This month’s common traps come from the Direction
Setting stage of an LSS/HPO effort. Material is selected
from pages 219-220 in Integrating Lean Six Sigma and
High-Performance Organizations. The book contains more
common traps for this stage, as well as common traps for
each of the other stages.
Trap #1. Assuming there has been enough communication.
Trap #2. Selecting a bad portfolio of projects
for the first wave.
Trap #3. Selecting only Black Belts who have
old values and an old results orientation.
Trap #4. Not publicly demonstrating senior management
is on board.
Trap #5. Targeting only production operations
in the first wave.
Trap #1. Assuming there
has been enough communication.
Members of the workforce are busy doing “their real
job” and often screen out transformation messages.
Research shows that important messages need to be communicated
five to eight times before the receiver hears them.
Trap #2. Selecting a bad
portfolio of projects for the first wave.
To build LSS/HPO momentum it is critical that the first
set of improvement projects yields significant gains in
increased profits, decreased cycle time, or improved quality.
Some quick results are highly desirable. Top leaders must
ensure people aren’t funding their pet project or
just selecting projects that are “safe” with
low risk and returns. In addition to top managers’
reviewing potential projects, J. F. DeBetz, formerly a Six
Sigma leader at StorageTek (a $2 billion manufacturer of
storage devices) advises companies starting out to have
a finance person involved at the start and all the major
evaluation points along the way to assist in cost/benefit
Trap #3. Selecting only
Black Belts who have old values and an old results orientation.
The eyes of the organization are upon this first graduating
class of Black Belts. The not-so-subtle message to the organization
is “These people are examples of what the organization
values going forward.” Non-participative, command
and control Black Belts who bully their teams into producing
results in short time frames and provide no team recognition
or rewards send the absolute wrong message. Leaders need
to be cautious about selecting “successful”
people from the old environment who may not be able to exhibit
the new values and behaviors.
Trap #4. Not publicly demonstrating
senior management is on board.
The workforce needs to hear that senior management is 100
percent behind the new initiative. When General Electric
sent top executives to the “Green Belt for Champions”
program, it sent a strong message that Six Sigma was a new
part of the company’s business.
Trap #5. Targeting only
production operations in the first wave.
Often significant improvements are possible in non-production
work. Johnson & Johnson has been highly successful in
targeting marketing, sales, quality, documentation, environmental
monitoring, and facilities areas for Lean Six Sigma improvement.
Karl Schmidt, Vice President of Process Excellence for Johnson
& Johnson, reports that using Lean and Six Sigma methods
in pollution prevention yielded $87 million in 2000 and
in $55 million 2001. This was achieved through clearly defining
metrics, identifying areas of waste, and putting projects
in place to improve. These huge sums were not cost avoidance,
but hard dollar savings such as lower raw material costs.