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.

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