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Are you Defining Change or is Change Defining You? Evaluating Change in Lean Six Sigma Projects

 

lean six sigma, lean, sigma, assessment, process, change modelsAnother transformation initiative has been announced in your organization and you think to yourself, How much change are we expected to undertake?  In a Lean Six Sigma engagement, it is imperative to take into consideration the number of ongoing and past change initiatives.  This blog explains one approach to evaluating an organization’s ability to take on more change.

 

Why Must We Evaluate an Organization’s Ability to take on more Change?

The simple answer is that if the organization has limited internal capacity to undertake change, one of two outcomes should be realized: (1) the process improvements from the Lean Six Sigma project that are planned to be put in place will not be sustainable, and/or (2) the organization’s ability to meet its day-to-day requirements could suffer at the expense of carrying out the Lean Six Sigma project.  Neither scenario offers a desirable outcome.  Through an assessment of the organization’s ability to undertake change (or its change model), a tailored plan can be put in place to ensure that process improvement initiatives are sustainable and that the current day-to-day requirements do not suffer.

 

How Do You Assess an Organization’s Ability to take on more Change?

When conducting an assessment of an organization’s ability to take on change, you may consider conducting the following activities:

1. If the organization has a centralized project management authority, then meet with individuals within that business unit to better understand the following:

a. If a formal structure is in place to assess the impact of change (i.e. a change model) throughout the organization and on its clients, partners, and suppliers, what is the current state of affairs within the organization, e.g., how many projects and changes are ongoing, how much change has taken place in the last year, which business units were involved and impacted by the change initiative, and which clients, partners and suppliers were impacted?  It is also a good practice to review the communication strategies and plans that were used in conjunction with these projects.

b. If a formal structure to assess the impact of change throughout the organization is not in place, then you will likely have to undertake an activity to review the organization’s current and past project plans, the project team members involved, the clients, partners and suppliers impacted, etc. You should also review the amount of time that internal resources are spent on the projects. Again, you should review any and all communications strategies and plans that were used in the projects.

2. If the organization does not have a centralized project management authority, then conduct a survey across the organization to obtain information about projects that are ongoing, utilization of resources on those projects, past projects, etc.  Once the survey results are returned, meet with those business units conducting the projects to obtain all necessary project documentation.

 
3. Once the activities outlined above are completed, then (1) determine the capacity within the organization by area, (2) determine the resource project burn rate by unit (this is the intensity for which resources have been utilized on previous projects), and (3) determine the types of customers, suppliers, and partners impacted by change over the last year. 

The table below shows a hypothetical example of what an evaluation of an organization’s capacity might look like.

 

Organizational Unit

Current Projects

Current Project Resource Utilization

Current Available Capacity

(every group has 20% total capacity to do projects except IT which has 60%)

Resource Burn Rate for the last 12 months

Customers, partners and suppliers impacted by change in last 12 months

Finance

SAP Implementation

10%

10%

15%

 

Human Resources

SAP Implementation (HR Module)

10%

10%

5%

 

Communications

None

0%

20%

10%

 

Legal

None

0%

20%

4%

 

Information Technology

SAP Implementation

50%

10%

60%

 

Research and Development

None

0%

20%

5%

 

Marketing

SAP Implementation (Customer Relationship management Module)

10%

10%

25%

 

Operations

SAP Implementation

4%

16%

10%

 

Retail Customer

 

 

 

 

On-Line Customer

 

 

 

 

 

In the table, this fictitious example shows a capacity assessment for an organization that is currently rolling out a SAP system across its retail and online operations. With the exception of information technology (IT), which allocates 60%, all areas currently allocate 20% of the resource capacity to support corporate projects

Furthermore, there are resources from finance, human resources, IT, marketing, and operations currently being used to support the roll out of SAP.  The column in the table titled “Current Available Capacity” is derived from taking the 20% resource availability (for all units with the exception of IT) to support the corporate project and subtracting the current project resource utilization.  For example, in the area of finance, 10% of the resources are used to support the roll out of SAP, which leaves 10% of the resources available to support other corporate initiatives.  

The column titled “Resource Burn Rate for the last 12 months” indicates the average resource utilization to support corporate projects over the last 12 months. 

Finally, the last column in the table shows all suppliers, partners, and customers impacted by corporate projects implemented or being implemented in the last 12 months.

Based on the example in the table, IT, marketing, and finance—to a lesser extent—are areas that have been used quite extensively to support corporate projects over the last 12 months.  Although there is capacity in these areas for new projects, the burn rate of resources over the last 12 months must be taken into account.

At the end of the assessment, it will become clearer what considerations and actions need to be taken for a successful implementation of the process–improvement initiatives.

 

Concluding Thoughts

In this blog I have outlined an approach to evaluating change within an organization.  Now that you have read this article are you more inclined to evaluate change as part of your Lean Six Sigma project?

 

By Kyle Toppazzini

 

Register for Our Free Beyond Lean Six Sigma Webinar

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Valuable Resources

 

The following URLs provide great additional information on Lean 6 Sigma

 

Toppazzini and Lee Consulting Lean 6 Sigma Consulting  at -Lean Six Sigma Consulting

 

Linkedin Six Sigma Group at http://www.linkedin.com/groups?home=&gid=37987&trk=anet_ug_hm

 

ISixSigma web site at www.isixsigma.com

 

ASQ web site at www.asq.org


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