Three Resolutions to Make You a Better Lean Six Sigma Practitioner

Author: Russ Aikman

Posted: January 2016

1) Resolve to teach others – There are many benefits to teaching others about Lean Six Sigma. It forces you to know enough about something to make it comprehensible. This is especially true when it is a technical concept or tool. As one of my college professors used to say ‘If you can’t explain it, you don’t really understand it.’ Teaching also improves your communication skills and allows you to perform one of the most fundamental roles of LSS practitioners: Knowledge Transfer. It increases your own retention of what is taught. And it is one of the ideas promoted in the article “Decoding the DNA of the Toyota Production System” by Spear & Bowen (HBR – SEP 1999) : Rule 4: Any improvement must be made in accordance with the scientific method, under the guidance of a teacher, at the lowest possible level in the organization.

2) Resolve to set aside time to focus – A major challenge for all of us in the 21st century is information overload: email, phone calls, text messages, social media, etc. To improve your effectiveness as an LSS practitioner, it is imperative that you schedule time weekly – or even better daily – to focus. Resolve to turn off your phone and email, lock your office, pull the shades and spend time thinking deeply about your challenges. Ideally you will apply the idea of standard work to your duties as a BB/GB by setting aside time daily (or weekly) for focused thinking. Each person must determine what time of day is best to do such focused thinking. For many of us the best time is early in the morning.The opposite of focused thinking is multitasking. There are many downsides to multitasking as outlined in this link.

3) Resolve to set aside time to learn – In Stephen Covey’s classic book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People the seventh habit is Sharpen the Saw. For LSS practitioners it is incredibly easy to get so busy in leading teams, teaching classes, and solving problems that we lose our edge in learning – much less applying – new tools and methods. There are way too many great books, articles, and websites on LSS to recommend any one. Still – here are some to consider for 2016:

a. The Progress Principleby Amabile & Amabile – Research-based insights and methods on motivating others (click here for the link)
b. Minitab web blog – Excellent articles on a variety of statistical tools and methods (click here for the link)
c. Shingo Prize winners for research – a long list, I suggest perusing this website and picking 2-3 to read in 2016 (click here for the link, then click on Research Award)

More about Russ Aikman:

Russ is the LSS Program Manager at TMAC, and started the program in 2003. He is a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt with over 30 years of experience working in a wide variety of industries, and with small firms up to Fortune 500 companies. He has taught dozens of LSS classes from Yellow Belt up to Master Black Belt. He has also coached hundreds of LSS practitioners on their projects and advised managers on their LSS program. Before joining TMAC he worked at George Group, the first firm to integrate Lean and Six Sigma.

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