Subscribe
Larry Fast
By
November 01, 2016

ARTICLE: How Many Experts are Needed to Embark on a Lean Journey?

QUESTION: We are starting discussions about trying to start a lean initiative and are in disagreement about what is the actual number of experts we would need before we embark on such a journey. Somebody told us that it should be about 1% of total plant workers; for example for every 100 people, then 1 lean expert. I know this depends a lot on the type of plant and products we have, but management wants to know how much this would cost (probably a bad sign). Any suggestions?

Screenshot 2016-11-01 16.37.42.png

ANSWER: The questions raised here provide important insights into the company.

  • Apparently there is no top-down strategy that specifies achieving and sustaining excellence as one of the top three priorities for the business.
  • The discussions about how many experts are needed and what they will cost are decisions that come after there’s a compelling operational strategy in place with an eye on the long term. As the reader recognized, this is a bad sign.
  • The resources required for technical competency and for project managers assigned the top priority projects are already being viewed as an expense instead of as critical assets. Their cost per year should be de minimis compared to the improvements they will deliver. In many companies, these costs will be a rounding error on the income statement.
  • Companies that start their journey with this kind thinking from the company’s leaders will fail.

The first step should be for the senior leaders to get themselves educated about the commitment that’s required before launching what is supposed to be a career-long commitment to achieve and sustain excellence.  Certainly they should put their XL-sized ears on and listen to the people a couple of levels down to get their input. They may also need to seek some outside assistance with education and training before they are willing to make this commitment. Otherwise the folks at lower levels will have to cope with getting whatever improvements they can get with whatever modest funding they can count on.

This scenario is so common. When I do my workshops around the country and discuss the major barriers to change, one of the top three responses from attendees is always the lack of understanding and support from the top. This is obviously very frustrating, as well as limiting to what can actually be accomplished in the arena. These kinds of initiatives are DOA.

Step One: Quantify What You Want to Accomplish

As for the other questions by this reader, this is my experience. Trying to nail down exactly the number of resources is sometimes more art than science. It depends so much on whether or not the operation already has competent project managers, i.e. a lean/Six Sigma black belt, a green belt, etc. It also depends on the quantification of the opportunities for improvement and what skills are required to slay the largest dragons. So step one is to quantify what it is you want to accomplish for the next two to three years based on the size of improvement goals.

When deciding on the number of these scarce resources that is required, 1% of the labor force is commonly used but I’ve found 1.5% to 2.0% has much more impact if managed properly. If the calculations come out to include a fractional person I always rounded up. Why? Because every company has turnover and major improvement commitments are easily compromised if one of your key resources leaves. These jobs also are often filled by engineers who have good upside and are striving to sit down in a manager’s chair.

And finally, the major reason as I stated earlier, is that the right people’s cost will be a rounding error on the income statement compared to the value they add on productivity. They are assets not liabilities.

My experience also is that every operation (assuming sufficient size) should have a lean/Six Sigma black belt on staff. As you pick the low-hanging fruit you’ll get into more difficult process improvement projects that require the special skills of a black belt, e.g. process capability studies, design of experiments, regression analysis, etc.

Further, your certified black belt is a capable trainer of green belts for your internal needs now and in the future. For very small operations, you may opt to have a green belt on site and outsource a black belt when you need the more sophisticated tools; or, if you’re in a small plant with a large business, perhaps there’s a shared resource you can tap into.

Finally, the ratio I found to work very well over the years is a 3 to 1 ratio of the number of green belts to black belts. In the corporate world I kept a small cadre of black belts on staff whose job it was to support the small plants who couldn’t afford their own as well as to lead major corporate projects.

This article was originally posted on IndustryWeek.

View Larry's Contributor Profile


BTOE_Awards_Long_Ad.png


The Business Transformation & Operational Excellence Industry Awards

The Largest Leadership-Level Business Transformation & Operational Excellence Event

opex_assembly

business_assembly

Proqis Digital Virtual Conference Series

View our schedule of industry leading free to attend virtual conferences. Each a premier gathering of industry thought leaders and experts sharing key solutions to current challenges.

Download the most comprehensive OpEx Resport in the Industry

The Business Transformation & Operational Excellence Industry Awards Video Presentation

Proqis Events Schedule

Proqis Digital

Welcome to BTOES Insights, the content portal for Business Transformation & Operational Excellence opinions, reports & news.
BTOES UNIVERSAL GRAPHIC - NO DATE.webp?width=1200&name=BTOES UNIVERSAL GRAPHIC - NO DATE
ACCESS 50 VIDEO PRESENTATIONS
Access all 75 Award Finalist Entires
RESEARCH REPORT 2021/2022
BTOES AWARD - NO DATE
BTOES UNIVERSAL GRAPHIC - NO DATE
Subscribe to Business Transformation & Operational Excellence Insights Now
btoes19.png
png
ATTENDEE - Proqis Digital Event Graphics-2
ATTENDEE - Proqis Digital Event Graphics (2)-1
ATTENDEE - Proqis Digital Event Graphics (1)-1
png

Featured Content

  • Best Achievement of Operational Excellence in Technology & Communications: IBM
  • Best Achievement of Operational Excellence in Oil & Gas, Power & Utilities: Black & Veatch
  • Best Achievement in Cultural Transformation to deliver a high performing Operational Excellence culture: NextEra Energy
Operational Excellence Frameworks and Learning Resources, Customer Experience, Digital Transformation and more introductions
  • Intelligent BPM Systems: Impact & Opportunity
  • Surviving_the_IT_Talent_deficit.png
  • Six Sigma's Best Kept Secret: Motorola & The Malcolm Baldrige Awards
  • The Value-Switch for Digitalization Initiatives: Business Process Management
  • Process of Process Management: Strategy Execution in a Digital World

Popular Tags

Speaker Presentation Operational Excellence Business Transformation Business Improvement Insights Article Continuous Improvement Process Management Business Excellence process excellence Process Optimization Process Improvement Award Finalist Case Study Digital Transformation Leadership Change Management Lean Enterprise Excellence Premium Organizational Excellence Lean Enterprise Lean Six Sigma Execution Excellence Capability Excellence Enterprise Architecture New Technologies Changing & Improving Company Culture Agile end-to-end Business Transformation Execution & Sustaining OpEx Projects Culture Transformation Leadership Understanding & Buy-In Lack of/Need for Resources Adapting to Business Trends Changing Customer Demands Failure to Innovate Integrating CI Methodologies Lack of/Need for Skilled Workers Lack of/Need for Support from Employees Maintaining key Priorities Relationships Between Departments BTOES18 RPA & Intelligent Automation Live Process Mining BTOES From Home Financial Services Cultural Transformation Customer Experience Excellence Process Automation Technology Healthcare iBPM Healthcare and Medical Devices Webinar Culture Customer Experience Innovation BTOES Video Presentations Exclusive BTOES HEALTH Strategy Execution Business Challenges Digital Process Automation Report Industry Digital Workplace Transformation Manufacturing Supply Chain Planning Robotic Process Automation (RPA) BPM Automation IT Infrastructure & Cloud Strategies Artificial Intelligence Business Process Management innovation execution AI Lean Manufacturing Oil & Gas Robotic Process Automation IT value creation Agility Business Speaker Article Systems Engineering RPAs Insurance Process Design Digital Speaker's Interview data management Intelligent Automation digital operations Six Sigma Awards thought leaders BTOES Presentation Slides Transformation Cloud Machine Learning Data Analytics Digital Transformation Workplace Banking and Capital Markets Data Finance Professional Services Education IT Infrastructure IT Infrastructure & Cloud Strategies Live Blockchain Interview Solving Cash Flow with AI BTOES White Paper investment banking Analytics Insight BTOES19 Consumer Products & Retail Enterprise Agile Planning Government Operational Excellence Model Project Management Algorithm Automotive and Transportation Banking Business Environment Digital Bank Enterprise architecture as an enabler Hybrid Work Model Primary Measure of succes Relationship Management Sales business expansion revenue growth Adobe Sign Agile Transformation CoE Delivery solution E-Signatures Electricity Global Technology HealthcareTechnologies Innovation in Healthcare Reduce your RPA TCO Transportation Accounts Receivable (AR) Big Data Technology CORE Cloud Technology Cognitive learning Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) Logistics Services Operational Excellence Example Risk Management business process automation transformation journey Covid-19 Data Entry Digital Experience Digital Network Digital Network Assistant (DNA) Digitization Drinks Effective Change Leaders HR Internet Media NPS Net Promoter Score Program Management Portal (PgMP) Sustainability TechXLive The Document is Dead The New Era of Automation Automated Money Movement Banking & Financial Services Biopharmaceutical Blue Room Effect Building Your Future Workforce in Insurance Business Process Governance Capital Market Creative Passion Digital Transformation Workplace Live Digital Workforce Digitalization ERP Transformation Finance Global Operations (FGO) Financial Services Software Frameworks Hoshin Planning Human Capital Lean Culture Natural Gas Infrastructure Natural Language Processing Organizational Change Pharmaceutical Pharmaceuticals & Life Sciences Project manager Supply Chain Management Sustainable Growth The Fully Automated Contact Center Transformation Initiatives Workplace Analytics eForms eSignatures 3D Thinking BEAM BFARM BTOES17 Big Data Processing Business Analytics Business Growth Centralized Performance Monitoring System Communication Creativity Digital Technologies Digital Technology Educational Psychologist Energy Management Health Insurance Health Maintenance Organizations Hospitality & Construction Human Centered Design Integrated Decision Approach Integrated Decision Making Intelligent Document Processing Kaizen Medicare Moodset for Excellence Natural Language Processing (NLP) Offering Managers Oil and Gas Optical Character Recognition (OCR) Pharmaceuticals and Life Sciences Photographing Price and Routing Tracking (PART) Process Design Document (PDD) Product Identifier Descriptions (PIDs) Python Quote to Cash (Q2C) Resilience SAP Sales Quota Team Work Telecommunications Text Mining Visually Displayed Work Culture master text analytics virtual resource management