Lean Six Sigma is for Everyone

Author: Rebecca Holmes

Posted: February 2021

Imagine you are getting on a roller coaster. You buckle your seatbelt in the car and the gears turn and start slowly moving you up a steep incline. Your adrenaline starts to build in your stomach and your heart starts racing. You are excited and terrified at the same time. You know what is coming, but are you prepared? As you climb higher and higher, the car slowly tips over the edge and stops. For a moment, you are suspended high above the world, looking down, and waiting with anticipation for the excitement to come.

            This was the feeling I had before starting my first week of Lean Six Sigma Green Belt training. Three emotions stood out the most. First, I was nervous because my background is not in manufacturing or engineering, but in public relations, communication, and marketing. Would I be able to understand the concepts taught? Second, I had some doubts about the course content being applicable to my job. Would I even be able to use the information? And finally, I was excited to learn from our incredibly knowledgeable staff and be able to share my experience with potential future students.

            First Impressions. My experience with the Green Belt class was much like a roller coaster. There were ups and downs during both weeks of class. Some concepts were easier to understand than others and there was an extensive amount of time spent with Excel, which I am still at the beginning stages of learning. However, no matter how complex the concepts taught, I felt the information was presented in a format that was easy for me to understand.  And I always felt comfortable asking questions of the instructors.

Being 100 percent online, it’s easy to turn your camera off and hide behind the veil of silence. However, when students were engaged and asked questions, everyone benefited. Having the willingness to learn and apply the tools within your organization is the best motivation to take the time to fully grasp what is being taught.

            Job Application. One of the biggest questions I had at the beginning of the class was, “Can I use this in my job where most of the work is administrative?” The answer: Absolutely. Early in the class we learned about three different project approaches: DMAIC Projects, Kaizen Events, and Quick Wins. The approach used depends on a number of factors including project scope, timeframe, and knowledge of the root cause / solution.

By taking this class, I noted quite a few Quick Wins that I could implement almost immediately to reduce time wasted and add value to certain areas. Some of these areas included invoicing, maintaining class records, and catering for in-person classes. This class taught me to look for solutions that benefited not only my job, but my organization. As I work towards my Green Belt certification, I am confident with the tools I learned and the coaching from my instructors that I will be able to complete an impactful project for TMAC.

            Instructor’s Impact. For my Green Belt class, I was taught by TMAC instructors Chris Meeks and Diana Martinez, Ph.D.  Both Chris and Diana are Master Black Belts with deep knowledge of the course content. Their knowledge is evident not only in their excellent teaching styles and presentation, but in the passion they express for the impact Lean Six Sigma can have on organizations and employees. Diana always started the class with a bright smile and a happy “Good Morning!” She loves statistics and her passion for the power of LSS was infectious. Both instructors made sure students were comfortable with the important concepts before moving on. They were always willing to go back and explain something in a different way if someone was not fully confident.

One of my favorite moments from the class involved Chris. In Week 1, we were introduced to the Sigma Station simulation. This simulation / business case study was used as a basis for many of the concepts taught and acts as a visual for process improvement. As we learned about the details of the business in Round 1 of the simulation we could clearly see that the process was in major need of an overhaul as there were many areas that were “non-value added.” There was a step in the process that halts almost all progress and creates a considerable amount of waste. So, when asked where should we reduce waste, what was the most common answer among students? Get rid of that guy.

Acting as the employer, Chris passionately said, “You’re coming into my company and telling me the way to make things better is to fire people? That’s not what I want to hear.” Changing back into instructor mode he said, “People always add value. Jobs are non-value added.

This was a defining moment for me in the class. I think it is easy to look at organizational functions, data, and statistics and forget about the people. People are what moves an organization forward. People prompt change and make improvements. People are what makes Lean Six Sigma possible. Our instructors know the power of the information, tools, and tactics we provide our customers and the major impacts it can have on organizations. This is a powerful mindset to have when looking to improve processes.

            Looking ahead and moving forward, Lean Six Sigma just makes sense to me. For the organization, processes can be streamlined, waste can be eliminated, variation reduced, and money saved. For the Green Belts, you leave class equipped with skills to make your job more efficient and to make a major impact on your organization. As I work towards my Green Belt Certification, I look forward to making effective changes that will benefit TMAC customers. If you have a desire to make your job more effective, save your organization money, and learn powerful problem-solving skills then attending a Lean Six Sigma class is for you.

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