How do you do it?

Do you want to know how to complete your Six Sigma project planning stages quickly? As deployment leaders of Lean and 6 Sigma projects, my colleagues and I have witnessed that about 65% of Six Sigma projects fail to complete. We have also found that Lean Kaizen (3 to 5-day) projects have a greater rate of completion than Six Sigma project tools. The question we had was “Why?”.

In most cases, when a Six Sigma project tool fails it is because of scoping issues and weak infrastructures. But there are also deeper issues. In organizations with a strong foundation for both Lean and 6 Sigma projects, there are still deltas between the completion rates for Six Sigma projects and Lean projects.

The answer to our question was “lack of focus.” The format for most Six Sigma project planning does not promote what we call “hyper-focus” on the problem. Let’s discuss the difference in formats between a typical Lean project and a typical Six Sigma project.

A Lean Kaizen event is normally a 3 to a 5-day event focused on the “problem.” A misconception about Lean Kaizen events is that they only take place in 3 to 5-day events. A well-facilitated Kaizen actually starts well before the 3 to the 5-day event (this is called Day 0) and may take 30 to 90 days after the event (following the “30-Day Plan”). The difference in Lean events from the typical Six Sigma project is the 3 to 5 days of “Hyper-Focus.”

A Six Sigma project normally takes 3 to 6 months to complete. The project team consisting of Change Agents (Green/Black Belts) meets twice a week for 1 to 2 hours to discuss project progression. As with most meetings, people come unprepared or with their attention focused on other things. Tasks are pushed off to the next meeting. The Change Agents and SMEs are only focused on the problem for short intervals throughout the week.

We have found that the typical Six Sigma format lacks a certain span of time for the team to be “hyper-focused” on the problem. We then asked the question, “Can a Six Sigma project stage fit into the Kaizen format?” The answer was “Yes!”

This led us to develop the Lean and Six Sigma Jumpstart Event which is a “hyper-focused” event that encompasses both Lean and Six Sigma. This is not the same exact format as a Lean Kaizen event, but it follows the same basic premise. The Six Sigma Jumpstart basic format is below:

Day 0

  • This is to start the Define Phase of the Lean and Six Sigma project stage (starts 4 weeks prior to the event)

Session #1

of the Lean and Six Sigma 5-Day Jumpstart – Day 1 – 2 ½ – This is the first 2.5 days of the 5-day event (Normally Monday 8 am – Wednesday 12 pm)

  • This is to complete the Define Phase and to start the Measure and Analyze Phase
    •  Complete the SIPOC with the SMEs
    •  Complete the Value Stream Map (if needed)
    •  Employ other Lean tools if needed (Spaghetti Map, QFD, etc.)
    •  Perform MSA’s
    •  Perform Initial Capability Analysis
    •  Complete the Process Map with the SMEs
    •  Complete the Variables Map, C&E Matrix and FMEA
    •  Perform Multi Vari Analysis, Hypothesis Testing, and other statistical tools to determine the KPIVs
    •  Six Sigma Project Planning for Session #2 of the Lean and Six Sigma Jumpstart

Four week intermission between Session #1 and Session #2

  •  Complete any Quick Wins
  •  Gather and Analyze further data if needed
  •  Perform MSA’s on updated measurements
  •  Develop a pilot test for the improvement

Session #2

of the Lean and Six Sigma 5-Day Jumpstart – Day 2 ½ – 5 – This is the first 2.5 days of the 5-day event (Normally Monday 8 am – Wednesday 12 pm)

  •  Complete DFMEA (Risk Management of the Improvement)
  •  Complete the improvements that are applicable within the 5-week timeframe
  •  Collect data from the improved process
  •  Perform updated Capability Analysis
  •  Develop the “30-Day Plan”
  •  Develop the Stakeholder Report Out
  •  The team gives the Report Out to the Stakeholders on the Last hour of the event (normally 11 pm-12 pm on Wednesday)

My colleagues and I use this format with groups of 3-5 Lean and Six Sigma Practitioners or Potential Lean and Six Sigma Green Belts (students). The two 2 ½ day sessions allow my colleagues and me to work with two groups (Group #1 on Monday 8 am – Wednesday 12 pm and Group #2 on Wednesday 1 pm – Friday 5 pm).

These Jumpstart Sessions can be very successful if performed correctly under a strong infrastructure. The hyper-focused time on the opportunity does not allow for teams to get distracted. The Stakeholder Report with Bosses, VPs, Colleagues, and other Peers is a motivator to maintain focus on the opportunity.

If you would like a more detailed agenda for the Lean and Six Sigma project tools Jumpstart Event, please email Kevin Clay at [email protected]. If you have any questions about the event, Contact Us.

Have you had experience with Lean and/or Six Sigma Projects that stalled indefinitely? What was the reason?