I just barely woke up at 10.00am in the morning when I received a random call from a Lean Six Sigma (LSS) certified student about the promotion he just received from his bank. He was obviously excited, as he could not wait to thank me for convincing him to go for the training vis-à-vis the exam. I congratulated him and promised to call him back ASAP because I really needed to sleep after working through the night. I immediately switched off my phones but found it difficult to sleep. My student’s quality of life just improved and he attributed it to my input. As I laid on the bed staring at the blank ceiling, I remembered vividly our conversation two years ago:
Banker: I am bored Dipo and I need to stimulate my mind or I will go crazy doing the same routine again and again.
Dipo: You can get out of the rut by attending our LSS Black Belt training. I personally take the class. It would reframe your mind and open your eyes to see what you do in a different perspective – You would definitely be excited to go to work.
Banker: How much is it?
Dipo: I am not certain but I believe what you really want to know is the Return on Investment.
Banker: That is it my brother. Tell me
Dipo: This is what I surmised:
1. Develop a problem solving mindset
The easiest way to become valuable in any organization is to solve problems – the more problems you solve, the more indispensable you become. Problems are one-thing organizations would never run out of. My career advice is always “follow the pain” as oppose to the popular adage “follow the money”. The training and the certification help build problem-solving muscles.
Case Study: During general staff lay off, the functional heads always recommend the people who are solving the least problem as perceived by the management. Corporate relevance is tied to problem solving.
2. Systems Approach
One of the most effective ways to manage resources either human or material is through systems. A bad system or process will beat a good person every time and vice versa. In creating a sustainable success story for a workplace team or entrepreneurial startup, having a super system that an average individual can thrive in, is far better than having a superstar. You will begin to take a systematic approach to everything including your personal life.
Case Study: One of the popular decisions to enterprise solution is “change in governance”. Except the new management develops a better system than the ones they meet on ground, their best effort will have an incremental output – there will definitely be no breakthrough in performance.
3. Root-Cause Lens
The training gives you fresh new eyes that force you to look beyond the cursoriness. You eyes will inculcate the new lens algorithm of “y= f(x) +E” analysis to help you decipher and sieve opportunities or problems. Every brainstorm will see the problem/opportunity (y) has having two general root-causes; an explainable independent variable (x) that can be systemized (f) and an unexplainable variable (E).
Case Study: There was heavy stench in the 3-Star hotel. They tried to mask the smell with air fresheners and various masking chemicals but the smell persists. Guest started leaving and new guest could perceive the odor from the parking lot. This was a nightmare for the hospitality business, which goes beyond lodging to restaurant, nightclubs, bars and gym. Until they found and removed the dead vulture inside the aluminum roof, the hotel had lost more than 5-day revenue trying temporary solutions.
4. Data-driven Decision Making
One of the most important lessons of LSS is never to rely on instinct, intuition or experience when making decision but on actual data leading to facts. This simplifies your decisions and clarifies all the ambiguity you face when making decision for the future. Data-driven decision is the true path through uncertainty.
Case Study: There is a much higher divorce rate for people in the developed countries as oppose to the third world counterparts. This is an empirical fact. A research found that the more chores a husband does, the more likely the marriage will end in divorce. This data supports the aforementioned empirical fact. Hence, it does not matter what your instincts or emotions says when you decide the type of marriage you want, the odds favor the traditional marriage style as being more sustainable.
5. World wide recognition
The knowledge, tools and techniques you learn in LSS training is transferable to all management functions and defies geographic limitations. If used by the acquirer, it is a recognizable effective skill for productivity and high performance. No matter the corporate politics, it can never be swept under the bus hence the reward for obtaining a certification: Indeed (2016) reveals average annual salary for Green Belt ($83, 000/year); Black Belt ($99, 000/year) & Master Black Belt ($121, 000/year) in the United States.
Case Study: My student was the only LSS Black Belt certified staff in the bank. He provided a unique input (LSS Jargons) in all the strategic meetings. Rather than looking for an outside candidate, he was double promoted to head the Business Process Unit of the bank.