Elements of Change Management with Lean Six Sigma

Change is the order of the day for all businesses. Stagnation leads to entrenched inefficiencies which, often enough, are capable of dragging a business down. Whether change comes in the form of new processes, new management or new clients, all businesses require the ability to adapt and make shifts as necessary. Unfortunately, overcoming organisational inertia can be a major challenge. Introducing Lean Six Sigma projects is a major change on its own, but the tools and systems it provides to a business can also facilitate changes and deliver long-term process improvements.

What is Change Management?

Change comes for all businesses. It is critical to the ongoing success of an organisation, although it often presents a range of technical and cultural problems that must be addressed. The role of a change management team is to successfully manage the shift. Using a dedicated team to manage change allows the process to be centrally controlled by leaders who understand what the change involves and can address any issues with the implementation.
Introducing Lean Six Sigma into a business is undoubtedly a change in and of itself, but the tools offered by Lean Six Sigma also act as an effective change management tool. In fact, change management forms an integral part of process improvement and greatly increases the likelihood that changes are sustainable and a long-term success.

Communicating the Nature of the Change

The major roadblock for most types of change is that the most affected employees lack an understanding of the nature of the change. Whether change takes the form of a new CEO, new processes, new technology, new clients or something else, employees are often left having to make changes blindly.

Altering the way employees work and how their results are measured can create significant cultural and technical friction. Without knowing the exact Why and How of the change, employees are left unmotivated to learn new processes and overcome their entrenched working behaviours. The good news is that when implementing Lean Six Sigma across an organisation, communicating the nature of the change is a mission-critical step. During the first phase of implementation, project sponsors are charged with clearly communicating the details of the change and helping the affected employees understand the Why and How of the project.

Understanding the Outcome and Benefits

Not all organisations have the time or resources to offer wide-scale Lean Six Sigma training to their employees. Instead, they rely on dedicated teams (often composed of Black Belt professionals from outside the organisation) to sponsor and deliver projects. While this system can deliver short-term benefits, it can be a struggle to create sustainable, ongoing change.
Including all employees in the Lean Six Sigma mindset makes everyone in the organisation responsible for the outcome and benefits. Assisting employees to understand the point of any changes helps them become invested in the outcome and proves to them the value of the project. Once they are convinced of the project’s benefits, employees are far more likely to overcome their own reluctance to change and work towards an outcome that benefits everyone involved.

Lean Six Sigma as a Change Management Tool

An effective deployment of Lean Six Sigma inherently creates organisational change. While the change delivers product and process improvements that are beneficial to everyone involved, entrenched patterns can be difficult to overcome.
This human element of change is the one that is most often overlooked by managers attempting to make changes. Ideally, Lean Six Sigma professionals are trained in change management, and they understand the importance of managing the people involved in the process. In most cases, an effective Lean Six Sigma project will be its own advocate. With effective communication that helps employees understand and become invested in the project, Lean Six Sigma can serve as both an organisational shift and a change management tool that facilitates the shift.


Create Effective Change With Lean Six Sigma Training from Thornley Group

Inspiring change among entrenched employees presents a challenge, even for experienced process improvement teams. Properly managing projects and the change they bring is critical. Thornley Group offers a range of Lean Six Sigma training solutions designed to help organisations implement sustainable change and deliver long-term improvements to their business. Our instructors are experienced in the real world deployment of Lean Six Sigma projects and how to manage the accompanying changes. For more information on our training programs and corporate solutions, please feel free to contact Thornley Group at any time.

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