Improve your process, improve your performance


FUSE ©- The Next Breakthrough in Lean Six Sigma

Posted by kyle toppazzini on Tue, Dec 18, 2012

Lean Six Sigma, Lean, Sigma, Change models, Process, Assessment, BSC

Are you ready for the next innovation in Lean Six Sigma (LSS)? Allow me to introduce you to FUSE(Formulate, Understand, Synthesize, Execute), which is an approach that enables organizations to maximize enterprise performance with the least amount of friction. FUSE also cultivates continuous learning, improvement, and innovation across an organization. It embodies three core Chinese concepts of trust (shin), relationships (gunaxi), and knowledge (zhi), or more specifically, reflective thinking. This article will introduce you to FUSE, my new value-based LSS model.


Resource Intensity Project Life Cycle

Figure 1 shows the relationship between the resources required or resource intensity needed to assess, design, and implement process-improvement projects for three types of methodologies: traditional transformation, LSS, and FUSE.

Figure 1. Relationship between project phases and resource requirements.

Lean Six Sigma, Sigma, Project Life Cycle

As with any process improvement, transformation projects generally require using a lot of resources to implement, they are lengthy (in terms of time to complete), and require considerable effort and cost to repair problems after launching.

On the other hand, using the LSS model conducts more extensive assessment and analysis prior to launching or implementing a process improvement, resulting in less resource effort after the launch of the redesigned processes as compared to traditional transformation projects. However, LSS still requires some resource effort post launch to implement quality control methods. LSS also requires considerable effort and cost to sustain the change efforts through a new structure of trained and certified experts, process owners, and champions.

FUSE completes an exhaustive assessment with a rapid execution. The FUSE approach entails a comprehensive data collection and analysis prior to the selection of improvement projects; following this approach results in much more precision in the scope of its projects as compared to LSS initiatives. The FUSE approach has a more inclusive framework that takes into account employees, managers, leaders, suppliers, partners, etc needs resulting in less resistance and friction in implementation, greater trust, unification, and alignment between managers, employees, partners, customers etc. The LSS model does not consider all of these aspects. FUSE enables an organization to transform into one that is focused on continuous learning, innovation, and improvement and not just learning and improvement like that of LSS.


Breakthrough Performance

Figure 2 shows two relationships. The first relationship is between that of resistance to change and organizational performance.


Figure 2. Relationship between organizational performance, resistance to change, and optimization of the enterprise system.

Lean Six Sigma, Sigma, Organizational Performance 


As shown in Figure 2, organizational performance increases as the resistance to change decreases. I believe that this happens when an organization optimizes all the components of the enterprise, which is the second relationship shown above. The enterprise consists of more than just its processes and customers; it also includes leaders, management, employees, IT systems, infrastructure, suppliers, partners, and stakeholders. The more an organization optimizes all these components, the less resistance there will be to change and the greater organizational performance it will receive. This is a change model that most organizations strive for.

Until now, there have been very few single management frameworks that have been able to systematically optimize all of the elements of an enterprise simultaneously. Without considering the interrelationships that exist within an organization, superior and lasting organizational performance is difficult to achieve. For example, an organization may optimize resource performance but neglect to optimize its IT systems, resulting in suboptimized performance. An organization may also optimize its supply chain but not develop its employees, resulting in a one-time improvement in performance only.


Overview of FUSE’s Formulate Phase

The deployment of FUSE consists of four phases: formulate, understand, synthesize, and execute. Given the length of the article, we will provide an overview of the first phase only—formulate—which is as follows:

Formulate – The formulate phase can be thought of as formulating a path for the organization to reach higher levels of growth, and it is the most resource intensive phase in the framework. During this phase, the organization conducts an assessment of the attitudes, beliefs, and values of its people, customers, partners, stakeholders, suppliers, etc., to determine if trust issues exist. These types of issues may negatively impact any attempt to create increased organizational performance and enterprise value. It incorporates the voice of the enterprise (VOC for the enterprise), critical-to-the-enterprise characteristics, balanced scorecard (bsc), and enterprise value mapping (EVM) to create strategic alignment and refine the project selection to those that have the greatest strategic relevance and the greatest return in performance.

The formulate phase, unlike LSS, requires extensive measurement and analysis to be conducted up front. Assumptions are challenged through rigorous statistical testing, critical thinking, and reflection. Process stability and capability, cost drivers, and flow through of the EVM are measured and analyzed for all aspects of the enterprise. In the formulate phase, project plans to identify, design, and implement a new organizational model with less friction, more cohesiveness and cooperation, optimization of the enterprise, and learning through critical thinking and reflection are developed. Identified projects are critically tested through simulations to ensure that the project selection will yield the greatest benefits.

Details of each of the phases will be spelled out in my book, which I am currently completing.


Concluding Thoughts

Although I have not been able to provide the exact details of my model, from what you have seen so far, do you feel that FUSE will be one of the next innovations in LSS? I would love to hear your thoughts.


About the Author

lean six sigma, sigma, kyle toppazzini

Kyle Toppazzini is the president of Toppazzini and Lee (T&L) Consulting, and an international leader and consultant in lean Six Sigma. He publishes blogs and articles in Bloomberg Business Week, Digital Journal, Quality Digest Magazine and Social Media and is the author of the CFO Scorecard published in Exchange Magazine. (A global magazine produced by the Association of Financial Professionals). Kyle is currently working on a book that will bring new innovations in Lean Six Sigma and Quality Management.

Kyle is a six sigma master black belt and lean six sigma black belt receiving his training from the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College, a certified Balanced Scorecard Trainer, and a member of the Palladium Executive Group founded by David Norton founder of the Balanced Scorecard.

Kyle has conducted more than 30 performance and process improvement projects across the public and private organizations in government and health care yielding millions of dollars in cost savings and 80% improvement in performance.



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First image (image of a fuse) at the top of the article courtesy of Renjith Krishnan/

Topics: VOC, process improvement, sigma, lean, Change Models, Innovations in Lean Six Sigma, Lean Six Sigma, Assessment, BSC, process