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Five Powerful Ways to Integrate Change Management into Lean 6 Sigma

Posted by kyle toppazzini on Thu, Jun 14, 2012

Lean 6 sigma, lean six sigma, lean, sigma,process, change modelsLean 6 Sigma is a powerful process improvement tool yet it doesn’t mean much if this tool is not supported by your employees. Here are the five powerful ways that I use to get people engaged and excited about Lean Six Sigma (AKA Lean 6 Sigma).

1. Creation of a Change Agent Team

One of the very things I do when I set up a Lean 6 Sigma project is to create a team of change agents. This is a critical component in my change model. The team is composed of 6-8 people representing all parts of the process who are well liked and respected and are considered influencers within the organization. I usually select a cross-section of employees at various management levels who are proactive with great communication skills.

The Change Agent team is tasked with developing and implementing all communication and change management plans, processes and activities. The change agent team is educated in the area of Lean 6 sigma and are educating and updating their peers on the initiative throughout the project.

2. Obtain commitment from senior management

I can’t stress how important it is to have the buy-in and support of management (especially C-level executives) to successfully implement a Lean 6 Sigma initiative. Management not only has to support the initiative, but they also have to believe wholeheartedly in the initiative.

Often as part of educating senior-level managers on Lean 6 Sigma, I will ask their peers from other organizations who have implemented Lean 6 Sigma to speak to the management team about their successes and lessons learned.

In addition, management will need to be armed with a powerful and convincing communication message that not only inspires employees, but also creates the sense of urgency for the project.

3. Get employees from all levels involved

One of the best and easiest ways to create alignment across the organization is to get employees from all levels involved in the initiative. Throughout the life cycle of a Lean Six Sigma initiative, there will be ample opportunities to hold working sessions in which it will be beneficial to have the participation of both management and frontline employees.

In addition to the valuable information that is obtained from these working sessions, employees and management will be able to gain a better perspective of the entire value stream.

4. Make continuous improvement everyone’s job

Many critics of Lean 6 Sigma argue that Lean Six Sigma will not be self-sustaining, particularly when the leaders who support the initiative leave. In order to make lean 6 sigma sustainable within the organization, the tools and techniques used must become ingrained in the process and integrated in everyone’s day-to-day work.

To accomplish this, the easiest way is to establish, at the post-project phase, formal continuous improvement processes that integrate directly into senior management scorecards. In addition, frontline employees should also have the authority and responsibility to improve processes and are provided feedback on their contribution towards organizational performance. The feedback should not only be qualitative, but mainly quantitative.

5. Create positive incentives for contributions to performance improvement

Money is one of the factors that motivates people to excel. Non-monetary benefits, such as recognition, opportunities for advancement, opportunities to lead a major project and one-on-one coaching sessions with a senior leader, are also great incentives. In order to succeed a Lean Six Sigma project, a combination of monetary and non-monetary incentives should be in place for employees who contribute the most. Employees at all levels should be rewarded for their contributions and given the opportunity to contribute.

Concluding Thoughts

I have listed four methods of incorporating changes into a Lean Six Sigma initiative. Among other numerous change management strategies that I have not discussed, these are the four that I have used with much success. I truly believe that the determining factor to succeed a Lean 6 sigma project, employees’ engagements have to be an integral part of the project. What are the other strategies that you have most success with?

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Valuable Resources on Lean 6 Sigma

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

ISixSigma web site at

ASQ web site at


Topics: sigma, lean, Change Models, Lean Six Sigma, process, Lean 6 Sigma, Performance Improvement