Many organizations have embraced Lean Six Sigma or other process improvement methodologies in their organizations to enhance speed to market, business alignment, lowering operating costs and improving quality. However, organizations have met with varied success of Lean Six Sigma, not because of any deficiencies in the methodology, principles or tools, but in the design and execution of the program.
The Six Sigma Leadership Engagement Framework (S-SLEF) was developed by the author based on the research literature and her extensive practical experience with industry (Furterer, 2017). Three critical elements are part of the framework:
The sponsorship component includes clearly designing the role of executive leaders in their organization, communication of a consistent message with regards to the Six Sigma program and ensuring cultural alignment of the quality principles and the organization’s cultural values.
The role of the executive sponsors of the Six Sigma program is to:
The governance provides the infrastructure for how the company organizes the Six Sigma program. There are many different governance approaches; one possible governance structure is shown in figure 1. In this structure, the executive sponsors execute their role through a process council. A process transformation team guides the program training and execution. Trained Six Sigma Green Belts are embedded within the organization to improve processes. A process network provides learning, builds support for the process transformation team, and networking opportunities to connect the embedded Green Belts to the process transformation team.
Figure 1 Governance Structure Example
Strategic alignment is realized through a Strategic Business Process Architecture (SBPA) (Furterer, 2009, a, b) (Furterer, 2014), shown in Figure 2. The SBPA incorporates Meta models that can be used to model and align the strategies, processes, leadership and information elements.
Figure 2: Strategic Business Process Architecture (SBPA) Meta Models
The Six Sigma Leadership Engagement Framework (S-SLEF) supports the key drivers identified in the literature and through industry process. It keeps the organization focused on what is important to make the organization’s Six Sigma program successful. It maintains consistent messaging and communication at all levels of the enterprise. It ensures cultural alignment and movement towards the continuous improvement principles. It provides visibility to performance results and program success, and it enables rewards and celebration of process transformation success.
Sandy Furterer is an Associate Professor at the University of Dayton, in the Department of Engineering Management, Systems and Technology. She recently came from industry as a VP of Process Transformation for Park National Bank in Columbus, Ohio. Dr. Furterer received her Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering with a specialization in Quality Engineering from the University of Central Florida in 2004. She received an MBA from Xavier University, and a Bachelor and Master of Science in Industrial and Systems Engineering from The Ohio State University. Dr. Furterer has over 25 years of experience in business process and quality improvements. She is an ASQ Certified Six Sigma Black Belt, a Certified Quality Engineer, an ASQ fellow, and a certified Master Black Belt.
Dr. Furterer is an author or co-author of four reference textbooks on Lean Six Sigma, Design for Six Sigma and Lean Systems, journal articles and conference proceedings.