South Africa-based Pietro Pazzi, MD at NuBiz, and Consultant at Afrox/Linde, BHP Billiton, Sanlam and Linatex, is a certified Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt with solid experience in successfully applying Lean Six Sigma.
Having led the design and execution of several operational and transactional business improvement projects, positively impacting balance sheets and income statements, his success secrets are most definitely ones to take note of. So read on as we present his top secrets to winning with Six Sigma…
1. READYING THE ORGANISATION
The first step involves a Readiness Audit to ascertain the current culture of the organisation and its acceptance to change, says Pazzi. Several areas should be explored, including financial statements; relationships across departments; leadership team commitment levels; willingness to adopt a data-orientated approach to decision-making; project management mentality; and the level of analytical skills in the business, among others.
Aside from assessing the readiness of the business, the audit aids in developing a deployment plan and methodology selection – Lean, DMAIC or DFSS - and identifies areas requiring extra attention.
To maximize Six Sigma benefits, “it is imperative to align behind the company’s strategy”, Pazzi says, adding that a key element of any change is “absolute clear communication of the purpose and benefits of the ‘new way’”. This means issuing a plan to all stakeholders.
2. DEPLOYMENT STRUCTURE & PROJECT SELECTION
Six Sigma requires a solid infrastructure to enable good management. Pazzi talks us through the ‘Six Sigma Organogram’: “In essence a typical Six Sigma organization includes - Leaders Sponsor/Chief Champion, VP/Director of Six Sigma, Champions, Master Black Belt, Black Belts, Green Belt, Yellow Belt, Process Owners, Team Members, and Financial Validate.” Typically, the VP, MBB and BBs structure the Six Sigma organizations, while the remaining roles ensure success, he explains. “Belt selection is another area that can make a difference,” he says.
Next comes the project selection: “This is one of the key success factors that can make the difference between a winning business and a frustrated one.” Although this is a critical factor, Pazzi says it is often riddled with error.
“A project idea hopper should be in place and updated continuously with new project ideas. Evidence, data and facts should be used to select projects.” Once selected, “the project objectives, metrics and benefits are buttoned down. This forms the basis of the chartering process”. It is absolutely key that projects are correctly scoped and the right balance between cycle-time is achieved, he adds.
3. KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER, BELT COACHING & PROJECT REVIEWS
Next the transfer of knowledge commences, which Pazzi says is best done in the class room: “Not only does this type of training promote integration and dynamic discussion, it allows for practical exercises that help cement the new concepts that are being taught.”
Training sessions should be facilitated by an experienced MBB, balancing theory and experiential work. Candidates have their own projects to implement new tools and techniques on.
“A vital component of ensuring that belts steadily progress with their projects is the level of coaching and mentoring they receive. The champion and the MBB take responsibility for this role,” he says. Project stage gate reviews should then be presented by belts, taking evaluation criterion into account, which in turn is reviewed and presented to stakeholders.
4. DEPLOYMENT & PROJECT TRACKING
Once past the initial learning phase, BB’s should be running four projects comfortably, with support and mentoring, Pazzi goes on to explain.
By now, Six Sigma should be the primary initiative deployed within the company. “As such various levels within an organization need to have access to Six Sigma related status information,” says Pazzi. “One of the key elements of a successful deployment includes some sort of deployment and project tracking mechanism,” he outlines, adding that it should be “user-friendly, fast and simple to use”. The mechanism should be accessible to stakeholders; include a dashboard that indicates benefits, projects, cycle time, resources, and trained individuals; house a complete project charter; and allow belts to attach project documents.
5. REPLICATION & MAINTAINING MOMENTUM
“With projects underway success will begin to emerge. To build confidence and speed up the adoption of Six Sigma, these successes should be communicated to the organization,” Pazzi stresses. “As projects are concluded and the company reaps their rewards, it is important to consider taking these to other areas within the organization that may have similar processes.
“With projects logged into a centralized repository all the project information should be readily available. The belt will learn as much as possible from the success story, which allows for accelerated cycle time of the project.” Leaders must then ensure that the initiative’s momentum is sustained, Pazzi concludes.