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5 Great Ways to Make Lean Six Sigma Training More Effective

Posted by kyle toppazzini on Thu, Feb 07, 2013

lean six sigam training, lean six sigam, lean, six sigma, trainingIt is not a surprise hearing people who have taken Lean Six Sigma training mention that these courses do not prepare students well enough for the realities of a Lean Six Sigma implementation.  You should not be alarmed to hear me say that learning the Lean Six Sigma framework, DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and control), and the tools used within the framework do not prepare students for competing priorities and change management issues that exist within most organizations. 

These concepts are fundamental; however, it is also important to learn how to apply these concepts to their Lean Six Sigma projects within their organizations. No two projects are the same, so are organizations. It is not a rocket science to design effective Lean Six Sigma training courses that provide students with the tools, knowledge and confidence to implement Lean Six Sigma implementation in their organizations.  And here is a list of 5 “elements” that should be included in an effective Lean Six Sigma training:

  1. Teach students how to manage and implement change – Teaching only the basics of change management is not enough; it should also integrate strategies and effective change management techniques as part of the training material. These techniques  can make or break a Lean Six Sigma implementation;
  2. Incorporate gaming into Lean Six Sigma training – Adding Lean Six Sigma simulation games into Lean Six Sigma training will give students the opportunity to see first-hand how their decisions would impact a Lean Six Sigma implementation in a non-risk environment. 
  3. Focus on teaching students to teach –As the old saying goes “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”.  This saying is equally applicable to Lean Six Sigma where organizations are often stretched too thin and simply do not have the resources available to take on a Lean Six Sigma project.  For this reason, Lean Six Sigma training should focus on teaching students how to teach to others the methods of Lean Six Sigma,
  4. Teach students through application not just practice – Practice makes perfect.  This is true BUT it depends on what you practice. If you practice the proper “what”, you will be amazed to see the difference of how much of the concept you are able to retain.  In a typical Lean Six Sigma training, there is no choice but to use generic examples and practice sets to teach people.  However, what would happen though if as part of student’s learning, the student was asked to work in groups to map a process or value stream they knew really well, calculate some performance metrics using data they would make up and then explain to the class, what they did and their analysis.  Chances are they would remember this experience more than a practice set they did in Chapter XYZ for an imaginary company ABC .
  5. Get students trained in marketing Lean Six Sigma – Students should be able to explain to anyone from a first grader to the CEO of a company why they would need Lean Six Sigma, what to expect, who is involved, how long it will take, how many resources etc.  I often hear students say they are confused when to use Lean and when to use Six Sigma.  Students certainly need to understand the methods used in both frameworks but they need to understand the philosophies of one versus the other.  Students also need to understand in what instances it is more likely to use a lean approach versus a six sigma approach.  In short, students should understand the big picture, put Lean Six Sigma and its components in perspective as well as the methods that are used.  If not, the return of investment from the Lean Six Sigma training will be discounted.

Concluding thoughts

In this short article, I have provided five tips on how to improve Lean Six Sigma training.  Some of the tips are quite obvious; while others may seem new to you.  The next time you are thinking about training or having employees trained in Lean Six Sigma, ask yourself if the training provides the necessary components for the student to effectively implement Lean Six Sigma.


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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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Topics: sigma, lean, lean six sigma training, process, six sigma, training