5 Challenges to Implementing Green Lean Six Sigma
Continuous Improvement has become somewhat of an umbrella term which encompasses a wide array of methodologies and disciplines that may include Performance Management, Compliance, Quality Management, Business Process Development, Six Sigma, Lean and many others.
Despite the many different terms used, the variety of techniques and the methods that are available to organizations, one thing is common to all these Continuous Improvement initiatives: they seek to achieve continuous improvement of business processes and enhancement of results.
However, studies have shown that a majority of Lean Six Sigma initiatives, particularly those implemented with a green philosophy in mind, fail to yield the results desired; They often start off well enough, but fail to have a lasting impact since the participants tend to lose motivation and focus, returning to their old habits.
If continuous improvement through Green Lean Six Sigma is so essential to an organization’s health and image, why do so many implementations fail? Here we examine some of the challenges faced by teams implementing Green Lean Six Sigma:
- Difficulty Building a Collaborative Environment Between Stakeholders
Continuous improvement requires the involvement of a large number of stakeholders, each with their specific interests. These may include process owners, Quality Managers, Training departments, IT, Lean Six Sigma experts, and more. In certain highly regulated industries, the stakeholder list may also include Compliance and Risk Officers as well.
The list above probably only covers the people involved in capturing process steps, review and agreement and does not include employees who will need to adapt to new ways of working. Since there most likely will be several initiatives at different stages of the lifecycle, it can be a challenge getting everyone to work in unison.
- Problems Identifying Priority Areas For Improvement
As often happens when implementing Green Lean Six Sigma, there will be many great ideas for things which an organization can improve. Still, how do you identify the priority items? For some organizations the social responsibility and corporate goals could be clear-cut and aligned, but for others, there may be a sense of overload due to new initiatives or a barrage of priority items. In the latter case, the challenge is to assess each improvement initiative and evaluate it in terms of its value to the organization’s overall strategy.
- Use of Unsuitable Process Improvement Tools
Each organizational process needs to be treated as an asset. Every process must be captured, analyzed, improved and deployed in order to exploit the environmental benefits in the best way possible. In order for process improvement to be achieved, some king of business process management tool is necessary. However, if the tool’s learning curve is too steep, then it may prove to be a barrier instead of a help to the people involved in the Green Lean Six Sigma project. If an unsuitable tool is used, then people might simply throw in the towel and resume their old way of working.
- Meeting Compliance Standards While Implementing Process Improvement
If your business operates within a highly regulated industry, you may find yourself beset with rigorous controls, rules and standard operating procedures that may make process analysis and deployment of Green Lean Six Sigma a headache. In addition, if you constantly have to show auditors that processes, your procedures, process controls and compliance obligations are being followed, it is inevitable that your implementation will come with some level of governance overhead.
- Inadequate Employee Engagement
Like the best laid-out plans, your new and improved Green Lean Six Sigma processes will be completely useless if your people are ignorant of them or fail to follow them. By its definition, continuous improvement (the aim of Lean Six Sigma) requires a constant drip feed of step-by-step improvements. The major risk is change-exhaustion among employees who, if instant results are not apparent, may become skeptical or hostile to changes being implemented.
One thing that many businesses fail to realize is that Lean Six Sigma is more than just a collection of tools and techniques It is a continuous learning process whose concepts are highly effective at helping organizations minimize waste as well as negative effects on the environment. Still, each business is different, and it is vital to understand that what comes easy for one company could result in significant challenges for another.
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