This book specifically takes a project-based approach to process improvement. In order to ensure a usable text, it is necessary to make some basic assumptions before leading up to the project—in particular, the existence of the following:
- A clear business reason to do the project.1
- A Project Leader (usually referred to as a Black Belt or Green Belt, depending on the level of training) to lead the project. It is usually best to have a Belt who is not from the functional groups impacted by the project if at all possible; that way, the Belt has no preconceived notions of a solution and can be relied upon to look at the process with a fresh set of eyes.
- A Team composed of people who live and breathe the process every day. Lean Sigma is certainly a team sport and should not be viewed as a “gladiator” undertaking. There should be no hero mentality in the solution of process problems.
- A committed Champion to remove potential roadblocks.2
- Time made available for the Team to complete the project, for both the Belt and the Team. If this is not the case, failure is just a few short weeks away.
These elements are absolutely necessary, but in this book I will not spend any more time on them because the focus here will be on the problem-solving roadmap itself and the tools therein.
Another significant assumption here is that the Project Leader will have gone through some basic Lean Sigma or Six Sigma training to at least the Green Belt level. It is possible to complete a project using just this text alone, but the intent is for this book to be a practical support guide as opposed to a technical teaching guide. I will endeavor to reference key technical texts throughout.