If you are thinking of introducing Lean, Six Sigma or for that matter any other kind of sustainable improvement approach into your organisation, you will need to consider how you manage change. You will also need to consider how the proposed changes will support organisation strategy – and if you are thinking “there is no need to consider how it supports strategy, that’s something separate” then sorry that’s wrong thinking!”

Both Lean and Six Sigma originated as strategic enablers. Lean originated with Taiichi Ohno in Toyota, Toyota’s need was to be able to compete with the American automobile industry, which was dominating globally in the 1950’s using volume production. The Japanese strategy was to compete by offering different models with different options, but this required a change in manufacturing capability, to be able to produce faster, with lower stock and higher variety.

Motorola sold a TV business to Matsushita because they could not get product quality consistent. The company was losing market share in many key segments, including televisions, car radios and semiconductors. Motorola's President and CEO Bob Galvin decided to launch a strategic improvement initiative, focusing on improving consistency and customer satisfaction to ensure that Motorola reclaimed their position as a global leader in electronic products.

Implementing strategy means changing the organisation. So any structured improvement approach that works involves changing the organisation. Most change theory looks at change as a linear process, with a start point and an end point, but if we recognise that improvement requires change, and we want to achieve sustainable, ongoing improvement, then we cannot purely consider change as a process with a start and end point. This article will look in detail at some of the theory behind managing change in organisations, a second one will consider the importance of linking improvement approach to organisation strategy and propose a four step cyclical approach to ongoing change to make it a part of sustainable improvement.

Organisation Competences

People talk about “deploying” lean six sigma, it can also be described as introducing lean six sigma into the organisation, but the word deployment does give an indication of what may lie ahead, as deployment can be defined as “getting troops ready for battle”! We could talk about deployment in a non-military sense however as a systematic method of introducing a sustainable improvement approach within an organisation.

In an earlier article we discussed the importance of five organisation competences for creating a sustainable approach to organisation improvement:

Champions need to consider the development of these five competences as part of their deployment plans. Champions also need to remember that organisations build maturity over time,


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