Last week I was lucky enough to travel down to beautiful Stratford-upon-Avon and undertake a four-day Lean Six Sigma Green Belt training course.
After an introduction to the basics of Lean and Six Sigma the course followed the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve and Control) project roadmap, describing the different stages and the methodology that underpins them.
As there was only a small group of us, the training was relaxed and informal, allowing us to ask questions and discuss our own experiences freely. It was interesting to see that we had all experienced similar challenges when trying to implement process improvement changes and this encouraged us to discuss our different methods for avoiding or correcting these. The course was delivered largely via presentation with numerous group and individual activities that encouraged us to put the theories into practice.
We were extremely spoilt throughout the training with refreshments and two course lunches, my ham sandwich on Monday didn’t quite match up.
At first, I feared that we would not cover all the material as heavy emphasis was put on the first two stages (define and measure). After completing the course I understand that this was necessary as they are the two most important stages, when completing a successful improvement project.
Whilst in Stratford I could not resist going to see the Royal Shakespeare Company perform so I booked a ticket to see Love’s Labour’s Won for the Monday night. The theatre, play and the cast were absolutely brilliant, so much so that I went again on Thursday night to see Love’s Labour’s Lost.
It was pleasing to see that PIU are already following much of the methodology and techniques outlined, particularly from the Lean aspect. However it was very interesting to gain a greater understanding of Six Sigma methodologies and how the two compliment one another.
Key things I learnt:
- The importance of defining a project’s scope at the beginning in order to ensure that all involved understand and agree what part of the problem or process they are going to look at and why. It will also ensure that the problem is realistic and manageable with regards to the time frame and resources available. This will then allow you to understand what the project wants to achieve, what information you need, how customers will be affected and how we can measure the current state and any improvements.
- The course emphasised the importance of understanding and engaging all project stakeholders (anyone who might be affected by or may affect the project) right from the start to ensure project success and engagement. Engaging project stakeholders is not always straightforward. It is not always clear who the project stakeholders are and the importance of the project and suggested improvements is not always recognised. This is why it is important to carry out clear and concise communications with all potential stakeholders.
- Embedding change following a process improvement project is crucial to maintain and further improve the process. Encouraging everyone to openly discuss problems that have arisen and ideas for further improvement will reduce the tendency for individuals to self prescribe fixes to any problems that arise, preventing the formation of a non-standard process. Mapping out the new process, documenting the changes that have been made, including measures of success and checks to the new process and ideas for future improvements can help to achieve this.