Treating the practitioners as experts


The company I worked for decided to roll out Six Sigma. The thinking was a concern that there was too much waste in the processes. The countermeasure was Six Sigma. But the thinking was very flawed – what about the causes of waste? Has a countermeasure been applied before causes established?

Thinking A Project Better

I developed a very simple approach to process improvement based on the following thinking:

  • Treating people who work in processes as experts.
  • People don’t resist change, they resist being changed.
  • We don’t want to motivate people, we want to create an environment where they can motivate themselves.
  • Achievement is the number one motivator (Herzberg). The latter has resulted in making implementation/achievement happen as soon as possible, driven by the team.

This thinking, based on simple psychology, not tools, is a fundemantal change of approach that afforded a great simplicity. All that happens during a process improvement workshop is that the team

Really Understand Your Project

  • Write down step by step by what they actually do (not what the procedure says) from start to finish of the process.
  • Then list problems and frustrations they have experienced in the process.
  • Then brainstorm ideas for improvement (usually between 50 and 100).
  • Then take the simplest ideas first and implement them.
  • Then meet up once a week to continue as a team to implement further ideas.

Experience of this approach revealed processes that were riddled with waste in the form of simple causes that the team could easily address without Six Sigma tools.

Reap the benefits of better thinking

The results were amazing – for example, doubling the capacity of an internal grind machine in two days, reducing the lead time by 36% of an office process. And happy people!! By chance, before one workshop, an employee satisfaction survey had been carried out with 30% of the people in the team saying they are satisfied with the job. After the workshop when many of the ideas had been implemented, 90% said they were satisfied.

The thinking of the facilitator changes dramatically here too – he/she is not the expert leading the team. Instead, the facilitator leads a team of experts.

By Simon Haas


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