Practitioners of Lean Six Sigma highlight 10 mistakes that can hamper the implementation of process improvement culture within an organization.
#1: Lack of leadership focus: Only when the leader is focused towards process improvement, will the management and employees be forced to participate in following the same culture. It is but a very critical requirement to take up the leadership and ensure the availability of a dashboard that monitors the process improvement methodologies.
#2: Excessive focus on business paybacks: If it is long term improvement an organization desires, it is essential not to focus on short term benefits. Process improvement culture is all about achieving the target numbers, but also sustaining repeatable benefits.
#3: Following the defined rules: It is not always necessary to follow the distinct methodology. This can make organizations force fit the rules into the process, without understanding the true characteristics of the problem.
#4: Not focusing on the learning metrics: Apart from the tangible numbers, it is also essential to focus on the learning from implementing the process improvement culture. The leadership must make sure that the ideas generated during the process, failure incurred etc., must be documented for future reference.
#5: No room for innovation: Following an established standard is a good practice. But force implementing standards and withholding new ideas is a not the proper way to bring about process improvement.
#6: Following the set processes: It is important for the leadership to bring about a culture that challenges the existing techniques. Only then can organizations move ahead with new and improved methodologies that are up-to-date with the changing business practices.
#7: Inadequate structure and ownership: For a sustained process improvement culture it is mandatory to invest in creating infrastructure, and give priority to the availability of leaders who can implement process and also support employees.
#8: No certification programs: Only when there is something tangible for the employees too, will they be more driven towards implementing improvement in the organization. Certification programs keep them motivated and offer them a clear growth path.
#9: Focus only on certification: The other extreme is to get employees certified so much so that the intent to learn and implement gets reduced. Although it is essential to empower the associates, what is more crucial is to covert the learning into a process improvement culture.
#10: Outsourcing process improvement: While that might be a necessary step in the initial stages, for a sustained time, it is important to prepare masters and champions within the organization.