Culture of Process Improvement

Cultural Aspects of Six Sigma Process Improvement by Walter McIntyre

Whatever the process improvement methodology used, when properly applied, it produces a change in a business’s culture. Outlined below are some behavioral changes necessary to sustain a customer focused process improvement effort.

View the business as an organization of processes:
• If you view the business as an organization of processes, then managing the business becomes managing processes.
• Processes are interrelated and, as a result, they interact with each other. Changing one affects the others.
• If the appropriate processes are in place, managing those processes is managing people. Not the other way around.

Data driven business decisions:
• Business acumen without data is ineffective.
• Data without business acumen is ineffective.
• Measuring the right things.
• If you are not measuring it, you are not managing it.
• If you are not managing it, you are at the mercy of chance.

Voice of the Customer:
• Customer focused: Recognize that business success depends on customer satisfaction.
• There is a line of site from the customer to each business process.
• Customers see our outputs differently than we do.
• What we value should be in alignment with what our customer’s value.

Continuous Improvement:
• If a business is not continuously trying to improve, other businesses are either closing the gap or passing them.
• Using data to see where improvements are needed and taking action to make the appropriate changes.
• Avoiding change for change sake. Change is good when data indicates a need for it.
• Changes are in alignment with corporate values.
• Change requires empowerment. Both require trust.
• Improvement strategy is focused upon changing the processes. Changing people is a leadership issue.

Employee Culture:
• People change as a result of leadership.
• Employees are the most valuable asset in the business.
• Employee empowerment is the engine that drives process improvement.
• Employees must “buy-in” to the cultural vision.
• Employees need to see leadership “buy in” to the cultural vision.