Why Lean Six Sigma Deployment Fail?
Over the course of many years helping organisations deploying Lean and / or Six Sigma Programme, I would like to highlight the reasons on why such Programme fails. Typically, there are 5 key success factors which need to be in place to drive the right change – otherwise the deployment Programme will not last long.
One would expect when Lean or Six Sigma Programme was announced, the very top leadership will be on top of this, if not making it one of his KPI. Many times this initiative is locally driven by the function level or in a matrix organisation – only at that respective business unit. The initiative is very defragmented hence to the rest of the organisation, this will sound confusing
When Jack Welch announced Six Sigma in 1990s, he gets EVERYONE in GE conglomerate to be trained in Six Sigma concept and tools (that’s close to 300,000 employees!). Once everyone gets to be equipped with the skillset, it becomes easier for everyone to speak in the right ‘language’. Otherwise if only a selected pool of people are equip with such skills, the rest who are forcefully being told to be involved in Six Sigma projects, they will have feeling of anxiety – worry or fear to get involve. To date, GE still very active in their Six Sigma Programme and is one of the successful entity that can sustain it
In any change management Programme (Lean Six Sigma deployment is one example), behaviour change from employees is one of the hardest to achieve. At one education institution that Neville Clarke helped to assist, they never lack the pool of workforce and even process improvement projects in the pipeline to join their internal Green Belt Programme. This is because they have an attractive reward for those who can successfully complete their Green Belt projects. Each project team will be rewarded 4% of the hard savings achieved (capped at a maximum amount) which will be pay out within the next 2 years after the project completion. They even create an internal platform for the successful projects to be presented at their yearly conference. The best projects will then be given opportunity to be submitted to the regional and international conferences if it meets certain standards. Company can expect a very slow start to the behaviour change of no incentives is put in place
We often think of resources as being financial. However, from the author’s observation, most organisations would need to invest not just their budget but also man days for the employees to be trained and getting involved in process improvement projects. Right experts such as consultants need to be rope in to coach the project teams and also to provide advisory services to the senior management in strategizing their Lean Six Sigma initiative. A full time hire may be required too like a Master Black Belt to help managing this Programme. All this may sound expensive, but with the right strategy, the payback from the perpetual continuous improvement projects’ cost savings can be gained back within 2 to 3 years. If the organisation lacks the above resources, you can expect deep frustration from employees in running this Programme
5. Action Plan
There’s a famous quote which is wrongly attributed to Albert Einstein “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. That quote is very relevant when organisation doesn’t provide the right milestones and how to get there. You can expect a lot of false starts in kick starting this Programme. With the help of Master Black Belt or consultant, clear roadmap can be charted on how to get the Lean Six Sigma Programme can be deploy out. P/S: That famous quote is rightfully belongs to Rita Mae Brown, an American writer (Sorry Einstein)