As we know, in addition to the investment in training the belts, a lot of management time and thinking goes into committing to a Lean Six Sigma program. One thing that causes considerable agony along the way is the slow progress of the projects especially the first wave of projects and this could impair enthusiasm. From a senior management perspective, this impacts overall ROI of the program. Below is a list of things that a senior management team will do well to drive and accelerate the velocity of the projects through the journey.
- Validated Projects Hopper: In order to avoid multiple start-stop situations or time wasted finding the trained resources, their projects to work on, it is advisable to set up a robust process for adding projects to a hopper with reasonable due diligence on each to ensure the right projects are picked up to be worked upon ensuring a higher return per project. Senior Management must invest time and effort in ensuring they themselves have adequate skill in identifying projects based on the strategic business drivers.
- Validated pipeline of potential belt candidates: Quite often we see a last minute scramble to find and put people on a scheduled Green or Black Belt training. If the people so selected then can’t be assigned to the projects due to a number of reasons ranging from availability to skills set to any a number of others, the organisation suffers to get the projects going and have wasted time and money on the wrong individuals. Human resources department usually come very late to the party if at all to help identify such individuals. Our experience is that maintaining a list of potential individuals with full consultation with line management and HR/ talent management and the concerned individual goes a long way in obviating the risks of ‘square pegs and round holes.’
- Data preparation: Another major obstacle to progress of projects is availability of data and while each project will need to grapple with this for itself, senior management teams must invest time and effort in organising the macro data and information structures in their organisation. This not only aids swift project selection but significantly cuts implementation time.
- Sponsors and Tollgates: Quite often we see a small number of key individuals sponsoring a majority of the projects. In time, they not only become a bottleneck to the process, the whole initiative becomes centered on them. What is needed is a broad base of sponsors for the projects who have at least been trained to Executive Awareness level in Lean Six Sigma and who actively carry out tollgate reviews for their projects. Lack of sponsorship and progress checks through tollgates end up stalling projects.
- Coaching and mentoring: Even when we get the right belts, the right projects and the sponsors, making sure that active and continuous coaching and mentoring is available to the belts and the sponsors is critical to seeing the projects through. In the absence of this, it could well present a situation of ‘the blind leading the blind.’
None of the above is new knowledge but experience tells us that lack of the above drivers frustrate the progress of the projects and are entirely in the hands of the management team to make happen. A little preparation will go a long way in ensuring efficient delivery of projects.