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Why does some Six Sigma training fail?


Let's be honest. Lean & Six Sigma can confuse the hell out of people! The stats can be incredibly dry - especially if they're not explained in context.

I've spoken to a lot of people over the years who've told me they've attended a Lean or Six Sigma training course, only to be completely stumped on how to apply what they've learned when they get back to the office.

In worst case scenarios,  people try to apply Six Sigma without a proper working understanding - make errors - and are put off the methodology for life.

How can you avoid a Six Sigma Training FAIL?

The benefits of a Six Sigma Management system can be enormous. Implemented properly, Lean and Six Sigma can make a positive impact on a business that will ensure processes are continuously improved, giving you a distinct competitive advantage over the competition. Focusing on and making improvements to the areas of your business that add most value to the customer can really differentiate your product or service - particularly in commoditised industries where service can be the key differentiator.

Giving people the chance to implement what they are learning on a process that is familiar to them can be the key to Six Sigma training success.

Providing people with real-world situations instead of abstract Six Sigma case studies achieves two things:

  • It enables people to see how Six Sigma tools work in a way that they can immediately understand
  • It increases the likelihood that Lean and Six Sigma activities will succeed early on which can be invaluable in generating momentum and enthusiasm for the methodologies

How can you make sure that learning happens effectively on Six Sigma courses?

Here are some simple things that you can do to make sure that Six Sigma training is effective - we've split this in to tips for public Six Sigma courses (with mixed groups) and bespoke or in-house training:

Public Six Sigma Courses:

Public Six Sigma courses should be interactive and contain lots of Lean and Six Sigma games to keep learners engaged.

It's also very important to encourage delegates to share experiences and work issues rather than using set case studies. This increases the likelihood that real solutions to real problems will come out of the training. Encourage attendees to work as individuals, in small teams, and as a whole group as appropriate.

Bespoke Six Sigma Courses:

Tailored or in-company training offers a valuable opportunity to apply Lean and Six Sigma tools exclusively to a real project or projects. This is known as Action Learning, and we use it as much as we are able at Silicon Beach Training to ensure our Six Sigma courses are effective.

By selecting a project that would clearly benefit from Lean and Six Sigma, and which may generate some quick wins, means that delegates can apply their learning directly to the context of their roles.  

To achieve this it is often useful to split Six Sigma courses in to modules that are delivered throughout the course of a real project, with gaps of between 2-4 weeks between sessions. Typically - it works well to cover Define and Measure (from DMAIC) - then to have delegates undertake real data collection before coming back to cover Analyse, Improve and Control - using the real data for analysis.

At Silicon Beach we've worked this way with many of our clients, who have seen real improvements, cost reductions and improved profitibility immediately after their courses as a result.

With careful project selection (which we play an active role in with our clients) courses are more effective. We also try to make sure that training is supported at all levels - especially from directors and project sponsors - right down to process operators who are responsible for collecting the data.

For this reason we often provide Six Sigma Champions & Executives training for directors, and Yellow Belt training for process teams, to make sure that Six Sigma is sipported at all levels on an ongoing basis and delivers true continuous improvement.

Find out more about our Six Sigma Courses

We've also recently launched a Six Sigma Training mini-site - with even more resources.

Read about how the action learning approach worked in practice at Hachette UK in this Six Sigma Case Study

For more information call Colin Welch on 01273 622272

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