Lean Six Sigma + Change Management = Success

Do I really need change management? It took me four weeks to learn the technical side of Lean Six Sigma (LSS). Now you’re saying I have to couple that with another methodology that is equally as broad and deep?

Short answer: Yep!

One important fact to know is this: It is one thing for you to own a shiny new treadmill.  It’s a whole other situation to get on that treadmill every morning and actually use it.

Have you ever seen a method like Lean Six Sigma (LSS) used to improve a process only to have people continue to do things the “old” way?  Across the world, LSS Black Belts and Green Belts deliver shiny new processes to seemingly eager organizations. Only, not everybody is getting on that process treadmill and riding it.

Black Belts spend hundreds of hours in training learning all the fancy techniques to isolate root causes and engineer stellar new business processes. They are lucky if they get even a half-day of training on how to change the daily behavior of dozens or hundreds of people who don’t report directly to them.

New process + no usage = lost investment.

In the new book, Driving Operational Excellence, I explore nine street-smart techniques to immediately boost the odds of getting your new process implemented by the people designated to do so by integrating simple change management tactics into your LSS method.  Here are a couple of tips to get you started:

Culture eats process for lunch:  If the process you are deploying is opposed to the organization’s culture, it’s likely to blow back in your face at 200 mph. I call this “cultural blowback.” It’s important to be able to use the correct tools to assess the current culture and describe the cultural attributes required to make your new process work.  This allows you to study the degree of overlap and take action on areas of contention prior to rollout. Being good at this tactic alone can put you in the 90th percentile of LSS practitioners.

Don’t let resistance go underground:  While you may never fully eliminate resistance to a major process change, it can be managed if you know about it and acknowledge it from the start. People resist new processes primarily due to willingness or ability issues. It’s often easier to address ability issues through communications, training, tools, etc. When it comes to willingness, rarely will someone say to your face, “I’m not going to follow your process.”  Instead, they nod politely and proceed to covertly “work around” the new process, sabotaging all of your efforts. When resistance goes underground in this way, it becomes much more difficult to handle. It’s important to start using appropriate techniques early on to prevent resistance from going covert.  Create and implement techniques that make it safe for people to provide feedback on the change that will affect them. Also ensure that all communication channels are two-way and include a clear feedback mechanism.

Whether you believe it or not, working on these two tips alone will put you in the front of the pack. Driving Operational Excellence and my free companion workbook take you through more detail in putting these techniques into action immediately and effectively.

Bottom line — Integration of sound change techniques into any LSS project significantly boosts your odds for success!

About the AuthorJeff Cole is a recognized consultant, author, and speaker specializing in improvement strategies.  He has helped clients across multiple industries improve their operational efficiencies and bottom lines.

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