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  1. 1. SIX SIGMA & BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT DEPLOYMENT LEADER OF THE YEAR: RICHARD LAM, BMO FINANCIAL GROUP BMO Financial Group (BMO), one of North America’s oldest chartered banks, is a highly diversified financial services company headquartered in Toronto, Ontario. BMO employs more than 36,000 employees worldwide and has more than $376 billion in managed assets for personal, commercial, and corporate customers. In 2004, BMO’s Product Operations division recognized the need to achieve operational excellence across its diverse organization in North America. The senior executive leadership team brought Richard Lam—a seasoned Lean Six Sigma deployment leader— onboard in May 2005 to develop a five-year deployment strategy and lead the deployment with no existing infrastructure in place. Richard has more than 17 years of business improvement experience with prior experience at Bank of America and Ford Motor Company. He is a senior quality leader, a certified Master Black Belt, an advanced practitioner in total quality management, and a sought-after industry speaker in business improvement. Despite many challenges, the deployment results have exceeded all expectations to date —targets were reached 21 months ahead of the five-year plan, BMO won two 2007 WCBF Global Six Sigma Awards, and the deployment achieved extraordinary results towards BMO’s Green Environment initiatives. The ongoing success can be attributed to
  2. 2. Richard’s leadership, his ability to engage people at all levels across the organization, and the hard work of many people throughout Product Operations. Richard was challenged to rapidly develop a Six Sigma team of 15 Black Belts who reported to him. As the deployment mandate covered 19 operations centers in 10 cities across Canada and the United States, this geographic separation posed significant physical barriers for collaboration among the Six Sigma team members. As the deployment team is limited (15 full-time Black Belts supporting an organization with 3,500 operations employees), Richard has taken on dual roles. He fulfills all aspects of a deployment leader’s responsibilities as well as the role of Master Black Belt by providing coaching, mentoring and conducting tollgate reviews for all Black Belts and part-time Green Belts. Under Richard’s leadership, a robust deployment strategy has been put in place, the supporting infrastructure has been developed and implemented, and economic value has been generated through the completion of 252 projects to date. The deployment has achieved 116 percent of its savings target, 21 months ahead of schedule. The current cumulative hard savings total is $86 million based on a five-year benefit period and excludes all other soft benefits such as cost avoidance and future revenue generation. Taking the cumulative savings and applying the total deployment costs of $7.4 million incurred to date results in a simple return-on-investment of 1,164 percent, or 11.6 times
  3. 3. investment, up from 699 percent, or seven times investment one year ago. This represents an incredible internal rate of return (IRR) of 189 percent. The Lean Six Sigma deployment is sponsored by Karen Metrakos, Executive Vice President of Operations, and is fully endorsed by BMO’s Executive Management Committee, chaired by Bill Downe, President and CEO. Karen personally introduced Lean Six Sigma and holds her executive team accountable for the achievement of deployment results. BMO celebrated Earth Day on April 22, 2008 with the completion of a breakthrough Lean Enterprise project that eliminated significant volumes of report prints stacking as high as the CN Tower—one of the world’s tallest free-standing structures. This amounts to nearly 5.5 million sheets of paper annually, representing $1.5 million saved. Another in-flight project is targeting to reduce CO2 emissions by optimizing courier runs between BMO locations. The leaders of Lean Six Sigma at BMO have frequently taken the opportunity to share best practices with other organizations. The deployment co-hosted a two-day Lean Six Sigma Summit with Six Sigma Canada that brought together 60 delegates from Fortune 500 companies across North America. The Canadian Banks Forum, established by Richard in 2007, brings together over 40 delegates from across the major Canadian banks semi-annually. This forum supports an environment of professional business cooperation
  4. 4. and informal networking that addresses issues, shares best practices and identifies opportunities related to Lean Six Sigma. Richard shared BMO’s successful signature practices with the global Six Sigma community at various WCBF summits over the past two years. Finally, the deployment promoted the benefits of Lean Six Sigma at a BMO internal knowledge-sharing conference—“The Professional Excellence Symposium”—in 2007 and 2008. More than 1,000 people attended this annual conference across BMO. Richard Lam is a passionate advocate for Lean Six Sigma not only inside BMO but also outside the company. With a relentless focus on overcoming the deployment challenges, Richard and his team have achieved extraordinary results aligned with business goals and objectives. This has led to two visibly celebrated achievements: first, reaching the deployment’s financial targets 21 months ahead of its five-year deployment schedule, and second, winning WCBF Global Six Sigma awards. These achievements have generated credibility and significant interest for Lean Six Sigma business improvement in areas that were outside the deployment mandate. External organizations, including those from outside of the banking industry, have sought deployment advice from Richard Lam. This is the result of the deployment’s continued successes and it indicates that the deployment’s vision is becoming a reality.