LSS Way of Life

NO EXCUSE: Responsibility is not a characteristic

personal responsibility in delivering excellence

Sense of responsibility: one has it, or one doesn’t. There is not a word of truth in this statement. Of course some people have more compassion with their fellows than others do, but there sure are techniques for sharpening your sense of responsibility. So no more excuses!

But what exactly is this sense of responsibility?

Some jobs and the belonging tasks demand for a lot of responsibility. Most of the times, those come together with a lot of money, or sometimes even human lives are at stake. People that own a sense of responsibility are characterized by their alertness. They constantly question themselves: Why is this going wrong? Can I do this, better, faster, or more efficiently? Also, they own the capacity of making decisions on their own, and being independent. Responsible people see it as their duty to watch over the well being of others in their surroundings, and will recognize alarm signals or stress factors in the blink of an eye.  It’s not about reflecting responsibility, but taking responsibility!

Developing your sense of responsibility

In case you would like to develop your sense of responsibility, you will have to learn to shut down your automatically generated thoughts. Irritation is a familiar emotion for you? Do you ever think: “Why is this happening now, again? I even told them so; just let it figure them out by themselves!” ? Then, I would strongly advise you to let go of this frustration and to take the following steps in developing your sense of responsibility.

  • Let go of your narrow-mindedness! This is rather the opposite of responsibility. You don’t want to do tasks that are not in your job description according to you? Then you will not be able to make a splendid career. It is showing lack of responsibility and it will not improve the quality of the product or service that you are delivering.
  • Try to be flexible. Has it ever occurred to you to work some overtime to finish this important order? Shake of this ‘from nine to five’ mentality and try to create some flexibility for making an extra mile. Doing slightly more than is requested for can tremendously boost the quality of your product or service.
  • Don’t forget about the details. Often, the quality of your product or service can be found in the details. To have an eye for details is of major concern for showing that you are taking responsibility for the quality delivered.
  • Be willing to do something for one another. To reach a helping hand to your colleague that is overloaded by work can be very much appreciated. Take responsibility for the organization as a whole and for the well being of your colleague. He won’t forget about it!
  • Don’t forget to share your responsibilities. In case you are afraid to do so, you will hinder yourself and your surroundings for no reason. People with too big of a sense of responsibility are excessively critical and point out to their colleagues what possibly could go wrong. This will give your colleagues a feeling of discomfort and it creates an awkward cooperation. Shake off this feeling of doing it better than others. Think of what actually could go wrong. This hardly ever is a irreparable mistake

Do you dare to take the step of developing a sense of responsibility?

I can help you in developing sense of responsibility by my online Lean Six Sigma trainings. With the help of improvement projects, internal process will be scrutinized to discover which input is of importance for your results. Then it will be determined what would be the best way to monitor this input and to optimize the process, and to deliver the quality that you stand for.

Lean Six Sigma works following a certain project sequence. Each step within the project will be gone through systematically, and according to the DMAIC principle, standing for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control. For each phase, the project team will have to come together to brainstorm and to work out ideas.

But this only works if everybody in the team takes his or her responsibility, doesn’t it?

In case this is not happening, it is of importance for the project and the organization to stop and talk about this issue. Are YOU ready to take your responsibility?

Have a look at my training programs!

You can also contact me for some more information on the topic or for some advice.

The choice is yours.

: +31 6 54 69 40 47



Effective Problem-Solving In Practice


“Do You Have A Problem?…Let Me Give You The Solution”

If I tell you my problem, what would be your reaction?

You would probably like to understand my problem; you would listen to my story and …give your best solution to my problem, right?


That’s the reason you have to sit in all the meetings all day long. Boring, isn’t it?

Especially the managers among us are fully loaded with meetings. We don’t have time, we just run from one meeting to the next one. And we feel ourselves very important.

In most of your meetings, there is a problem. Your colleague or subordinate has arranged another meeting because there is a problem that needs to be solved.

What happens in such meeting? You come together, if it is carefully organized, you have already received the agenda of the meeting beforehand, and you have already collected some ideas about HOW TO SOLVE


In case you are the manager, you are expected to deliver the solution to the problem. Right? At least you feel that you should. That gives you a sense of satisfaction, it is good for your self esteem and you feel being important.

You appreciate that people around you seek your advice; therefore you make sure you deliver your advice.

This is NORMAL.

Now something better:

Apply Lean Six Sigma DMAIC approach.

Define Phase:

Try to listen first. If you hear about a problem DON’T JUMP TO THE CONCLUSIONS but make sure you and your colleagues understand completely what the problems is.

The key to this is asking the right questions: “How often does this happen?” “When was the last time?” “Where does it happen?” “What are the consequences?” “How could you measure this problem?” “How would it look like if this problem is solved?”

Involve in this discussion the people who are impacted by this problem, they face this issue regularly and are not satisfied about the situation.

Important to create common understanding in the group and do not allow anybody to overrule other’s

opinions and feelings by saying “oh, come on, that not a big deal…”

If you allow this, you will lose commitment and motivation in the group.

Measure Phase:

Insist on data. If the group or the organizer of the meeting has already data, that’s fine. Put it on the table. Try to make an runchart / individual chart of the data displaying the occurrence of the problem in time.

Most probably you don’t have the data in the meeting because nobody thought about measuring it before. (Yes, we are on the way of culture change…)

So agree then what to measure, who will measure it, where and how frequently to measure it. Explain that he/she needs to put it into a runchart (calculating the mean and control limits are possible even in MS Excel).

Postpone the meeting until there is data.

Analyze Phase:

When data is collected in the runchart, discuss the possible causes concerning the current performance.

Brainstorming is essential but you can make many mistakes here. How to do it effectively and with actionable end-result and team commitment, you can read it in my book, Profitable Empowerment (currently I have it in digital format).

Improve Phase:

If you have done your brainstorming correctly, you agreed to test some possible causes to the problem. So you make another appointment to analyze the results of the test. Questions to be answered: “Did we find the most important cause to our problem?” “Can we see improvements in our test results compared to our base line measurement?” “Is the improvement significant or do we need to look for alternatives?”

Control Phase:

Agree with the team how the new procedure will look like to ensure the solution will indeed solve the problem for the last time.

Administrate it, train and educate people.

… and keep monitoring…

Closing words:

Managers like quick problem-solving but how can you solve something which you even don’t know. You can’t.

Following the structured problem-solving of Lean Six Sigma in your daily work does not need to be very time consuming. Often you can solve issues in this way within a couple of hours.

But you need to exercise this.

Currently I’m implementing strategic Lean Six Sigma in a small company where I train 59% of the employees, including the Managing Director.

He said “It is so tempting to provide with quick solutions without truly understanding the problem first. Lean Six Sigma teaches us to be patient with each other and understand each other’s issues better. This makes our organization much more effective and efficient.”

Warm regards,


Do You Have A Strategy?…And Do You Follow It Through?

Your Strategy Is…

There are many companies around the globe making nice profits but there are only few who are able to do it for year after year with a structure, a planned set of actions.

Successful organizations like General Electric, Toyota, Motorola, Shell, etc. learnt to use a method that gave them not only financial strength but also more control about the bottom line result.

You know, I’m talking about Lean Six Sigma, but it’s not about the name. Some companies have their own name, some have no specific name for it, they just apply the method. Whatever you choose… it is about the consequent, structured application of the method in your own company that will save you money, save you time, simplify processes and motivate your employees.

If your company doesn’t have a structured way of improving profit month-by-month, year-by-year, then my book (Profitable Empowerment – not yet available for sale) provides you with a great chance to learn the same method those big companies have been using for years and enjoying its benefits.

3 Reasons Why You Should Consider Lean Six Sigma As Your Strategic Tool

#1 Because your profitability will not solely depend on your customers.

Of course, you MUST provide your customers and clients with the best and highest possible results and tangible benefits. Therefore, you want to get more and more sales. No question about this. But you know this is not the easiest and quickest way to improve your profit because it depends on many external factors you cannot influence.

In my book I will explain to you the clear steps and techniques that YOU can apply to reduce your costs and get more control about your bottom line results.

#2 When you think about cost reduction, you probably think about dismissing employees and squeezing out your suppliers. Not much fun but it has to happen…

My method shows you how you can make significant reductions in your expenses while achieving it TOGETHER with your employees and colleagues in a way that they will enjoy it. So it can be fun!

#3 Making profit is not only an aspiration but your duty towards your stake holders: your customers (they deserve it to receive your outstanding product and service over many, many years), your employees (they can pay the bills, send children to school, go on holiday), your suppliers (so they can serve you with outstanding products and services), your investors (for a decent return) and the community (your government included).

So you need means, tools and methods that YOU and YOUR ORGANIZATION can apply on a daily base, as a “way of life”.

Why did I write this book? Because I see so many companies struggling without any means to be better tomorrow than they are today. Or… they just do their things, without thinking about improving. Danger! When you’re like that, you will be passed by your competitors, your customers will no longer go to you and your profit will evaporate.

So I would like to spread the news on continuous improvement as fast as I can to help you to secure your profit, therefore your company’s future.

I’m sure my book, Profitable Empowerment, will support you on this journey.

So what strategy do YOU follow to improve your business profitability?

Thanks for sharing it.

Warm regards,


PS: My book – Profitable Empowerment – is currently at the printer and expected to be available at mid October 2009. It will come with extra FREE material that will help you to formulate your profitable strategy and it will also give you tools to follow through that strategy.

Personal Effectiveness With Lean Six Sigma

How To Use Lean Six Sigma Principles For Better Jobs and Higher Salaries

You’re working in company and you would like to get better career opportunities, more interesting and challenging jobs with higher rewards.

You do the things you always did but you feel you need something new.

So you browse the internet in the breaks for extra information on personal effectiveness. You get about 78 million search results. Oopss…

Entering the key phrase “time management” into Google gives you a choice of 232 million results. The choice is yours….;-(

In this post I would like to provide you with an unknown application of Lean Six Sigma to improve your personal effectiveness (zero search result for the exact phrase).

Background and Benefits

Key to long-term benefits of Lean Six Sigma relies on the fact how many people are using it in their daily work.

“So, it is not about the number of projects?”

No. Projects you need at the beginning because you’re learning the tools and the methodology but at the end you should be able apply it on the fly. As a problem occurs you know the logical steps to solve the problem for good without a formal project setting.

As you use the methodology – the more the better you can master it – you will easily stand out of the crowd. It is obvious: no one has the structured, fact-based, analytical approach as you do when you master Lean Six Sigma. Furthermore, you’re able to communicate with your colleagues effectively, motivating and empowering them to solve problems together. This social skill is even more valuable than the “hard skills” of problem solving.

Applying the step-by-step problem solving method of Lean Six Sigma is one thing; this will increase your efficiency as an employee.

Having a top down approach, a structure or a system when applying this tool will make you the most effective person in your organization.

I’m going to explain you how to do it one step after the other.

The Structure And The Tool

Let’s go through the process.

1. Mission, Vision

Get this very clear. What is your company’s mission and vision? With other words what is the purpose of their existence and where do they want to be in let’s say 5 years?

Ask your boss about it and also what the mission and the vision means for the department. Don’t give him a difficult moment but ask him first for an appointment on this subject. Tell him that you are reviewing your tasks and objectives in order to increase your personal effectiveness, therefore you would like to get more info on the mission and vision of both the company and the department.

Most probably your boss doesn’t know the answer right away, that’s why it is better to give him/her some time to prepare. Furthermore, the fact that you’re interested in these subjects will make you a special person. It does not happen often.

Discussing these things with your boss gives you the opportunity to get your role and tasks more clear for both of you. You don’t have to formulate your own personal mission statement and your vision during the meeting but at least you should get a lot of supportive info for that so that you can do it later.

Go then and formulate yours after the meeting. Revisit them regularly and modify it if needed.

2. Objectives

Like with the mission and vision, you need to know the objectives of your department and based on that setting up your own objectives. Again, you probably need the input of your supervisor for this. Many companies have their regular Goal Agreement meetings to define those objectives.

Needless to say, your objectives should be SMART otherwise you can’t achieve them. It is good to add your own objectives as well but get the priorities right. Discuss the prio’s with your boss to be in-line and clear why.

Have your objectives written, close at hand, visible, e.g. in your daily planner or on your desktop or on your white board. Otherwise you will forget them and your daily activities will be led by the urgencies of the day.

3. Personal Dashboard

When you know your objectives and they are measurable, then you have already your key matrices that you want to monitor. Keep it simple: use MS Excel or just by hand and make run charts (time series plot) to monitor progress. You most probably need to add other matrices than only your objectives. Depending on what you measure, plot your data at least on a weekly base and be consistent in the way you collect data (like every Friday or every Monday). More about the Measurement System you can read in my book (available in Sept 09).

Only by the fact that you start measuring the things that you find important, will help you to improve and get closer to those objectives.

Again, making your progress visible will get you focused each day.

4. Challenges and Identifying Your Projects

Measuring your current performance and comparing to your objectives will show you your challenges: the biggest gaps. Here you have to identify small projects, actions that needs to be carried out in order to improve your performance.

This part is where you apply the problem solving steps of Lean Six Sigma and the tools within each phase:

Define: describe the problem, set your goal, determine the process

Measure: create your base line for your project and talk with customer to determine the exact gap

Analyse: brainstorm with your team to find your possible main causes to your problem

Improve: change, test, measure again to see if you really got your key parameters right.

Control: register your findings to guarantee that your improvements will last

This is just a quick summary of the DMAIC steps that you need to learn and apply when solving problems. I can write (I’ve just finished, actually) a whole book on this subject. I let you know when it is available…


When you stick to this structure, use Lean Six Sigma problem solving steps and tools, keep monitoring your important parameters to see your progress towards your objectives, this will give you an unmatched advantage compared to your colleagues. You will stand out from the rest, no doubt.

How To Apply Lean Six Sigma DMAIC Approach to Sales?

I just finished a Special Report for Sales Managers on How To Apply the DMAIC structure in sales conversations with the Customer.

Watch the video as I explain.