Upset by Lean Six Sigma Green Belt and Reducing Illness

One of the Green Belts was working on reducing illness rate.

He said he was not satisfied with the progress and did not agree with the possible solution of this problem. He believed employing a new person fully dedicated to reduce illness rate would give much better results.

Hearing this I got UPSET and had to interrupt his presentation.

His comments made it clear to me that he did not understand 3 very important elements of working with Lean Six Sigma. This was his 2nd Green Belt project and I coach them every week, therefore I did not expect such reaction. I felt to be critiqued.

That is why I had to interrupt and explain the following:

1. Consensus of the team goes beyond personal favorites

The project leader is member of the team but the team makes together the decision which possible solution to test first, second, third etc. This is during the Analyze Phase of the Lean Six Sigma projects.

In this project the team has AGREED that the number one possible main cause to the high illness rate is due to the fact that there is no clear, easy-to-understand, company-wide known policy about illness.

If you are the project leader (Green Belt or Black Belt) you present the team and not your own opinion. You present your team’s solution and not yours. Something very difficult for managers with a big ego…

2. Priority means sequence of execution

At the end of the Analyze Phase the project team has to prioritize the possible main causes of the problem because they will define actions based on these causes.

Priority is determined by 2 aspects: logic and impact.

The project team of reducing illness rate has concluded the following priorities:

I. Clear, defined policy with roles and responsibilities
II. Training in the policy and uniform execution
III. Ongoing monitoring illness rate against max target
IV. Analysis and actions (corrective and preventive) by management
V. External support or dedicated coordinator

So the actions the team is going to undertake will follow this sequence. Currently this team is working on the company policy and procedures concerning the illness/sick leave. That is their 1st priority.
After that they will present it – in an interesting, catching, easy-to-understand way to ONE department (Lean Six Sigma policy: test it small before rolling it out).

…and so they continue with their actions.

The above-mentioned Green Belt project leader had his favorite solution on the 5th position…so he has to wait until the first 4 are cleared and done.

3. Actions = Result, No Actions = No Results Accept due to Awareness

The Green Belt project leader was disappointed because there was no company-wide reduction of illness rate yet.

I explained: if you have no improvement actions finished yet, you cannot expect any significant change either. The team is still working on the first priority: policy.

The only effect you could notice is that due to awareness.

Since we have started a Lean Six Sigma project on illness rate reduction and we were communicating about it regularly in the pilot-department, we could expect some improvements there already.

Indeed, if we look at the statistics of our chosen pilot-department, you can see a drop already by 50%:

Significant, company-wide improvements we can only expect as we carry out the actions defined under the previous point.

…and if the first 4 actions did not deliver sufficient results, the personal favorite of the Green Belt project leader will get the chance to reduce illness rate.

Do you want to learn more about how to lead a project team to successfully solve big challenges such as illness rate, claims and incidents you go for certain at

Warm regards,


+31 55 737 00 02

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