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Strength Based Lean Six Sigma


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This is a transcription of the Business901 podcast, A Strength Based approach to Lean and Six Sigma. Using various strength-based approaches such as Appreciative Inquiry, David Shaked of Almond-Insight has created a radically different way to approach Lean Six Sigma.

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Strength Based Lean Six Sigma

  1. 1. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systems Strength Based approach to Lean and Six Sigma Guest was David Shaked Related Podcast: Strength Based approach to Lean and Six Sigma Strength Based approach to Lean and Six Sigma Copyright Business901
  2. 2. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsDavid Shaked established Almond Insight in 2008. They workwith organizations to help them change for the better. AlmondInsight is different from other "change managers". They involveand inspire people so they become more engaged and supportwhat needs to change. This way, they ensure a positive outcomeboth to those involved and to the organization. With over twelve year’s practical experience, he has a strong track record with organizations such as Johnson & Johnson, Intel, 3M and IBM. He has worked all across Europe, the USA and the Middle East and his experience includes working with individuals and groups at all levels. His expertise lies in applying improvement tools in a practical and approachable way to solve business challenges in sales, marketing, finance, customer services,distribution and human resources.He holds a Bachelor degree in Accounting and Economics fromthe Hebrew University of Jerusalem and an MBA from the RedMcCombs School of Business at the University of Texas-Austin.He is a certified Master Black Belt and is about to become acertified Appreciative Inquiry Practitioner by NTL. Following is a Transcription of the Podcast Strength Based approach to Lean and Six Sigma Copyright Business901
  3. 3. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsJoe Dager: Welcome everyone; this is Joe Dager, the host ofBusiness901 podcast. With me today is David Shaked of AlmondInsight. David is an experience organizational change andbusiness improvement leader with multinational corporations andan innovator in the application of Strength-Based approaches tochange through Appreciative Inquiry, Lean, and Six Sigma.David, could you give me a quick introduction of yourself?David Shaked: Thank you, first of all for having for me. Myname is David Shaked and I started my own business, AlmondInsight, about five years ago. Almond Insight is basically myconsultancy and I work with partners, as well. The purpose ofsetting it up is to do what I call Strength-Based Lean Six Sigma.Which, Im sure well talk about later. I’ve combined everythingthat Ive accumulated in terms of tools and approaches, ways ofthinking and the work that I do into one company, one businessthat I can refer to and promote.Joe: Talking about the Strength-Based approach. I have to firstask you, how did you start? Did you start as a Lean Six Sigmaguy, or did you start as an Appreciative Inquiry person first?David: I started very much in the world of Lean Six Sigma, oreven beforehand Process Improvement, Process Re-Engineering.Thats been most of my experience up to the point where Ivediscovered A.I. I had more than 10 years of working in Lean SixSigma and the last eight years were with a big corporation,Johnson & Johnson. I was a Master Black Belt there, which isquite a scary title. My focus was very much in the transactionalarea of Lean Six Sigma, anything that is outside ofmanufacturing. Primarily it was in sales and marketing, improvingsales process, marketing processes, a little bit on the othersupport functions like HR, IT, and finance.Also, Ive done a little work on the distribution side. How you takecustomer orders and make sure they arrive to the customer. Strength Based approach to Lean and Six Sigma Copyright Business901
  4. 4. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsJoe: When you worked in transactional processes, did you workimproving a certain process in sales and marketing, such as a callcenter and improving that process? Is that how you applied LeanSix Sigma in that area?David: Absolutely. Also, improving the work those sales reps didon the ground, or the marketing that we do with customers,because a lot of the sales we did in Johnson & Johnson was faceto face rather than online or through phone orders. Ive done alot of work with sales reps, with sales managers, looking at theprocesses that they use. A lot of these processes are humanbased, based on conversations, interactions. Theyre not asautomated or standardized as, say, some of the more automated,online processes. Ive done some of them, as well.Joe: Could you pick an area and tell me how you applied SixSigma to sales and marketing?David: I can tell you about the very first green belt project I did,which was actually quite innovative at the time. I started with itwhen Six Sigma was very much associated with manufacturing.My job, when I joined Johnson & Johnson was actually tointroduce Six Sigma anywhere outside the manufacturing side,and primarily in sales. The very first project was to analyze whatmakes a good sales call, or a sales visit with a customer. How toincrease the ratio or the success rates of sales calls. So, we didthe whole DMAIC cycle there, define, measure, analyze, all ofthat, and achieved some very interesting conclusions of whatmakes a good sales call, what preparations is needed.Also, because we were looking at defects at the time, so, moreanalyzing what prevents a sales call from being a good sales call?Looked at, where did we go wrong in terms of the sales call itself.A lot of it was about the targeting. Who do we target for the salescall, and why do we target them? What message are we going tocommunicate to them? Strength Based approach to Lean and Six Sigma Copyright Business901
  5. 5. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsJoe: How did the sales and marketing people react, initially, to aSix Sigma guy and a Master Black Belt coming in there toimprove their process?David: Suspiciously, the biggest challenge at the time, lookingback, Ive done a good job in that is translating the language,because the language of Six Sigma is not natural to a lot of salesand marketing people. Its actually taking the language and someof the tools. A lot of sales people believe that its only aboutrelationships and its an art. You either have it or not. A lot of it istrue, but even the greatest artists in the world still have to mixtheir paints correctly and theres a lot of science in that, and setup the light and everything else that comes into great paintingsbefore they apply their artistic side.Joe: You think about standard work a lot of times when youthink about Lean. Can standard work be applied to the sales andmarketing arena?David: It can be, to a certain degree. At the end of the day, it isa human interaction. It is a conversation, so theres very littleyou can actually control there. But in terms of your preparation,you can definitely standardize it, or standardize the processyoure going through. You can standardize some of the questionsyou might ask, some of the content, some of the information thatyou have about the customer and about the products youretrying to sell. You can standardize your response to the sales callitself. There are a lot of things you can standardize. Then yourealize that, to be honest, theres no such thing as Six Sigma inthese processes, and youre just better off moving from half asigma to a sigma. Youre already making a big difference.Joe: Thats what a lot of people dont realize. I always talk aboutjust using the basic seven quality tools will get you to threesigma, five sigma, probably. Thats plenty for sales andmarketing. Strength Based approach to Lean and Six Sigma Copyright Business901
  6. 6. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsDavid: Absolutely. Theres so much variation there, and its notso much about reducing that variation, because you actually wantthat richness of conversation. But you want to standardize whatyou can standardize, and really base it on the best practices,rather than analyzing what the defects are.Joe: Did you find something lacking in Lean and Six Sigma inthe transactional processes?David: I dont think it was lacking in anything. I got good resultsand I have huge respect for Lean and Six Sigma. Ive used it forso long, and it wasnt lacking. The only thing that I did noticeafter a while is that, A, you cannot apply it in every situation, andB, a lot of the stuff becomes repetitive. I would solve a problemin one area, but it would generate another problem elsewhere.Or, I would solve a problem in one area and then, I would see theexact same problem in a different area. It became a bit repetitiveafter a while, and thats what kicked me towards discoveringwhat else is out there in terms of driving change in organizations.Joe: Is that what brought you to Appreciative Inquiry, first?David: It did. It was a journey of discovery, but I saw myself asa change leader, as someone who leads change into individuals inteams, or in whole organizations. Once I realized thats who I am,I let go of the attachment to Lean and Six Sigma and allowedother things, and one of them was AI. I went to a workshopabout AI. That was six years ago, so not too long, and that was afabulous experience. Very deep, very interesting, very powerful,as well in terms of the insights I got out of it. At the same time, itreally clashed with everything that I knew from the world of Leanand Six Sigma.Joe: Well, it seems like Lean and Six Sigma is driven by problemsolving and looking for problems, and Appreciative Inquiry issaying, "No, no, no!" "Lets look at the good things." What dothey have in common? Strength Based approach to Lean and Six Sigma Copyright Business901
  7. 7. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsDavid: They actually do have a lot in common. In the journey,that I went with AI and then, later on with other Strength-Basedtools, it took me a while to be able to merge the two things. Butwhat they do have in common is the desire for improvement.Also, if you look at some of the principles of Lean, for example, orthe mission that is behind Six Sigma, the principles in Lean wouldlike to see flow. You would like to see value to customer. Youdlike to see pull versus push. Youd like to see continuousimprovement, and Six Sigma is all about quality. All of thesethings that Ive just said are very positive.Theyre not in complete misalignment with AI. AI is also verypositive oriented. What confused me initially and what mightconfuse others is the language we use, or the ways we use, theapproaches we use to get there. In Lean Six Sigma, I wouldactually analyze the defects or the wastes in order to get to valueand quality.Whereas in AI, I would actually look at where are we alreadycreating value or where do we already have some quality? Then,build on that. If you actually look at the end result of what we aretrying to drive, youll see that theyre very much aligned. Its onlythe road we take to getting there, which is different.Joe: I relate that a somewhat to the Shainin methodology, whichisnt practiced very often, but its taken these positive things, andyou dont address a lot of those Xs. You narrow things down byworking with the Ys of what you want for the outcomes. Is thatan approach similar to how you blend AI and Lean and SixSigma?David: It is. The way I blend it is very different for eachsituation. There are many ways to do that. Some of it is moreabout the thinking, the end result, what it is that we are trying toachieve here, and therefore lets focus on where it already exists.In other cases its just using the old familiar tools that we know, Strength Based approach to Lean and Six Sigma Copyright Business901
  8. 8. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsbut applying AI thinking to them.Joe: Can you expand on one of the ways that you integrate thetwo?David: AI is really a whole organizational, whole systemapproach, which is by the way, very aligned with Lean. So Leanwould look at the whole organization, our whole process, ratherthan chunks of it. How I blend it depends on the situation. Forexample, if you work with a whole organization, you can startwith setting up a vision of quality and efficiency, using pure AIand then implementing that with either classic Lean Six Sigma, orthe Strength-Based approach, which is what Im doing. Eitherway you do it, you are driving towards a vision that is shared byeveryone and is engaging with everyone, because youve done itthrough an AI process.Now, the vision of quality and efficiency that youre creating canbe part of a bigger strategic plan, for example. We dontnecessarily have to focus just on quality and efficiency, butquality and efficiency are ways to get to something else.That was on a whole organizational level. There may be a projector a Kaizen event where you can also apply that thinking. You canuse it in specific tools, for example. I often do process maps withStrength-Based thinking, or something I call a wishbone analysis,which is obviously based on the fish-bone analysis.I also do the seven signs of value, which is a tool that Ivecreated based on the seven wastes. Lots of different ways, itreally depends on the situation, but what it enabled me is thehuge freedom to play with Lean Six Sigma and be creative with it.Joe: Why would I want to combine the two? Whats theadvantage?David: For me, primarily, the first thing is, what AI brings to the Strength Based approach to Lean and Six Sigma Copyright Business901
  9. 9. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsplay is creativity, energy, innovation, and huge engagement.People always love to talk about their best experiences, thesuccesses they had, the knowledge they already have. Thats ahuge contribution that AI gives. Lean Six Sigma obviously bringsthe methodical way of working at situations. If you combine thetwo of them, youre actually creating a brilliant way of solvingbusiness problems, organizational challenges, process issues, in amuch more engaging and creative way. I still remember when Ipracticed classically, Lean Six Sigma. Once you start thatconversation about wastes, youre creating a threat and you get alot of people who are disengaged with it.Even if I try to blame someone else, or the people who designedthe process originally, I still create some sort of a threat forpeople. Its not intentional, but just the language that is used,"wastes," or "defects," its already threatening to anyone Iengage with. They close down, and the creativity is not as greatas it can be with AI.Joe: I had a Master Black Belt when I mentioned about the AIand combined it with Lean and Six Sigma and came back andsaid, "Oh, its just like playing soccer and not keeping score. Itsjust a feel-good type thing and everything." How would youanswer someone like that?David: I get that a lot. A good Lean Six Sigma resource wouldbe a belt or sensei or whatever it is, and I was just like that so,Im not saying its any different than what I was a few years ago.Lean Six Sigma people think in a way of lets find whats wastefulabout anything that is in front of us, or lets find what is defectiveabout it. When you introduce AI to a Lean Six Sigma person youwould get them asking, immediately questioning whats wrongabout it, rather than trying to play with the possibilities. Thatsthe first thing. The best way to introduce it to an organizationthat is really keen on Lean Six Sigma is you can just as well buildon what you already know and already do and just add that extra Strength Based approach to Lean and Six Sigma Copyright Business901
  10. 10. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsmagic and energy of AI.Its not contradicting in any way its not a threat its actuallyhelping the Lean Six Sigma journey get to a better level in myview.Joe: David, could you expand on the seven signs of value andwhat you were trying to accomplish with it?David: This is one of the things that I learned from AI. AI reallyemphasizes that what you ask, you get more of. If you startasking questions about wastes and trying to look for wastes inyour system, you will find more waste and you will possibly evencreate new waste. Ive used the seven wastes, or eight wastes, orthere are so many versions of the tool, seven wastes so manydifferent situations in the past. Once I embarked on the journeyof AI I actually realized, wait a minute, am I actually settingmyself up for failure? Am I creating more waste by asking aboutthe waste and trying to look for it?That led me to this train of thought which led to why dont weactually look for where is the value? In all of the Kaizen eventsand everything that I have done in Lean, we very rarely looked atthe value. Even when we identify where value is created weactually never even inquired how come we do it or what enablesall that.I started thinking about where is value created and how would Iknow that Im creating value and thats what led me to theseseven signs of value. Which in a way its the flipside of the sevenwastes but because you started asking about them, youregenerating more value. In a way, the opposite of defects which isone of the wastes, would be perfect outcomes.Where in my process am I actually creating perfect outcomes? Ifyoure talking about excessive movement, where in my processare things placed in a way that dont require that movement, that Strength Based approach to Lean and Six Sigma Copyright Business901
  11. 11. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsthey are so close to each other that you dont need to movethings around.All of these seven wastes can be translated. I actually wrote anarticle about it, which is available to anyone who wants it, whichspecifies these seven signs of value. How to look for value andhow to find it? The conversations youre having as you discoveredmore and more value, its a great conversation, its motivating,it’s engaging, and it gives people more idea on where else canthey create value. Which is really what were after when weretalking about Lean?Joe: Thats so well said, because we dont go after what valuewere creating so often. Were always looking for the non-valueinstead of promoting the value and that is the Strength-Basedapproach isnt it?David: It is. I use a common metaphor if you like for that and Iexplain to people, it is like making a cake. Imagine youroperations, that process in front of you as a cake. The Leanthinking way or the Six Sigma way would be, lets look at thiscake and find the tasteless part or the things we used too muchof in preparing the cake. I would look for whats not tasty, whatsnot useful, did I use to much flour in the process of making thecake and all of that, and by this process I will start removingthings from my cake and who knows I might actually leave it withholes.Whereas, in my Strength-Based approach, when you apply theStrength-Based process or thinking to the cake, you will thinkwell whats really good about this cake? What are the tasty bitsand how can I make an even tastier cake based on what I knowthat makes cakes tasty? I would find the raisins or thestrawberries or whatever it is I have on my cake and find how doI do more of that rather than focusing on where did I waste stuff?Joe: The Ben and Jerrys approach to ice cream. I dont know if Strength Based approach to Lean and Six Sigma Copyright Business901
  12. 12. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsyoure familiar with Ben and Jerry or not.David: Absolutely and I love it.Joe: Do you think in the transactional process and morespecifically, in the sales and marketing process, do they lendthemselves to attaching themselves to this type of improvementover, Lean and Six Sigma by themselves?David: Absolutely. It is the easiest space to play with. First ofall, as I said sales and marketing are very much humaninteraction-based to a very large degree. Its hard to automatethem and its a lot easier to think of them as conversations.Thats in immediate alignment with Strength-Based thinking. Alsosales people and marketing people tend to, I dont want togeneralize, but they tend to like talking about their successes andthe best features of their products and the highlights rather thantheir failures, defects, wastes.In a way, the language that Im using when I use Strength-Basedapproach to Lean Six Sigma is very natural to the language thatis used in sales and marketing and that already makes it a lotmore accessible.Joe: What has been some of your positive outcomes of usingthis approach?David: The best outcomes were amazing ideas that came upand a complete way of thinking about the problems. Some peoplethink that AI Is ignoring problems, so it is important for me tosay AI is not ignoring problems. Its actually solving this problemin another way. The same goes for Strength-Based Lean SixSigma. The successes Ive had is, Ive had a wonderful Kaizenevent that went incredibly well and generated ideas that werenever thought about in the organizations beforehand. Ive had apiece of work with an Internet service provider that created ahuge, completely different way of thinking about customer Strength Based approach to Lean and Six Sigma Copyright Business901
  13. 13. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemscomplaints. They were looking at how to minimize the customercomplaints they had.Typically, what you notice immediately is the creativity. Creativityand later on what you see also is the energy for implementation.You get people really excited to implement what they thoughtabout, which was something that I always had to push andmotivate afterwards, when I used to do the classic Lean SixSigma.Joe: Im going to put you on the spot here. Im a company. Ima Lean Six Sigma company. I say, "OK, I want some help fromyou on how to shorten my sale cycle." How would you approachthat person?David: In my Strength-Based approach, first of all, I would findmore about the situation. Because typically what you would findis, they would look at an average score. Within that average youwould find people who actually have a very short sales cycle anda very long sale cycle. I would immediately look at who has avery short sales cycle. What enables that? Whos involved? Whatare they doing that is correct and efficient and helps them closethe sales more efficiently. That would give me a completelydifferent view of shortening a sale cycle, than if I went after thosewho have the longer sale cycle and look at whats causing thewaste or slowing them down.Joe: Is this the main thrust of Almond Insight, the Strength-Based approach is this what you do there?David: It is very much so, and Id like to see myself as havingstarted a movement in terms of Strength-Based Lean Six Sigmabecause it is a movement now, there are other people that areactive and involved and my business is very much dedicated tothat. Its to driving a different way of thinking about ourprocesses; getting to the same results, quality, flow, value tocustomers. Were still committed to that. How do you do it in a Strength Based approach to Lean and Six Sigma Copyright Business901
  14. 14. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsway that is not scary, stressful, threatening in anyway? I know itwasnt the original intent of Lean thinking. Right now, you hear alot of talk about removing waste and thats associated with losingjobs. Its not really healthy. Its not healthy to people or theirorganizations.Joe: I paint this scenario and this is my own personal thoughtshere. Making things better, faster, cheaper, is a tough process tobuild on anymore. Thats why youre seeing the movementtowards innovation. Innovation is driving successful companies.Better, faster, cheaper, that process mythology of the 90s andthe early 2000s, you can only do that for a short time periodbecause someone catches up right away.David: Were seeing it now in China as well. Even someone elseis catching up with China now. Whereas, China used to do thingscheaper, better, faster, they cant compete now with theircompetitors. We are shifting to a very different way of operatingand it is about this paradigm shift of moving from the technicallook of the world to a more human based and innovative way.Joe: Thats where that Strength-Based plays into it a lot, buttheres one other thing that I want to mention that was onanother podcast of mine, that I think fits into this is, they saythat you cant be good at everything. In traditional Lean SixSigma world, youre always trying to be excellent at everythingand thats really tough to do from a budget, from a man-power,from a customer viewpoint, everything. The Strength-Basedseems to play into this that you really concentrate on what is themost important thing to your customer and what you do from thepositive standpoint rather than just looking at the negative.David: In the Lean Six Sigma world, we say between five and 30percent of the process is generating value, the rest is waste. Wefocus so much on the waste, and we forget that we actually aregenerating value. If I actually, focus on the five percent, on the Strength Based approach to Lean and Six Sigma Copyright Business901
  15. 15. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsreal positive core of my operation and my process, I can findways of expanding those five percent to possibly 10 percent, to20 percent and who knows how far I can get, but it will get me alot farther than trying to squeeze those 70 percent.Joe: You have a LinkedIn group on Strength-Based Lean SixSigma?David: Yes, thats something that I started about three yearsago. Its a group on LinkedIn called Strength-Based Lean SixSigma. It was a way to connect to people and start spreading theidea and start this movement that I call the Strength-Basedapproach to Lean Six Sigma. The group is very active there areabout 400 members now, and its growing regularly and its reallysatisfying to see it. I have some very active members fromaround the world. Anywhere from Australia to Europe, to the US,to South America, I have lots of members there and theconversations are fantastic.For me it is a tool to A, create a profile for the topic and thisunique approach and also to connect with people and sharestories. I post all my knowledge there and questions if we haveand we help each other. Its a very nice group and very active, aswell.Joe: Is there something that you would like to add to thisconversation that maybe I didnt ask?David: I can tell you about the public speaking that I do on thistopic so if thats of interest. I speak about this topic inconferences or within organizations depending on the interest.Im going to deliver a couple of workshops in Toronto in June. Ifpeople are interested then, they can get in touch with me and Ican give them the details. Im also actually working on a book onthis topic which I hope to launch later on this year and its prettymuch laying the possibilities and the connections between classicLean Six Sigma and all the Strength-Based approaches. Strength Based approach to Lean and Six Sigma Copyright Business901
  16. 16. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsBy the way, there are also other approaches that I use. Its notjust AI. I also use something called solution focus, positivedeviants, and couple of tools from the strength movement andpositive psychology. Theres a lot that goes into Strength-BasedLean Six Sigma but theyre all enabling the exact same results wewant to see in the classic world of Lean Six Sigma.Joe: Whats the best way for someone to contact you?David: They can get me online through LinkedIn David Shakedor they can email me to and they cancall me of course. Theres lots of ways to get in touch. They canalso join the LinkedIn group that I mentioned, which is namedStrength-Based Lean Six Sigma.Joe: Whats your website again?David: My website is www.almond-Insight.comJoe: Id like to thank you very much, David. I appreciate thetime and you had some wonderful ideas on Strength-Based LeanSix Sigma. Thank you again.David: Thank you very much Joe and thank you for theopportunity to do this podcast. Strength Based approach to Lean and Six Sigma Copyright Business901
  17. 17. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systems Joseph T. Dager Lean Marketing Systems Ph: 260-438-0411 Fax: 260-818-2022 Email: Web/Blog: Twitter: @business901 What others say: In the past 20 years, Joe and I have collaborated on many difficult issues. Joes ability to combine his expertise with "out of the box" thinking is unsurpassed. He has always delivered quickly, cost effectively and withingenuity. A brilliant mind that is always a pleasure to work with." James R.Joe Dager is President of Business901, a progressive company providingdirection in areas such as Lean Marketing, Product Marketing, ProductLaunches and Re-Launches. As a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt,Business901 provides and implements marketing, project and performanceplanning methodologies in small businesses. The simplicity of a singleflexible model will create clarity for your staff and as a result betterexecution. My goal is to allow you spend your time on the need versus theplan.An example of how we may work: Business901 could start with aconsulting style utilizing an individual from your organization or a virtualassistance that is well versed in our principles. We have capabilities toplug virtually any marketing function into your process immediately. Asproficiencies develop, Business901 moves into a coach’s role supporting theprocess as needed. The goal of implementing a system is that the processeswill become a habit and not an event.Business901 Podcast Opportunity Expert Status Strength Based approach to Lean and Six Sigma Copyright Business901