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5 Lean activities C-levels must get right

Posted by kyle toppazzini on Thu, Jun 28, 2012

Lean six sigma, Sigma, Lean, Change models, C Level ExecutiveLeadership makes all the difference in whether a lean six sigma project will be successful or not.  From my experience, a C-level executive plays one of the most critical roles in the deployment of the transformation exercise.  For a C-level executive leading an extensive transformation project, here are the five activities that he/she must get them right for a change project to be a success. 


1 – A good reason for implementing change

There must be a good reason made for change in order for the transformation to be successful (This is a critical part of your change model). That being said timing in launching such a project is a key factor that will either make or break the project.  Changes in legislative requirements, competitive pressures, restructuring, financial pressures are opportune situations to make a case to re-examine the old way of doing business.


2 - Select a strong project director

As a project champion, your role is to be an advocate of the project, bring legitimacy to the project and ultimately are accountable for the results. However the responsibility of executing/implementing the project will be done  with other staff. A Project Director will play one of the most vital roles.  The project director has to be capable of communicating and reporting on the project across the various business lines, ensure that adequate resources are made available for the project to be successful and more often than not remove any obstacles.  The project director should be a strong supporter of the change and be fully engaged.  In order to fulfil this role, it is vital that the project director be a senior person with the authority and respect within the organization to ensure the project is a success.


3 - Communicate the way forward    

At times, a future state process will be created during the lean six sigma engagement.  Not only will the C-level executive be required to endorse this new process, it will be critical for the executive to be able to communicate how the project will be shaped in the future,  e.g. what that future state will look like, the path to get there, and the process used to arrive up to develop the new process. 


4 - Cultivate and Nurture a Culture of Improvement

For a transformation exercise to be sustainable, all the necessary incentives must be in place to cultivate and nurture a culture of improvement.  This means ensuring that performance results are communicated and used to drive improvement on an ongoing basis, continuous improvements continue to be a part of the new way of doing business and that rewards and recognition (monetary and non monetary) are in place to promote and encourage improvement.


5 - Personal Commitment

We often hear that projects fails because of a lack of management support; however, I found that the C level executives who are able to give some personal commitment to the project serves as a catalyst for the project’s success.  My definition of personal commitment is that the C-level executive wholeheartedly believes in the cause, is willing to put to take some risk in exchange for the expected benefits resulted from the Lean Sigma initiative, and is fully engaged to the extent that they should be.  The commitment also means that the C-level executive makes this as a top priority for his/her executive team and staff.


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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

ISixSigma web site at

ASQ web site at

Topics: sigma, lean, Change Models, Lean Six Sigma, C Level Executive, Lean 6 Sigma