Our Executives are “Too Busy” for Lean Six Sigma Training

“If they support the effort, do they really need the training?”

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this when discussing a Lean Six Sigma deployment proposal. This is the first clue that the company’s efforts will most likely fail.

I also hear other excuses for not formally training the executives like:

  • “One of our executives is a “Black Belt” and will support our efforts so we don’t see the need to educate the other executives”
  • “I have been chosen by our company to champion the efforts and report to the executives so we don’t really need executive training”
  • “We have given the executives a brief (less than 1 hour) overview of Lean Six Sigma so we can skip the executive training”

Key Metric for Success

My team has one key metric to gauge the success of a deployment and that metric is the engagement of the Company Leaders. The more the leaders are engaged, supportive, and accountable the better the chance of a sustainable deployment.

What the Failure will look like

When executives do not “buy-in” to a Continuous Improvement Program and are not educated as to their role in Continuous Process Improvement, what is the result?

  • “Turf Wars” – When executives do not see a Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) program as important, the leader’s agendas will take precedence. When a Belt is engaged in solving a process problem and that problem impedes a leader’s agenda, the company leader will trump the Continuous Process Improvement project. If the leaders go through an effective “Executives Training” they will learn that each Continuous Process Improvement project is prioritized to the company’s metrics of success (or KPIs). When the leader impedes a Continuous Process Improvement project they are impeding the improvement of KPIs.
  • “Sub Optimization” – When executives do not see “Executive Training” as important, they will not know how to identify Continuous Process Improvement projects. I have been in countless companies that have “Green Belts” and “Black Belts” that become the “new toys” to the company leaders. Projects are arbitrarily identified by the leaders based on where the present “pain” is experienced. Unfortunately, that “pain” in most cases is not a constraint in the overall system. The Belt may solve the problem in that step of the process but in the overall system, there is no improvement to the company’s ability to produce.

An example of sub-optimization:

executive training

These affects (“Turf Wars” and “Sub Optimization”) quickly lead to the failure of a Continuous Process Improvement Program.

The Executive Training is the corner stone of the foundation for a sustainable Continuous Process Improvement Program. Without bought in and educated company leaders, the efforts will quickly lose focus when there is little ROI.

Do you belong to a company that has Change Agents (i.e. Green Belts, Black Belt, etc.) with company leaders that have not bought into the Continuous Process Improvement program? If so, tell us your story in the comments below. Are there other effects of not buying in?