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Before my first book, Maximizing Lean Six Sigma (West Bow Press, 2013), was published, I’d begun work on a second book, which details a new approach to lean Six Sigma called FUSE—for formulate, understand, synthesize, and execute. It’s an approach that enables organizations to maximize enterprise performance with the least amount of friction to continuously learn, improve, and innovate.
The FUSE framework’s first phase has three key activities: education; values, beliefs, culture, and attitudes; and formulating a plan. In this article, I will explain, in part, the first activity: education.
When deploying the FUSE model, we begin with educating senior management on what FUSE is, what it is not, and how this approach closes many gaps that have prevented the optimum use of lean Six Sigma. Below are questions and answers to have ready when discussing the FUSE approach with any management member within the organization.
Q1: What is FUSE?
Q2: How is FUSE different from lean Six Sigma?
FUSE, on the other hand, works to optimize the interrelationships between all parts of an enterprise, to instill trust, and create an environment of continuous learning, improvement, and innovation. FUSE considers the views of employees, leaders, suppliers, business owners, stakeholders, and partners because each of these entities plays a key role in the overall performance of any organization.
FUSE helps establish a trust-centric environment so that performance improvement can be achieved with the least amount of resistance and friction. Building trusting relationships is something organizations using the FUSE model do consistently—not just when a project is initially implemented.
Q3: How does critical thinking lead to innovation?
Q4: How long does it take to fully implement FUSE?
The benefits of implementing FUSE, however, are worth it. Having every employee focused on a shared vision, common principles, and working hand in hand with management, suppliers, and customers in total trust means much less effort in dealing with issues that suboptimize performance and consume much of the organization’s resources. Every effort of building trust into relationships means a greater probability of success and longevity.
Once you have your management team excited and willing to deploy this new approach, it’s time to start peeling back the layers of the enterprise to see how well they are currently holding together. The goal during the preliminary discussions will be to confirm the following:
1. If the organization has a mission, vision, values, and strategies
2. Senior management’s interpretation of its mission, vision, values, and strategies
3. If the organization’s mission statement reflects those of the organization’s core business
4. If the vision statement is inspiring, energizing, and memorable. Does it say something about the company: its operating environment, what makes it different, and what its leaders aspire for it to be. Does the vision statement paint a clear picture of future goals?
5. If the mission and vision statements have been clearly communicated to all employees
6. If employees are reminded frequently of the company’s mission and vision. Are these reminders communicated through various means? Various means could include the company’s website, its newsletters, town-hall meetings, marketing material, strategic and operating plans, and company announcements.
7. If there are any signs, garnered through speaking with management and staff, that management does not exemplify its values. Does management walk the walk?
8. If there are any values that conflict with other values listed by the organization
9. If the values are integrated with the company’s HR strategies such as hiring and compensation
10. If the company’s strategies are linked to its operational plans
11. If the company’s strategies have clear objectives, key performance indicators, and performance targets as well as an executive accountable for meeting those targets
12. If the company’s strategies are integrated with the day-to-day activities that employees conduct
Validating each of these 12 items will help you determine the next steps—if you need to work with senior management to develop a mission and vision statement, for example, or develop strategies or align the strategies to day-to-day activities.
Normally at this point, practioners of lean Six Sigma will be tempted to develop (if one does not exist) a balanced scorecard that defines strategic objectives across four key perspectives of an organization: finance, business process, customers, and learning growth. Within FUSE, however, it’s important to first identify the beliefs, attitudes, and values of employees and managers, and then validate whether management and employees share the same interpretation of the vision, mission, and values. Once you are able to come up with a common vision that everybody understands, you can start to integrate something like a balanced scorecard to ensure alignment of your strategic objectives with your performance improvement projects.