DMAIC and Six Sigma
The current project
When our help was requested, it was primarily about process generation in quality management: the analysis of the quality value stream and the implementation of an improved target value stream. However, this has now developed into a project that is also about reducing rejects, rework and other things that are closely linked to this. As a result, I have more contact with Six Sigma again. In so far as I collect various data sets, analyse them and determine the scatter, for example. I create a hypothesis test and carry out many other measures. That's very exciting for me because I've been working less in this field for the last year and a half. So I really enjoy it a lot. Apart from that, I also had to do a lot of change management because now the project has actually developed in such a way that it has stretched from the original pilot area to the whole company and includes all production areas. Now, I am accompanying the position of interim quality manager and am therefore responsible for the entire quality management system of the company.
I particularly like it because we are on the road with several consultants. It is quite a big company and I can also discuss key issues with my colleagues: "Here we have a problem. How do we deal with it now; what is your proposed solution?" and so on. I like that very much, as a personal matter.
The consulting coach as a bridge between theory and practice
Our client has the problem of understaffing in the entire middle management area. We didn't specifically say: "OK, we're going to do lean training and teach you the language of lean and what the tools are". We started with the change process itself and said "Look, there is such a thing as waste". It's exactly the same with 6 Sigma: people might mention that it exists, but it's really just overwhelming because people aren't used to this kind of thing at all.
This is different in an organisation that is specifically interested in Six Sigma training or a Lean organisation. Of course, you talk to them much more in detail. In that case, we would offer different training courses:
In essence, there are three different levels in Six Sigma. The lowest level is the 'Green Belt', which is basically a project manager who can lead Six Sigma projects. These are structured according to the DMAIC flowchart: Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve and Control, which is a universally recognised and successful project cycle.
The next level is the 'Black Belt', who is able to manage Six Sigma projects as a multi-project manager, supported by several subordinate Green Belts, and can also apply advanced statistical methods. Then there is the Master Black Belt, which is the one who can train people to the international standards, or lead complex transformations and improvement programmes in companies.
Consultant and coach, what's the difference?
Imagine going to a bank with a certain amount of money. You expect your partner to come up with the solution - that's clearly consulting. Coaching is education and training; I do that in consulting too, but the essential difference is: I am the coach, I provide the method to your problem. Whether concerned with personality or with the production line. I expect you to be or become the expert on your problem, even if the perspective on it may be distorted at the moment. I provide you with a different perspective that lets you see the problem. You can then find the solution to the problem yourself in the next step.
In change management there are three main questions that everyone needs to answer: The first is "why do I need to change? Everything is actually just fine in the comfort zone - everything is working." The next, and by far the most important, is "What's in it for me?". That can be more money, that can be more free time, that can be a better job - whatever. That is individual and the difficulty is to find that out. If this question is answered well, the last one usually follows by itself and out of self-interest: "How do I get there?". The solution to this is then, interestingly enough, merely an accessory, these are simple tools.
The human in the centre
Lean can be taught to a child. Lean is simple methods - common sense. Six Sigma goes a step further and is a little more demanding to implement. In my experience, however, most projects - no matter what they are about - are most likely to fail because of human factors. It can be resistance, but it can also be ignorance or mere lack of knowledge. What we do is always a change: Someone comes from outside and says: "You can do that better. That is actually a proverbial slap in the face. "Everything you've done so far can and has to be improved". That's how it can come across. The art - and that's how I measure the success of my projects - is not whether I've reduced the waste by 10% or 20%, but when I see that the people are enthusiastic and they make the project a success themselves. That's how I measure my success and that's also what I see as the biggest challenge.