When running a project, no one wants it to fail, obviously. The reason so much time goes into the planning process is to ensure that things will go well. When running a Lean Six Sigma (LSS) project, the whole purpose is to make a difference and improve on a process by identifying and solving existing problems.
People will always make mistakes, after all that is how we learn. However, it is important to try to minimalize the number of mistakes we make if we can and this is true in everyday life as well as when choosing a Six Sigma project. The actual choice of Lean Six Sigma project greatly affects your chances of success, so if you are a rookie you need to choose wisely.
There are a number of mistakes that people can make when choosing LSS projects and these are listed below; obviously they are best avoided if you can:
1. Not following the strategic direction of the organisation
It is crucial to make sure you choose a project for a process that the organisation is going to be fully behind. You do this by making sure you are fully aware of your organisation’s strategic objectives. You then make sure the Six Sigma project you choose is linked into these strategic objectives.
Choosing your project this way will also ensure that you get the project support you need from those sitting in the upper management levels, since they will recognise the importance of the project to their set objectives.
2. Not engaging the process owner
When you start a Six Sigma project, put simply, it is to improve a process. You therefore have to make sure the process owner is fully on board with the project. You need to make sure the project has been sold to them and they realise how it will help their process. If you do not do this, you may find they become obstructive and your access to the process will be limited.
If you get the process owner’s support, you will find the rest of the team involved in the specific process become much more cooperative and the chances of your project being a success will immediately improve.
3. Looking for a quick fix
You may come across colleagues or bosses who are having a bad month. For instance they may be really struggling to reach a certain KPI and worrying that they’re going to get in trouble. Hence they ask for a Six Sigma project, in order to get a short-term (or even possibly long-term) improvement so that their KPI struggle perhaps goes unnoticed.
Blip projects like these are best avoided because generally the problem is not a long-term issue and will clear up and go away before a Six Sigma project gets fully underway. In this manner your project is left high and dry and you’ve wasted a lot of time. You need to identify problems that have been ongoing for a longer period of time, not ones that appear to have only just cropped up.
4. Working without the support of a team
One of the most crucial things about running a successful Lean Six Sigma Project is that the project is run and operated by a team. When choosing your project you therefore need to make sure there is a team available, otherwise you run the real risk of failure. You need to make sure your team has the right levels of process and LSS knowledge, as well as the actual time to complete the project.
5. Too long a timescale
If you’re offered the chance to work on a Lean Six Sigma project but it appears that it may take a long time to deliver on, i.e. longer than a business quarter, it is best avoided in the state it currently is! The problem with too large a project is that focus is often lost over a longer period of time and other, more urgent events tend to get in the way of the successful completion of the project.
If you think a project is going to be too large, you should either avoid it and find another project or make the decision to break the project down into smaller and more manageable pieces, which can each be dealt with in a shorter timescale.
James writes for Sigma Pro. When not writing, he can often be found trying to avoid mistakes in other areas.
YouTube: Introduction to Six Sigma