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Barriers To Lean Six Sigma

Feb 26, 2008
For a better understanding, let us discuss some of the most common barriers that business organizations might have to deal with while implementing "Lean" Six Sigma projects.

The Human Barrier

This barrier relates to the inherent psychological bent of the human mind that tends to resist change, even when the change might aim at benefiting the individual concerned. When an organization introduces "Lean" concepts, employees generally develop the feeling that they will be required to shoulder new responsibilities and learn new skills so as to perform effectively in a "Lean" environment. Some employees may even start thinking that they will lose their jobs when "Lean" is fully implemented inside the organization.

Their concerns may be misplaced, but businesses should never take such developments lightly, because such feelings can easily affect employee morale and confidence. When employees develop such negative feelings about their organization, they tend to display a non-cooperative and unsupportive attitude that can easily prevent the successful implementation of "Lean" concepts and methodologies.

To overcome this barrier, businesses just need to get their communications right, i.e. make the employees aware that even though "Lean" may involve cost cutting, it does not lead to employee retrenchment. Businesses can ask the HR department to convey the real purpose of "Lean" to the employees or may even request a senior officer, who might have the respect and trust of employees, to do the job.

The Technical or Knowledge Barrier

Businesses, especially smaller ones that have limited resources at their disposal, often find it difficult to implement "Lean" concepts. Lack of in-house technical expertise and the inability to bear the high costs of hiring professionals such as Black Belts and Master Black Belts are often the main reasons that prevent such businesses from implementing "Lean" and deriving its benefits.

For overcoming this barrier, small businesses should opt for in-house training programs that are not only affordable but also allow small businesses to maximize their resource utilization. Small businesses can enroll their employees for "Lean" certification courses and provide them additional incentives for completing the course within the stipulated time. They will then be able to develop an in-house talent pool that has the requisite technical and knowledge base, required for implementing "Lean" concepts in a business organization.

The Learning Barrier

This barrier is created when a business tries to copy a "Lean" project that might have been implemented by a competitor. Businesses often fail to realize that "Lean" that it a continuous learning process and concepts that may have proved effective for the competitor may not necessarily give the same results in each and every organization. To overcome this barrier, businesses should try to develop their own unique "Lean" projects and continue to increase their learning through the "hit and trail" method.

Every business organization is different, which is why learning what works and what does not is the way to go for businesses that aim at implementing "Lean" concepts and deriving the associated benefits.
About the Author
Tony Jacowski is a quality analyst for The MBA Journal. Aveta Solution's Six Sigma Online offers online six sigma training and certification classes for lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.
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