Measure of Effectiveness of Lean Six Sigma Deployment

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Measure of effectiveness lean Six Sigma deployment is a metric that should interest leadership since they have invested in the program.  The question is how to best provide this information.

Measure of Effectiveness of Lean Six Sigma Deployment

In today’s Master Black Belt class we had an afternoon discussion of the issues that can undermine the sustainability of a Lean Six Sigma program.  One of the items was tracking the number of people trained as a metric.  One of the students was using that as a program metric and believed in it.

Which is the right decision, to use a training count metric or not to use it to measure the performance of you lean six sigma program?  Like all difficult questions, the answer is that it depends.

The use of any metric, like the number of people trained, is considered as an activity metric.  It measures the amount of work being done.  When I worked with a training organization we called it a butts-in-seat metric.  There is no measure of organizational benefit or positive outcome.  You can get a score with a bad class or a good class, they are equal.  If the student ignores everything they still count.  This does not represent the success of any training program.

Now, the count of people trained can be a good metric for a training department to assess staffing and its resource requirements, but not impact.

The next suggestions was to track the number of certified students, which does include a requirement to have a project completed.  This is slightly better than a butt-in-the-seat metric, but not by much.

After poking fun at the easy to measure metrics, what should be used?

One common one is the certification rate!  The fraction of people trained that complete certification is a measure of the quality of the training and post training support.  A good measure of the skill acquisition portion of a lean six sigma program.  But it alone is not sufficient.

One metric that some organizations used is the number of active practitioners.  This is not great, but can work if you have a good operational definition of “Active.”  I have seen it be that they have an LSS project in progress that is keeping to its planned pace.  Some required two in work for full time BBs.  For Green Belts it was one active project within the past 12 months.  For LSS champions or Sponsors, it was a requirement to be associated with at least one active project or an approved project sitting in queue for assignment.

How about metrics for savings claimed.  It needs to be accumulated some how, but a rolling sum is not the right answer.  This does not consider the time value of savings or other aspects.  Most organizations set rules on the period of savings to be claimed.  Some are the length of a contract. Some may be 3 yrs or a time limit.  But every successful organization does not report soft savings the same way the talk about hard savings.

My favorite metric that I have seen at one location (other than where I worked) was to track the % of the projects that sustained the improvement after six months (or a year).  This is one of the few methods to assess the control phase of a project.

I hope this provided some thoughts on program metrics.

Extra point;
Even with the reasons why activity metrics are generally wrong, there is a practical reason that I did not list.  A successful LSS program has a high training rate at first and then it tapers down to a low level as people reintegrate into the workforce.  As problems are solved, the projects take longer and gain less, so tracking the number trained will start to decline (out of control low) as you mature, which may appear as a problem when it is not.  You should not train more people just to keep the metric good.


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