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Contemporary business environment is characterized by changes emanating from globalization of markets, technological changes, political realignments, changing consumer preferences, organizational restructuring, among other changes. Consequently, organizations have to monitor their external environment and constantly align themselves with these changes in order to survive in the highly dynamic and competitive economic environment.
The ability to anticipate, plan for, implement, and manage change is a key determinant of success in any business organization. Effective management of organizational change is a complex process that requires all the relevant stake holders within the organization to be change conscious. The organization’s response to internal and external demands and contingencies should be prompt and the activities and ideas across all the levels of the organization should be permeable in order to allow integration.
Technological revolution which has been fueled by information and communication technology advancement has increased the rate and scope of change making the process of change even more complex. Managing change therefore demands new and more evolved cross functional initiatives and change management techniques to direct change in organizations.
Lean Six Sigma combines lean methods with six sigma approaches to change management. It builds on extensive body of information, techniques, and tools drawn from previous operation development study and execution. While lean methods concentrate on reducing cost (through optimization) Six Sigma dwells on satisfying the client through quality production.
Lean-Six Sigma as a change management tool
Previously, Lean Six Sigma was used primarily for operational improvement within organizations. However, due to the dramatic changes taking place in the modern market, business organizations are constantly undergoing changes which demand restructuring, innovation, and adjustment.
Consequently, organizations have to focus on establishing appropriate responses to such changes in addition to continuously improving their operations. Organizations such as General Motors and Caterpillar have implemented the Lean Six Sigma in their organizations which has assisted in bridging the gap between the company’s operations and stake holder’s expectations.
The Six Sigma incorporates organization’s vision, development of a strategy through which the management seeks to achieve its objectives, and the strategy execution process (Hartung, 2010). It utilizes statistical tools to assess the quality of products and services of an organization which facilitates quality improvement.
The Six Sigma emphasizes on the need for continuous improvement of products and services in order to meet consumer specifications and requirements. Organizations have further introduced the concept of lean methodology which focuses on the internal need to maximize value through optimal production and reduction in overall operational costs (Aruleswaran, 2010).
Lean and six sigma work concurrently to integrate the needs of the customer and business needs. This enables the organization to provide quality products and enhance speed through lean processes and operations. Lean and Six Sigma have been successfully implemented both separately and together across a variety of manufacturing and non manufacturing industries in the economy (Hartung, 2010).
However, organizations that have instinctively combined both approaches have achieved exceptional performance relative to the others. Consequently, modern businesses prefer Lean Six Sigma approach which is driven by the need for the organization to change and continuously improve its operations. The LSS approach to change management has not only enabled companies to survive in the ever changing business environment, but has also helped them to reach higher levels of performance.
Implementing Lean-Six Sigma in an organization
The process of implementing Lean-Six Sigma within the organization closely follows the fundamentals of the twelve pillars of Six Sigma. It involves extensive Analysis of the market and consumer behavior which is essential in planning and managing change in organizations. Adequate knowledge regarding economic changes, consumer needs, and prevailing political climate which may directly or indirectly affect the activities of the organization is important in managing change within an organization (Hartung, 2010).
Consequently, such information should be extensively analyzed in order to enhance the company’s ability to deal with internal and external changes. The organization’s management should embrace change and commit towards driving change implementation. This is made possible by senior management acknowledgement of the need to improve the present conditions in the organization which enables him to mobilize fellow employees to work together towards achievement of organization’s long term goals.
Extensive management training is essential in enhancing the senior managers’ ability to deliver expected results (Blokdjik, 2008). The senior managers should be trained on lean six sigma techniques and support mechanisms necessary to deliver organizations expected results. Demand for Lean Six Sigma training has significantly increased over the past few years and its being offered in numerous modern institutions (Blokdjik, 2008).
In addition, an organization should set forth a mission and a vision which translates into the company’s objectives. In order to manage change effectively, the management should develop a strategic plan through which the company can achieve its objectives. The management should continuously monitor the process of implementation in order to assess the effectiveness.
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Effective implementation of lean six sigma initiatives demands able leadership and competent management. Competent leaders have the ability to inspire fellow employees, guide them towards the strategic direction of change, develop operational excellence within the organization, and unleash the talent and potential of the workforce through provision of constant motivation to fellow employees (Aruleswaran, 2010).
Effective management on the other hand ensures that lean six sigma projects selection and execution follows the highest standards and that resources are being utilized optimally in order to achieve maximum returns.
Therefore, for a company to transform into a Lean Six Sigma organization, it has to establish the best practices to adopt in order to implement change, adapt these practices, and continually improve them in order to retain competitive advantage (Aruleswaran, 2010). This often leads to invention of new products, opportunities, and avenues of growth within the organization.
Due to the dynamic nature of modern business, organizations have adopted various mechanisms through which they adapt to changes in the internal and external environment. Lean and Six Sigma are two quality initiatives that have received a lot of attention in the modern business environment.
Each of these approaches provides an organization with a methodology through which it can continuously improve its performance. Lean and Six Sigma methodologies enhance production efficiency and consumer satisfaction through provision of quality products and services. In addition, these approaches focus on improving organization’s operational processes such as product development, administration, customer service, manufacturing, and supply chain management among others.
Combining tools and methodologies of these two approaches significantly accelerate the rate of performance within organizations. Consequently, business organizations seek to implement the Lean Six Sigma as a tool of change management within their organizations. This is a methodology that promotes business improvement through maximization of value to shareholders, efficient production, and customer satisfaction.
Aruleswaran, A. (2010). Changing with Lean Six Sigma. Malaysia: LSS Academy.
Blokdjik, G. (2008). Six SIGMA 100 Success Secrets – The Missing Six SIGMA Green Belt, Black Belt Training, Certification, Design and Implementation Guide, Lulu.com.
Hartung, M. (2010). Lean-Six Sigma, Quality & Process Management for Managers and Professionals. New York: Books on Demand.