Chapter 9. Unlock the Secrets to Speed and Flexibility

A few years ago we were asked to help improve the business performance of a global leader in consumer products by overhauling its legacy continuous process improvement program. This company had developed a home-grown Six Sigma program strategy, trained hundreds of Green Belts and Black Belts around the world, and deployed a few dozen Master Black Belts. The client wanted us to help improve project values, shorten project lead times, and infuse Lean capability into its legacy Six Sigma toolset.

In our experience, the best way to ensure high return from Lean Six Sigma projects is to conduct an operations assessment to identify hot spots and engage executive leadership in driving business priorities to every level of the organization. But this company was exclusively focused on building its internal Lean capability, so we trained dozens of Lean Masters, as requested. The company also began an aggressive rollout of Lean principles and tools across the business.

On the upside, adding Lean into this company's improvement equation did improve project values and cycle times at the process level, and cumulatively, the deployment began returning more than it cost. But despite all of the activity and investment in people and projects, only local, incremental savings and productivity gains were realized. The potential to transform was not fully exploited. In no way had enterprise speed and flexibility—the real goal of the program—been achieved. ...

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