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Top 5 Common Mistakes in Lean Six Sigma Projects and their Solutions

Top 5 Common Mistakes in Lean Six Sigma Projects and their Solutions
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Top 5 Common Mistakes in Lean Six Si...

This article explains the top 5 common mistakes in Lean Sigma projects and their solutions. Let’s learn from other people’s mistakes and how to avoid them. This video also introduces templates and videos made in the past that can be used as solutions.

Common mistakes in Lean Six Sigma projects

Hi, this is Mike Negami, Lean Sigma, Black Belt.

Today‘s theme is from this video request.

Common Mistakes Video Request

“Excellent video, great summary. It would be helpful to upload videos about common mistakes implementing LSS projects, thanks!”

Thank you, Diego for your request.

First of all, Lean Sigma is a method for improving business operations in a project framework and increasing the probability of success.

But unfortunately, you can’t always be 100% successful, so today we’ll learn from other people’s failures and talk about how to avoid those. I wanted to explain using a little statistical reasoning, so I decided to do it this way:

  1. I searched for “common mistakes in lean six sigma” in Google, then, I selected the top 10 ranked articles.
  2. I aggregated all mistakes written about in each article.
  3. From that, I made the Top 5 common mistakes ranking.
LSS Common Mistakes Selection Method

You may say, “You got this info just from online?” The articles that enter the top 10 in Google are often very good articles. Since those top 10 articles are pointing out the top 5 project mistakes, those mistakes are really common and that you should aware of.

#1: Lack of commitment and strong involvement of senior management (10 articles)

I’ll start from the first ranked common mistake. That is “Lack of commitment and strong involvement of senior management.” All 10 articles pointed it out.

A project team is process improvement professionals and they are gathered for a project. However, they are not the managers of the employees whose process they are making improvements on, so they don’t have line authority over the employees.

Furthermore, their project will design a new process and they typically ask the employees to do a new way of working. However, people don’t like change. There is always resistance from the employees and their bosses.

Therefore, getting support from senior management is critical, and the more commitment and involvement from them you get, the higher the probability of project success.

What we as a process improvement professionals can do is ‘Stakeholder Management’. I made a template and video about that. From this, you can solve the issue by putting all stakeholders, including senior management, on your side and succeed your project. ⇒ “How to Conduct Stakeholder Management (Registration, Analysis, Execution) 【Excel template】”

#2: Wrong deployment strategy (8 articles)

The second common mistake is “Wrong deployment strategy.” 8 articles wrote about it. “Deployment Strategy” is a phrase often used in Lean Sigma.

Lean Sigma projects are usually not just about improving a single process, they also include a deployment strategy to spread Kaizen culture throughout the company.

If the deployment strategy does not match the company’s direction or is not fully understood by executives and employees, the project will fail.

So, the solution for that is to first understand the company direction and strategy well, then decide how to use Lean Sigma in alignment with the strategy and then, make a deployment strategy.

Another solution for this is to incorporate the PDCA cycle into the improvement project and within the deployment strategy. It’s important to check whether it’s performing as planned at each milestone and make corrections as needed.

#3: Wrong project selection (7 articles)

The next is “Wrong project selection.” 7 articles pointed this out. If you do this, your project will usually fail.

Even if a project is completed, the project itself fails if it is not the solution to the company’s issues or is not related to strategy.

The solution to this problem is of course to select the right project, but it’s necessary to clarify the strategic issues of the company and select an effective project to solve them.

Also, you should make sure at the beginning that that project will improve company’s financials or improve customer satisfaction.

At that time, it’s better to set numerical targets that determine the success or failure of the project as much as possible although it may be difficult for service operation improvement projects.

I made a video and template with which you can make an effective project selection using VOC: Voice of customer. ⇒ “Lean Six Sigma has to start from Voice of Customer: VOC【Excel Template: VOC Matrix Diagram】”

#4: Lack of training for employees (5 articles)

The fourth common mistake is “Lack of training for employees.” 5 articles pointed this out.

As mentioned earlier, a new work flow is made in the improvement project, so it’s necessary to train employees in the operations well. If you fail to do this, not only will it cause confusion, but it will also reduce employee morale and reduce confidence in project outcomes.

The solution to this is to create SOP’s (Standard Operating Procedures) for the new operations and train your employees accordingly. ⇒ “SOP 5 Steps: How to Make Standard Operating Procedures【Excel Template Practice】”

#4: Too much focus on training and certification (5 articles)

The next one, also 5 articles pointed out is, “Too much focus on training and certification,” which seems to be the opposite of the previous one “Lack of training for employees.”

Lean Sigma projects often include conducting Lean Sigma training and making in-house certification systems to nurture KAIZEN culture.

That’s very important, but it’s often the case that teaching Lean Sigma to managers and employees becomes their goal beyond the original process improvement.

The solution to this is the same as the previous “Wrong deployment strategy” solution, which is to make a solid plan first and then, execute it.

We’ve looked at the top five common Lean Sigma project mistakes. What we can learn from them is that Lean Sigma is a means, not a purpose. It’s important to have a solid strategy and use Lean Sigma effectively to achieve the company’s goal. Utilize this video’s content as an example of how not to be.

“See these other popular articles.”

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