|Why you should choose Lean Six Sigma (LSS)
Some have argued that the fundamental approach with LSS is the reduction in variation in the desired output by controlling critical input variables. Arul agrees with this, quoting Jack Welch’s “Variation is Evil” line. Where Six Sigma reduces the variation that affects the quality of a product or service, it is LSS which reduces the variation in the speed of delivery.
It’s not speed for the sake of it. Lean emphasises that speed is directly tied to excellence, assert Mary and Tom Poppendieck. (2). What is it then, that constitutes the desired output metrics in the HR context ? Boldly speaking, Arul argues, it is the top-line and bottom-line growth. The stuff that maximises the market to book value of an organisation. This may sound overwhelming to you if you’re not yet at the boardroom or lack P&L responsibility. As complicated as it looks however, the effort is worth its weight in gold. It is Arul’s belief that HR’s output should be measured based on its ability to change and drive the top -line and bottom-line indicators in a positive direction.
As Arul explains , “…the inability of people to change, especially under the current global economic situation will result in the negative growth of the top-line and bottom-line indicators. Typically it could lead to redundancies, workforce reductions when really what we need to consider at this point in time is investing in our people, developing that ability to change and using skills and toolsets from Lean to drive this change.”
The reason for LSS as the primary lever is because it offers a structured problem-solving approach. It forces you to cultivate data-driven decision making. And the way in which it does so is through a vigorous communication and execution framework known as DMAIC (which stands for Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve and Control).
||Where HR comes into play
Here, I come back to my original question – what can HR gain from it? Anyone with problems to solve and waste to eliminate can find benefit in LSS. But where HR truly has some value is the fact that LSS needs to have the executive breath of life flowing through its lungs to succeed. Why? As in any enterprise-wide initiative, it is the people selection and development that has the biggest impact. Strategy poorly executed by lacklustre people fails. And who better to bring this all together than the HR team. HR is the fulcrum. Your job as a HR practitioner is to get involved. Lead the charge and be the point at which the strategy and the execution thereof come together in seamless fashion.
LSS can apply to almost every facet of a business, from the development of a corporate strategy, to improving sales to service quality. However, like any initiative we undertake, it needs leadership and executive mandate. Training a few specialists, obtaining a couple of black belts is only part of what is a long and dedicated process to reaching this level of achievement. It’s about organisation-wide transformation from the inside out. It’s about everyone seeing and believing in what LSS can do. And that only happens when the key people dig in and get involved.
Look at it this way. You in HR, are the coach of this team. You’re selecting the best players. You’re assessing the players’ key strengths and weaknesses and placing them accordingly. You’re crafting a plan of attack. You’re training them, you’re getting them fit. The deployment of LSS in one successful project or department will create a team of specialists in LSS methodology. People who can move around to other parts of the business and demonstrate even further value. Yes, this comes back to the transactional elements of your job as you move people around. But now, this process involves developing leaders and this is your value proposition moving forward.