Don’t Neglect the Human Factor When Applying Lean Six Sigma

Ask those in the know and they’ll tell you that Lean Six Sigma increases revenue and reduces costs. However, they don’t always mention the positive impact it has on people.

While it’s important to train your team on the tools and techniques of LSS, it’s equally important to consider the human factor.

Resistance to Change

People doing things the way they’ve always done them. It’s an age-old problem. The if-it’s-not-broke-don’t-fix-it mentality often surfaces when organizations try something new. It’s no different with Lean Six Sigma. Therefore, the first stop when building a LSS culture is in addressing the resistance to change.

Jeffrey D. Ford and Laurie W. Ford suggest in their Ohio State University white paper, “Stop Blaming Resistance and Start Using It,” that engaging the resistance can be a powerful tool in the “successful accomplishment of change.”

They propose that resistance is:

  • A legitimate response
  • A sign of engagement
  • An opening for dialogue

Employees resist because they are engaged and committed. They want a “voice.”

Working with people in an organization to clarify their concerns is a strategy for improving the success of change initiatives. Change planning and implementation can be made smarter, faster, and cheaper by listening to the feedback embedded in “resistance.”

Tap into the Skills of Your Team

Employees are your best resource for understanding how to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your business processes because they have first-hand knowledge of your business operations. Utilize their knowledge and skills, give them a voice in the change initiative, and make them accountable for the outcomes – now and in the future.

In the white paper, “Creating a Six Sigma Culture,” Tracy A. Thurkow, Ph.D., Partner and Chief Operating Officer, CLG, recommends taking these three actions:

  • Tell employees the behaviors you want then reinforce their actions when you see them doing it right.
  • Ensure there are more positive consequences for positive behavior than for wrong behavior.
  • Review and measure the positive behaviors.

Don’t just focus on the technical part of Lean Six Sigma. To increase your chances of increasing a successful implementation, build an environment that accepts change and encourages workers to become part of the change. Remember that encouragement, motivation, and reward drive the process.

For more ideas or information on LSS training programs, contact us.

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