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By Barry Jeffrey, Mar 11 2015 11:38AM

1. Lean Sigma is not easy. If it was everyone would be implementing it.

Process improvement takes a great deal of effort. Be sure you are clear about this. However for the organisations that have the strength and vision, the rewards far outstrip the initial pain.

2. Lean Sigma is more about cultural rather than physical change.

The real power of Lean Sigma lies in developing a culture of long term improvement and constantly challenging the norm. This will only happen when the culture of a business looks to everyone to help. Physical change should be looked at as the outcome of this process.

3. Get everyone involved.

Do not rely on a few ‘trained’ Lean experts to make changes. This will only serve to annoy people in the long run. Employ teachers to educate people to look for waste and opportunity as part of their day to day thinking.

4. Lean Sigma is about learning by doing.

Give permission for people to experiment and learn. To make mistakes from time to time is good, so long are you learning from it.

5. Make sure of your direction.

Before you start, make sure you align your efforts to your business goals. Make sure you know what you want success to look like,

6. Use the expertise of a consultant to accelerate the process, not as a crutch.

Use experts to help you in the initial stages. The right consultant will provide you with a depth of experience in starting the deployment process off in a controlled manner and also coach your organisation along the way. But do not rely on them longer term. Plan to put a framework in place.

7. Continuous Improvement is a journey, not a race or a competition.

Do not look at becoming a lean organisation as something you can achieve overnight. Companies like Toyota have been doing this for many years and still find huge opportunities for improvement. The more you look the more you see.

8. Leadership is exactly that, Leadership. Do not delegate it.

Lean Sigma will require people to think and perform differently. Change needs to be driven from the top. All of the senior team needs to be seen to be fully "Engaged". That means process improvement activities are in the schedules and that turn up and show genuine interest and remove roadblocks not create them.

By Barry Jeffrey, Dec 18 2014 11:19AM

Selecting the right consultant for your business needs is not always easy. All consultants will claim to have a good level of knowledge of Lean, but this is not always enough. A good Lean Sigma Consultant will have built up a sound working knowledge over a number of years of actual implementation. It’s not enough for a consultant to have two or three successful clients. The implementation Lean techniques will be different for industry sectors and companies because the business environments vary significantly.

Look for consultants who have successfully implemented Lean in twenty or more companies in diverse industries. In addition to having solid implement experience, the best consultants will also have good corporate level experience and is well-grounded in the realities of the business world.

Secondly, credibility is vital as normally a good Lean consultant will spend significant time working at all levels of the organisation. This means he or she must be able to develop a good relationship with the organisation quickly. This is much easier when the consultant has an established level of credibility and a proven track record Take time to find out about previous accomplishments; the type of clients they have worked with to date; the length of time it took to achieve maximum results. A successful consultant must have the skills to convince employees at all levels, from the boardroom to the shop floor.

Remember that consultants have different capabilities and come in all sizes and shapes. Similar to any other profession, generally the best value is not always the least expensive. Low cost consultants may appear to offer value for money, and may be able to implement lean principles and transform your business practices to world-class operation, and could save you thousands. But the reality is this may also cost costing you millions in missed opportunities.

In Summary, you should only look for the best consultants with the skills and experience to achieve outstanding results. Make sure you choose the right Lean sigma Consultant for the right reasons. This will ensure that you have experts that will partner with you to ensure that you gain the maximum from the process of continuous business improvement and generate substantial returns not only in a short time, but also on an on-going basis, year on year.