Lean Six Sigma is no magic but hard work. It is not only success but there are many possibilities to fail. I have assembled – mainly from my own experiences – the 5 biggest reasons your Lean Six Sigma initiative may fail.
Learn from my mistakes and do it better! Here is your list:
1. Short term thinking
Management always agrees when I tell them in my introduction that they need long-term focus when starting Lean Six Sigma program because it is all about changing the way we work, the way we react and solve problems for the sake of the customer.
In the meanwhile when we start solving the first burning problems, the main concern of the management is when the results will come in and why does it take so much time.
It is completely normal that our short term goals get more focus because we want instant gratification and quick return on our investments but do not forget that changing behavior and changing our company culture takes years and years of disciplined work and consistent application of Lean Six Sigma.
2. Not being committed
If you start with “we will see if Lean Six Sigma is suitable for our company” I already know there is work to do on commitment of the leaders. You have to go all in or do nothing. You cannot be a part-time drug addict or having only weekend-obesity.
Changing your behavior in your work and of those around you will give you enough challenges to make you wonder if you will ever reach your goal. You have to be committed.
3. Not following through
If you are not committed you will take the easy path. You will not take decision on project results when they deliver opportunities. Once I had a project where we reduced the admin time of nurses by 42%. The company was happy with the result but did not take any action to use this extra capacity. After a while everything turned back as it was before.
When you commit yourself to improve your company with Lean Six Sigma, you have to follow though otherwise your people will lose confidence in your decision.
4. Underestimating the consequences
Learning a new habit takes 66 days on average, anywhere between 18 and 254 days, based on a study at University College London by Phillippa Lally, health phycology researcher.
It takes hard work, time, effort and failing to make Lean Six Sigma a way you work. To set aside 2 hours per week with your team for a Kaizen workshop or to work daily on improving your key work process.
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