For Lean Six Sigma Programme Success: Customise training around projects not projects around training

Over the course of a number of Corporate Lean Six Sigma Programme workshops held recently, supported through the Lean Skillnet, the importance of ensuring alignment was highlighted as a key take-away message and a critical factor in implementing successful and sustainable programmes. This alignment activity involves both top-down and bottom-up approaches.

Top-down alignment

Firstly, there must be engagement and buy-in from top-level management in the achievement in enterprise excellence. Top-level management must view improvement and excellence programmes as investments with multipliers in returns and must overcome perspectives that they are merely costs to the enterprise.

Secondly, an organisation must plan for success and must align the entire organisation to execute against a common vision and mission; working to one set of strategic goals or themes and one set of priorities, which are managed through ‘one set of numbers’ or metrics. Ensuring strong alignment with the vision, mission and strategy of the organisation helps to avoid the occurrence of conflicting metrics within the organisation.

The organisational strategic goals must cascade through the whole enterprise and translate from top-level management into more specific department and team goals and then further translate to very specific individual goals.

Bottom-up alignment

In parallel, ‘on-the-ground’ projects, training and staff progression paths within the enterprise and corporate structure must be well-planned and strongly align with the top-down/strategic goals and thematic areas. For example, projects that do not meet the agreed key organisational goals and themes and which do not deliver against the related metrics in place, quite simply, should not be done.

The training and development element required to drive behavioural change and a culture of continuous improvement must have a well-defined progression path. Yellow belt, green belt and black belt activities and projects at the individual and team level must clearly link back to serve the strategic themes and goals specified at the top-level.

Too often, organisations select training programmes in isolation and without a proper review of project priorities. These organisations end up with more generic training that falls short and does not support the delivery of individual projects aligned to the higher strategic goals and themes. Projects can end up being shoe-horned to fit the training; rather than delivering projects supported by training that address the agreed priorities of the organisation.

Those firms engaged in the Lean Skillnet programmes have devised customised yellow belt programmes (often delivered via online approaches to support scale and flexibility) and build in a requirement for annual recertification. In addition, the yellow belt programme serves as a seed system for their green belt programmes and overall, there is a well-defined progression path for individuals all the way to achieving black belt certification.


To find out more on how to succeed in your enterprise excellence programme, contact Rachel at or by phone: 061-503009.

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