Lean Six Sigma Improved with Priority Map in Hand

Imagine my delight when I read this:

“As Lean Six Sigma’s popularity grows in the services industries, so can the disappointing results. An upfront diagnostic X-ray helps companies get more from their efforts.”

Of course, we have known this for some time but validation is always nice…

In my years of experience I’ve learned that enabling units to focus on top priorities provides the greatest economic benefit.  An “upfront diagnostic” and “priority map” are the pragmatic first steps necessary to align a company’s energy against execution. 

Recently, the Founder/CEO of a rapidly expanding, full-service restaurant group told me a story which drove this point home.  He, along with his COO and VP of Training—75 % of his senior management team—became involved with Lean Six Sigma.  They found the classes challenging, invested quite a bit of time in the learning process, and were certified. 

That was the good news. The bad news—now how to apply what they learned… 

The reasons why Lean Six Sigma fails to satisfy, according to Guarraia, Carey, Corbett and Neuhaus in “Lean Six Sigma for the Services Industry” is simple –“it is less adept at uncovering hidden sources of pain and identifying and sizing the largest opportunities…”   

They point out that:        

  • Managers are unsure how best to deploy Lean Six Sigma experts
  • Lean Six Sigma treats all problems, big and small, with the same approach
  • Plans fail to prioritize improvements that will make the biggest difference

That last point, prioritizing initiatives, is imperative before unleashing resources toward execution.  Their research shows that companies who deploy an upfront diagnostic to identify critical opportunities are yielding the biggest gains.

What we have found is that by building a Priority Map, this can happen. Some features include:

  • Analyzing the units to identify the biggest opportunities to reduce costs and increase revenues
  • Setting performance goals as measured against internal and external benchmarks
  • Prioritizing areas of improvement to yield the greatest economic benefit

The CEO I mentioned took a step back and did the Priority Mapping.  He uncovered both obvious and obscure areas of pain in his restaurants, identified and quantified the largest opportunities in Revenue, Business Processes and People and prioritized them. 

Then he unleashed his black belts. 

Debra Koenig, President, B2A


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