immediate business needs come before long-term solutions. Lean Six Sigma implementation requires a full commitment and dedication to focus on process improvement so that day-to-day problems are solved once and for all.

If your organization could meet those criteria, then the next steps would be specific in-depth Lean Six Sigma deployment program, focus on the recommendations, and the long term plan for the implementation.

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