Training Lean Six Sigma Tools and Techniques…more than a ‘tick in the box’!
Kevin Wiltshire, Senior Consultant of Renault-Nissan Consulting, reflects on Lean Six Sigma Tools and Techniques.
“So”, the boss said “how was the training? I said “the lunch was great!”
“Thank goodness that conversation is over – I don’t want the boss thinking I’m going to do anything with all this theoretical Lean Six Sigma stuff; wouldn’t know what to apply it to anyway, if I’m honest”.
Ever been there and done that? Have you got the tee shirt? Sometimes doubt the value of training participation? Stuck for ideas about application of the tools and skills?
The best hope of getting a meaningful result and return from your training investment, we feel, is to do your utmost to have an improvement project identified and allocated to each of your training nominees prior to participating in the training.
It would be disingenuous to suggest that every one of our training delegates come with a project established and ready to go – but it certainly helps when they do.
Let’s just reflect then on what a project might look like to fit with the content and tools introduced during our range of LSS training programmes available:
SPOT Problem Solving – a root cause problem solving technique underpins this dynamic 1 day programme designed to help put in place a permanent improvement solution to real work-based challenges. Delegates should arrive with a problem in mind to solve, and generally leave the programme with the kernel of a real solution formulated for deployment shortly after the training programme.
Yellow Belt – This 2 day training programme equips delegates to undertake (typically) rapid improvement projects with a probable time-span of a month or so. Back in the workplace, after an initial Intensive Improvement Discussion at project start, the improvement project team would investigate and agree potential improvement solutions. A measurable result would be expected within an overall 1 month project timescale.
Green Belt – Being provided with a more extensive improvement toolkit during this 5 day programme, Green Belt trained team members would be involved in projects spanning a period of 3 to 6 months typically. Using a DMAIC based structure, supported by an Excel LSS Toolkit provided as part of the programme, Green Belt ‘graduates’ would be looking to deliver a more significant result back in your business, generally supported by Yellow Belt trained team members as available.
Black Belt and (Green Belt to Black Belt Conversion) – If you are undertaking this programme, you will already be familiar with the less intensive methodologies detailed above. Be prepared to have a project in mind / to hand which will demand extensive analysis and deployment taking, perhaps, greater than a year to deliver a result. Often people who need training at this level are those facing a problem that they only feel as a symptom – ‘customer satisfaction is in decline’, ‘scrap costs have increased’ etc., Consequently, the actual details of the problem (Scope, Goals, Problem Statement etc.) have yet to be defined and the solutions are therefore completely unknown!. Black Belt grads would provide you with significant in-house improvement capabilities to both carry out dedicated projects, and also manage other Belt resource.
When selecting a training partner, don’t accept the ‘box tick’ approach. Prepare your delegates to participate with real projects in mind, and follow up with questions which move beyond the quality and quantity of the lunch provided. Expect your provider to offer training programmes with the flexibility for actual discussions about actual projects, supported by the theory required.
Taking your people out of their day-to-day roles can be logistically challenging at the best of times. Compensate for that by doing your best to ensure that you enjoy a return on investment based on measurable project returns!