Why do Lean/Six Sigma initiatives fail? What can be done to resurrect them? This was the topic of a recent article by Bill Wilder, published in Industry Week. According to Wilder, a common source of failure with Lean/Six Sigma initiatives is not quite doing enough to make the changes stick.

Old habits die hard, Wilder notes. Your employees have a way of doing their jobs. It’s “the way they’ve always done it.” And changing those ways is certainly a task that must be monitored and consistently reinforced in order to ensure success with the initiative. There are some things that Wilder says will help reinforce those changes. One includes engagement and coaching — keeping the employees involved in the changes that are taking place and giving them someone who is encouraging them and lending them expertise every step of the way.

Another way to avoid a failed Lean/ Six Sigma initiative is to structure and manage the change. It’s a lot easier to implement a change when you not only see the goal that you’re trying to achieve, but also the path in which to achieve that goal. A path, or — more accurately — a process must be developed that clearly shows how this change will take place.

Finally, Wilder says, a successful Lean/ Six Sigma initiative relies on communication that both relates an individual’s behavior to the achievement of the company goal, and also provides a means for individuals to give feedback and reaction to the communications.

Consistent monitoring. Engagement and coaching. A path to follow. Open lines of communication. If you’re wondering what is “enough” when it comes to success with Lean/Six Sigma, these four principles are an important place to start.

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