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Posts Tagged ‘foundation process skills’

Yellow Belts – Worth a Fresh Look?

November 8th, 2012 1 comment

Is Yellow Belt training a good foundation process skillset?I’m going to start this little article off by opining that the need for basic process management and improvement skills in an organization is getting more acute every day.

Why?  Well, I really don’t think the need ever waned, but   there are a lot of new things happening, specifically with technology, that have the potential to put business process management and formal improvement at the top of both business and IT leaders’ priorities.  While beyond the scope of this article, spend a little time looking at the new generation of BPM software (BPMS), the interest and investment in BigData, and software trends like SOA and I bet you’ll come to the same conclusion I have … process skills are becoming more and more critical to the success of enterprise.

Based on what’s happened over the last few years, many companies are finding that those skills are simply not there, or have gone dormant.  So, how do you develop or re-energize the capability?  Now, here is where we have to stay real.

The way companies are willing to build out organizational capability has clearly changed, based on my experience.  Big, top-heavy initiatives that push broad knowledge into the enterprise (the firehose approach) have been largely replaced with agile, practical thinking that says you pull right-fit capability into the organization, at the right-time.  Deliver exactly what’s needed, exactly when it’s needed, and execute in a way that delivers immediate ROI in the form of quantifiable business performance results.  That’s the new reality.

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I whole-heartedly agree with the agile, pull-based approach to organizational learning.  That being said, when building anything, you still have to start with a foundation … a base that you can continue to build upon as needed.  So, what should that foundation business process capability be?

Do you really need a large segment of people to be certified Black Belts, or even Green Belts, that specialize in deep statistical analysis?   Does everyone need to be a Lean Expert?  Does everyone need to have process design and DFSS skills?  I think not.

This caused me to go back and took a hard look at our trusty old Yellow Belt skillset and, you know what … it just might serve as that nice foundation. Yellow Belts, in the not-so-old days, were thought of as supporters of Black Belts and Green Belts. But I think that skillset can stand and deliver on its own.

(As a disclaimer, there is really no standard out there for yellow belt.  I’m talking about our (Qualtec’s) definition of a yellow belt skillset.)

So, what should well-trained Yellow Belts be able to do?

  • Map out and validate as-is processes, from a variety of perspectives
  • Identify waste and excess complexity in the process
  • Understand VOC and how a process delivers (or doesn’t deliver) value from the customers perspective
  • Evaluate and quantify what a problem is really costing, the cost of poor quality (COPQ)
  • Define and scope projects
  • Use a structured, data-driven approach for problem solving
  • Recognize different types of data, plan for collection
  • Analyze a variety of data to get to root causes of problems
  • Support identification of right-fit solutions, and support implementation
  • Put in the proper process control mechanisms to monitor performance and sustain improvements over time
  • Etc, etc

Not bad.  It’s something that’s broadly applicable in the organization, in any process or area, and immediately usable for just about anyone in the enterprise.  It also establishes that nice, solid foundation that advanced capabilities can be built upon when needed.

So, you may want to give Yellow Belt a new look, if you’re looking to establish process capability in your organization.  Contact me if you want more info or would like to discuss in more detail ….

Foundation Process Skills and Tools – Spread the Word

June 21st, 2012 Comments off

Today’s post is a little different in that instead of just providing some insight or idea that we hope you find useful, I’m going to ask for your help. But first a little background.

In just a matter of days, we will celebrate the beginning of our fifteenth year as Six Sigma Qualtec. While we go back over 25 years as Qualtec Quality Services, we became Six Sigma Qualtec when we acquired Six Sigma capabilities in 1998.  Since then we were at the forefront of the development of enterprise deployment models with different belts for different demographic groups, industry specific curriculum, integration of lean and customization for service and transactional environments.  And a constant mission through it all has been the transfer of knowledge.

As we look forward, we are amazed by what was spawned by those early days in our small niche of the business community.  The most startling aspect is how it’s really not so small anymore.  There are now thousands upon thousands of disciples of the practices with which we began years ago.  Imagine there are over 5,000 subscribers like you to our blog!  Yet we are also cognizant of how much further it can go.

Basic, foundation skills in process management and problem solving are still in high demand. Companies continue to look for ways to drive this widely applicable skillset as broadly as possible,  in the hopes of improving customer’s experience and productivity.

We believe that is really the next frontier … to expand the foundation knowledge so it’s part of everyday work for everyone …  a way of thinking.  And we know we, as individual teachers, can’t reach that broadly visiting facility by facility.  Our contribution to this next phase is to contribute our approaches, materials, tools, and methodologies.  That’s already been the case for many years with our Master Black Belt programs, but the knowledge that needs to be in everyone’s hands isn’t of the depth and intricacy of a Master Black Belt.  It’s about the fundamentals, the things that can be used every day.

So it is to the broad distribution of fundamental knowledge, especially in the services industries where process thinking is in high demand and can have significant impact, to which we will devote ourselves as we enter our fifteenth year of operations.  Our mission will become increasingly about empowering and supporting your ability to spread the word and teach the discipline in an effective way.  So be on the lookout for how we will do this with new materials and tools as we rededicate ourselves to changing the way business is conducted to make our clients successful.

Tell us about your training/skills needs

We always try to provide something of value to our subscribers in every post we make, and will continue to do so.  Now, we’re asking for your input.  If you have specific ideas or see specific needs in your organization, please take a moment to tell us about it.  It will help us tailor our content to what you really need to make a difference in your organization.  Thank you in advance for your help!