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The Voice of the Enterprise: Making Lean Six Sigma Better

Posted by kyle toppazzini on Tue, Dec 11, 2012

Lean Six Sigma, Sigma, lean, process, VOC

In Lean Six Sigma, the concept of Voice of the Customer (VOC) is paramount. VOC assessment takes into account the customer’s wants and needs. But I believe this concept falls short in taking into account the wants, needs, and concerns of all aspects of an enterprise. We may not get the support we need to be successful if we don’t account for stakeholder’s requirements. When we begin to implement our initiatives, we may face resistance if we don’t consider the needs and wants of employees and managers. Furthermore, we are missing out on the opportunity to optimize our supply chains if we don’t consider the needs of our partners and suppliers. We should keep all these aspects in mind if we want to maximize organizational performance. That’s why in our new Lean Six Sigma model I introduce a concept called Voice of the Enterprise (VOE). VOE assessment considers all the wants and needs of each aspect of the enterprise.  Doing so establishes trust and strengthens the vital relationships within the enterprise value chain.


Data Sources for The Voice of the Enterprise


The following are the various data collection sources that can be used to obtain the different aspects of the VOE by segment:


  1. Customers – The easiest information to obtain is from a customer satisfaction survey. In addition, you could conduct focus groups or interviews with a sample of customers to better understand the factors correlated with satisfaction and dissatisfaction. Another source of information is customer complaints. You can obtain information about customer satisfaction by examining the types of questions or inquiries submitted, and this information could be readily available in your customer relationship management database. Finally, social media is an invaluable tool to compile an enormous wealth of information about customers and how they perceive the organization’s products and services. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are just three sources for you to easily obtain comments about the experiences your clients have had with your company.
  2. Leaders and Managers – To assess the voice of the enterprise, it is important to obtain the needs and wants of leaders and managers within the organization. Depending on the number of managers and leaders in the organization, the most effective way to obtain feedback is through interviews. You may also review records of decisions from meetings that senior managers and leaders attend to better understand what their priorities are. In addition, review the strategic and business plans to obtain a better understanding of the voice of the leaders and managers.
  3. Stakeholders – Stakeholders can be individuals who own stock, members of the board of directors, business owners, or other people. The best way to obtain information about the needs and desires of stakeholders is to conduct interviews and review record of decisions and meeting minutes from board meetings or shareholder meetings.
  4. Employees – There are several ways to obtain feedback from employees.  The easiest way to obtain feedback on a large scale is through conducting a survey or reviewing the results of previously conducted employee satisfaction surveys. You can also conduct interviews or focus groups with employees to better understand their concerns and needs, or examine grievances or complaints filed in the past. In addition, you may also look at administrative data such as employee performance reports, productivity numbers, employee files, etc.
  5. Partners and Suppliers – Both partners and suppliers are an integral part of delivering value to your clients, and you will want to ensure that their voices are heard. The best and most immediate way to obtain information from partners and suppliers is to interview them. A survey can also be conducted if there are a significant number of partners and suppliers, and follow up can be done through conducting interviews with a random sample of those organizations.


Steps to Identifying the Voice of the Enterprise


Once you've compiled all information from all the various elements of the enterprise, you can group the information in three categories.

  1. Information that pertains to satisfaction
  2. Information that pertains to dissatisfaction
  3. Information that pertains to factors that would not change how satisfied or dissatisfied people were

Once you've completed the groupings than you will take all the information and consolidated it under general categories.  Figure 1 provides an example of how some of your consolidated information may look after categorizing the information from the various aspects of the voice of the enterprise.


Figure 1 –Voice of the Enterprise


Lean Six Sigma, Sigma, Voice of the Customer 

Figure 1 shows a partial list of VOE by enterprise segment.  The yellow boxes in the figure show a consolidated category heading while the red boxes are individual observations.  This activity could take the form of a team exercise in which all team members write down their individual observations on Post-it notes by enterprise segment and place them on a board. Then the facilitator or team leader groups similar observations by segment with the help of the team, and determines a general heading for each of the groups of observations.  In Figure 1, we have provided a small sample of observations, but the team would group observations by segment for factors in which the segment is satisfied, dissatisfied, or impartial. 


Concluding Thoughts

In this article I have introduced you to a new concept called Voice of the Enterprise.  Do you think the Voice of the Enterprise closes one of the gaps in the existing Lean Six Sigma framework?

By Kyle Toppazzini  



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Great Lean Six Sigma Resources

The Lean Six Sigma group on Linkedin has well over 127,000 members discussing topical and interesting Lean Six Sigma topics. One particular discussion I like is on the 9th waste which can be viewed at



Topics: VOC, Voice of The Customer, sigma, lean, Lean Six Sigma, Assessment, process, Voice of the Enterprise