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15 Ways to Maximize Lean Six Sigma Sustainability

When management support moves on, how do your efforts stay put?

Published: Tuesday, January 8, 2013 - 10:45

One of the most challenging issues I hear from people within the lean Six Sigma community is how to ensure that a lean Six Sigma project is sustainable. If your lean Six Sigma project is highly dependent on top leadership support to keep it going, there’s a risk of losing the focus and support when that leadership changes.

I have compiled a list of 15 methods you can use to improve the sustainability of your lean Six Sigma efforts:

1. Make lean Six Sigma less about projects and more about a way of operating and working.
2. Make education and communication a key priority when implementing lean Six Sigma.
3. Modify job descriptions to better reflect the lean Six Sigma focus and requirements.
4. Implement process owner and process manager models.
5. Integrate lean Six Sigma with your strategic, business, operating, and human resource plans.
6. Focus less on “belts” and more on operational excellence.
7. Align compensation and recognition (e.g., monetary and otherwise) with the lean Six Sigma objectives.
8. Make lean Six Sigma documents simple and easy to understand.
9. Make lean Six Sigma “town hall” and leadership summits a part of your regular organizational activities. These serve as forums for sharing best practices and new innovations.
10. Make continuous improvement part of everyone’s performance and training.
11. Make your lean Six Sigma organization an undeniable success.
12. Make your organization the “employer of choice” because of the way you have implemented lean Six Sigma.
13. Give all employees the tools they need to demonstrate—ideally through quantitative and qualitative measures—the positive contributions they made to the organization, its employees, customers, and stakeholders.
14. Make celebrating success a priority.
15. Cultivate an organization of learning, improvement, and innovation.

You will notice that nowhere in the 15 methods do I suggest to obtain management support, and there is a reason for this. When you are implementing lean Six Sigma for the first time, management support is critical; however, to sustain your efforts long after those managers leave the company, focusing on the success of the organization and its people should be one of the most important success factors to making lean Six Sigma stick.

What has been working for you to make lean Six Sigma “stick?”


About The Author

Kyle Toppazzini’s picture

Kyle Toppazzini

Kyle Toppazzini is the president of Toppazzini and Lee Consulting, and an international leader and consultant in lean Six Sigma. He is a certified balanced scorecard trainer and a lean Six Sigma Black Belt. He works with C-level executives to assist in developing and implementing process improvement strategies and transformations that result in faster, better, and more cost-effective delivery of services and products. Toppazzini’s Lean Six Sigma Challenge has appeared in more than 200 outlets, including Yahoo News, Business Week, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, and The Miami Herald. Contact him at Kyle.Toppazzini@TLeeCorp.com or tel. (613) 680–4333, ext. 2.