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Accelerating Six Sigma Projects with WorkOut
Accelerating Six Sigma Projects with WorkOut
Accelerating Six Sigma Projects with WorkOut
Accelerating Six Sigma Projects with WorkOut
Accelerating Six Sigma Projects with WorkOut
Accelerating Six Sigma Projects with WorkOut
Accelerating Six Sigma Projects with WorkOut
Accelerating Six Sigma Projects with WorkOut
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Accelerating Six Sigma Projects with WorkOut

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  1. White Paper Accelerating Six Sigma Projects with WorkOut Roland R. Cavanagh, PE Implementation Partners LLC January 20th 2006 Copyright 2006 Roland R. Cavanagh PE White Paper Accelerating Six Sigma Projects with WorkOut 2006 Roland R. Cavanagh PE Implementation Partners, LLC 1-800-464-2936
  2. White Paper Accelerating Six Sigma Projects with WorkOut Summary Six Sigma has become a popular problem solving, design, process improvement and change management system. Activities run the gambit from small process improvements to wholesale transformation of the enterprise. Results are measured in increased customer satisfaction and loyalty, shortened cycle times, and millions of dollars of cost reduction and additional revenue. Regional, continental, and global Six Sigma initiatives, targeted to providing a common experience for widely distributed customers or readily replicated, repeatable processes are common. Many companies that are living and implementing Six Sigma are experiencing team projects that are taking longer to achieve the projected results than anticipated or required by the nature of the business. This paper proposes an approach and timeline that integrates the best attributes of Workout (speed and collaboration) with the Six Sigma team project format, to achieve the desired results within the expected time and cost, without sacrificing scope or organizational support. Situation A significant proportion of improvement project durations (from inception to implementation) are exceeding their plans by 50% or more, expanding from 3, 5 or 6 months to 9 or even sometimes 13 months or more. Current economic pressures on businesses are demanding faster ROI, and today s rapidly changing economic conditions, competitive pressures, and market evolutions can obsolete the value of the results before they are achieved. The extended timelines of these projects cause momentum, which is difficult to gain in the first place, to be lost All of us at some point in our career have participated in some project that never seemed to end. Initially the goal was clear and energy was high, but interest waned as time passed, and the thing just never seemed to get finished. These issues result in pressures to shortcut the improvement process of DMAIC or the design process of DMADV , to suffer the loss of key constituents, or to dramatically reduce scope at the last minute in an effort to truncate the schedule, all of which diminish the effectiveness of the resultant solution. Team projects, and many of the tools that Black Belts are armed with, are structured for best results due to collaboration. Based on the equation Results = Quality x Acceptance, desiring high values for both the technical quality of the solution and the organizational buy-in and acceptance to get the most effective results, collaboration of the key stakeholders on both counts is critical. White Paper Accelerating Six Sigma Projects with WorkOut 2006 Roland R. Cavanagh PE Implementation Partners, LLC 1-800-464-2936
  3. Background: Workout was conceived during the late 1980s during Jack Welch s reign at General Electric as a means to drive the work out of processes . Now under several names such as Town Meeting , Action Forum , and FastTrack , it is a proven method for concentrating the work and driving cross-functional cooperation and accountability. Workout is best known as a structured, facilitated, pressure-cooker environment meeting of 1 to 3 days duration. Following a carefully scripted agenda, the facilitator guides the meeting process, keeping the group on task, monitoring participation and behaviors, all the while pressing them to use the selected tools and deliver their best solution. The meeting session closes with a formal report-out by the participants to the key stakeholders who have been coached to have a predisposition to say yes . This activity is designed to gain authorization for the proposed actions and create an expectation for participants to follow through. Although the participants may feel that they have done it all by the end of the report- out, much effort brackets the meeting. It is preceded by a focused preparation period of two to several weeks; a time of clarifying purpose and scope, participant identification, and data gathering. For up to 90 days after the session the focus is on the deliverables: encouraging completion of the approved actions through formal follow-up meetings of the key players and stakeholders. No one involved would say that a Workout event isn t a lot of work, but hundreds of millions of dollars have been saved or generated through the results of the Workout process A key learning from GE s workout experience is that rapid, highly participative action builds momentum that drives actions to completion. A concept presented in Good to Great by Jim Collins, the flywheel effect is at work here. Picture a huge, heavy flywheel. It's a massive, metal disk mounted horizontally on an axle. That flywheel is the project. The job is to get that flywheel to move as fast as possible, because momentum--mass times velocity--is what will generate superior economic results over time. To get the flywheel moving requires a tremendous effort. We push with all of our might, and finally it begins to inch forward. After a sustained effort, we get the flywheel to complete one entire turn. Our first Workout. We keep pushing, and the flywheel begins to move a bit faster. We keep pushing steadily. It makes three turns, four turns, five, six. Subsequent Workouts. With each turn, it moves faster, and then-- at some point, we can't say exactly when, we will break through. The momentum of the heavy wheel kicks in our favor. It spins faster and faster, we continue to push, but it seems that its own weight propels it. We aren't pushing any harder, but the flywheel is accelerating, its momentum building, its speed increasing. Employees are now requesting Workouts! Why does the flywheel effect work? Because more than anything else, real people, in real organizations, want to be part of a winning team. They want to contribute to producing real results. They want to feel the excitement and the satisfaction of being part of something that just flat-out works. When people begin to feel the magic of momentum-- when they begin to see tangible results and can feel the flywheel start to build speed-- White Paper Accelerating Six Sigma Projects with WorkOut 2006 Roland R. Cavanagh PE Implementation Partners, LLC 1-800-464-2936
  4. that's when they line up, throw their shoulders to the wheel, and push, to participate and eventually initiate. The flywheel effect reflects a cumulative process--step by step, action by action, decision by decision, turn by turn of the flywheel--that adds up to sustained and spectacular results. The breakthrough to becoming a great organization doesn t happen in one fell swoop, but instead after an organization has built up enough forward momentum to make the leap. The flywheel is always in constant motion, picking up a little bit of momentum at each turn, during the buildup and breakthrough phases. Proposal My proposal is to combine the traditional Six Sigma project team model with the Workout process structure the project schedule with two or more Workout sessions at the critical points that need the focused in person participation. The benefits are manifold: Duration (elapsed time) versus applied or work time Many companies have an expectation that a team member will commit 20% of their time to the project one day per week on average, for 4 to 6 weeks minimum. In practical application, we observe schedules of weekly 3 - 4 hour meetings, anticipating periods of more intense work. If a team member is going to spend the time away from their other demands anyway, for the project to be successful, I propose that the application of the Workout concept will concentrate the time spent on the project into blocks of very effective work, reducing the total touch time and substantially shortening the project duration. Fewer meetings incur fewer re-starts every meeting comes with a start-up period everyone getting oriented, begging forgiveness for unfinished deliverables or tardiness. Trimming the number of re-starts allows the time invested to be more focused, more productive. Consider what the picture would look like if we took an activity-based costing approach, where we charged each person s cost per minute to the project. Togetherness Containing the project work to a designated block of face-to-face time builds stronger accountability (no one wants to let the team down...). Interaction builds relationships, and with these new associations come new levels of trust, greater expectation and stronger commitment that benefit the project. The nuances from total communication non verbal and tonal, which are so important to understanding, effective planning and decision making, can be read by all. The curmudgeonly harrumph to the raised eyebrow or the quiet thumbs up are available for clarification. Training and Learning Everyone agrees that tool and method training for the participants is a valuable asset for them and for the enterprise, but not until those skills are applied. Much research has been done, and many words said about learning retention from experiential situations. Although What and Why explanations of some of the tools may not be explicit due to the Workout format ( Here s what we re gonna do now... ), the direct application thereof results in much more lasting and practical knowledge. The what and why reveal themselves. Given the shortened format and reduced content and tool list that many White Paper Accelerating Six Sigma Projects with WorkOut 2006 Roland R. Cavanagh PE Implementation Partners, LLC 1-800-464-2936
  5. associates are receiving before joining a project team (3 days, typically), the Workout format compliments that training experience and cements the learning. Schedule Prework First and foremost, how the project is selected and scoped plays a huge part in how well the teams can get their arms around what they have been asked to accomplish and how quickly they can begin doing things that move them in that direction. For that reason, the structured preparation for the first Workout must include: getting solid direction from leadership on the project; understanding how it links to business needs, identifying who the process owner is, and who will act as sponsor and understanding their various roles, determining how tightly the project is scoped and what the leaders believe is in and out of frame for the project team to consider. Now, consider the flow of work in a typical Six Sigma Improvement project, following the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) phases: Workout #1, for sure Clarifying the charter, the first process mapping, and constructing a VOC (Voice of the Customer) plan are the main chunks of work in the Define phase. Include establishing a few of the first Data Collection Plan steps from the Measure phase, and you have the first Workout session. Deliverables include a charter, properly critiqued and assimilated; high level, and, as needed, mid level process maps, an executable VOC plan and even a tested survey and the beginnings of the data collection plans. Because buy-in is critically important to the ultimate success of the project, include discussions and planning of communication and acceptance building strategies in this session. Present the charter and the plans to the leadership and key stakeholders during the report-out (call it a Tollgate if you must...) and you re off to a great start! The team members spend the next few weeks executing the VOC plan, completing the Data Collection plans and getting the data organized, graphed and charted. Workout #2 The Analyze phase presents another opportunity to gain from the collaborative power of Workout creating a Fishbone diagram, , hypothesizing the root cause, testing the process and data. You may be lucky and come to a conclusion, but that is rare most projects need more data or process detail but setting the expectation that this will be done together on a specific date encourages accountability in the assignments going forward like collecting more data. Workout #3, also a sure bet The transition from Analyze to Improve is the second most important Workout session. Agreeing on the analysis results, generating ideas for the solution, selecting the better, agreeing on those to pursue, analyzing the risks, planning any simulations and the pilot are all tasks well suited to a Workout format. Energy and synergy are key elements to get the creative juices to flow, and consensus on the forward plan is critical to success. White Paper Accelerating Six Sigma Projects with WorkOut 2006 Roland R. Cavanagh PE Implementation Partners, LLC 1-800-464-2936
  6. Deliverables include the final analysis conclusions, selected solution proposal(s) with an experiment or pilot plan, all heavy on the Acceptance factor. Action plans include building process documentation, training materials, and process monitoring systems. Workout #4 Reviewing the results of the pilot, modifying the solution, and constructing the implementation plan is another critical juncture in the project. The constituent group is growing, the team s job is changing from investigation and analysis to implementation and eventual hand-off. This should be a mandatory Workout in any project because this is the final discussion before project closure.. White Paper Accelerating Six Sigma Projects with WorkOut 2006 Roland R. Cavanagh PE Implementation Partners, LLC 1-800-464-2936
  7. Typical "as scheduled" project schedule: weeks 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 Define Measure Analyze Improve Control Note: red line denotes start of benefit recovery Typical "as happens" project schedule: weeks 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 Define Measure Analyze Improve Control Note: red line denotes start of benefit recovery Proposed "Four Workout" model weeks 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 Workout 1 2 3 4 Define Measure Analyze Improve Control Note: red line denotes start of benefit recovery Proposed "Two Workout" model weeks 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 Workout 1 2 Define Measure Analyze Improve Control Note: red line denotes start of benefit recovery White Paper Accelerating Six Sigma Projects with WorkOut 2006 Roland R. Cavanagh PE Implementation Partners, LLC 1-800-464-2936
  8. Conclusion I have proposed blending the best features of the Workout process into the Six Sigma DMAIC project schedule as a means to accelerate the delivery of results without sacrificing scope or the benefits of collaboration. Two important opportunities exist for all projects (Define/first of Measure and End of Analyze/most of Improve) plus one that should be mandatory for all projects whose implementation affects a large or diverse stakeholder group (pilot review and implementation planning). Another acceleration opportunity is presented by some analysis intensive projects (data analysis). Several arguments are presented in favor of this proposal, with the only objection, travel cost, neutralized by the acceleration of the benefit recovery period. References: The GE Work-Out : How to Implement GE's Revolutionary Method for Busting Bureaucracy & Attacking Organizational Problems by Dave Ulrich, Steve Kerr and Ron Ashkenas Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't -- by Jim Collins White Paper Accelerating Six Sigma Projects with WorkOut 2006 Roland R. Cavanagh PE Implementation Partners, LLC 1-800-464-2936

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