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Lean Cheat Sheet C Level Execs

Posted by kyle toppazzini on Thu, Aug 02, 2012
Lean Six Sigma, Sigma, Lean, Process, Change Models

You, as a C-level executive, are spearheading a major Lean Six Sigma process transformation, yet another one of your long list of responsibilities. Similar to any other projects, implementing change using Lean Six Sigma transformation projects will take up some of your precious time.  Given my 20-year experiences working with C-level champions, I have learnt that certain project activities are definitely worth your time and effort. Here they are:


1. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Your role as a champion and leader in these projects is to motivate all people in the organization to take this transformation journey.  You must create a sense of urgency and priority for such a project.  You must communicate what the transformation project will mean to employees and what it will mean to them at a personal level (this is an essetial part of any chnage model).   So as a leader, spend time crafting out a message that is real, inspirational, and empathetic all at the same time.  


2. Team Selection

You may feel that as a leader it is not your role to be intimately involved with the selection of the project team.  I would argue the contrary and suggest that you, at the very least, have a major say in the senior resources who will be responsible for leading the project. 


Below are some characteristics you may want to consider when selecting your senior executives to deliver on your commitment:


  1. Influential- The head of your project must be a person with a great deal of influence at all levels across the organization.  The person must not only have credibility amongst his/her peers, subordinates and superiors for their technical capabilities, but also for their strong interpersonal skills.  They should be a strong change agent and are known to deliver results by leading and motivating others.  
  2. Results oriented-In order to successfully implement a Lean Six Sigma framework, which is focused on data and results; it should be led by an individual who is result-oriented.  Therefore, you should select an individual with strong commitment to measurable results.
  3. Personal accountability –In my opinion, personal accountability is one of the strongest considering factors when selecting  a leader to deliver your project.  The individual must be someone that takes personal accountability for delivering superior results.  I do not believe this is a characteristic that can be taught or learned.  
  4. Trust worthiness– I would argue that this trait comes a close second after personal accountability.  In large transformation and lean six sigma projects, egos and personal agendas often create unnecessary noise.  Resistance from employees will come in many forms, some will be obvious and some might be passive, which is much harder to detect and manage.  The person you select to lead the project has to be someone who you trust to be able to manage this resistance and know that they do not have hidden agendas or in some cases are a passive resistor themselves.
If you focus on selecting a strong individual with these characteristics, your chances of success will increase substantially.


3. Creating discipline and structure in the project

I have often seen C-level executives allow transformation projects to consume much more of their time than what is needed.  This could have a negative impact to other projects/priorities or work-life balance. C-level executive may consider receiving structured briefings of the project on a regular basis (e.g. monthly).  The briefing sessions should provide an overview of results to-date, risks and risk mitigation and what the project team need from you (C level executive). 


In addition, at the onset of the project, I think it is reasonable to expect to see the communication strategy and plan so that you know exactly when you are expected to communicate to whom and when. Prior to any communications that you are expected to deliver or issue, it seems reasonable to me to expect to see the communication material in writing a set number of days in advance. 


Finally I want to stress the importance for the C-level executives to stay up-to-date for the milestone schedule and progress towards it.




Closing Thoughts

Striking a work life balance of an executive seems like a dream. But prioritizing certain activities appropriately will definitely help. I hope that the information posted in this blog would help C-level executives  to use their time efficiently when undertaking a lean six sigma or transformation project. Let me know what your thoughts on this topic.


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More 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: Change Management, sigma, lean, Change Models, Lean Six Sigma, Champion, process