Business Process Improvement Tools

In 1998 GE launched into the exponential ROI phase of Six Sigma saving an estimated $1.2 BILLION on an investment of $450 Million.

“Six Sigma is the most important initiative GE has ever undertaken—it is part of the genetic code of our future leadership.”

– Jack Welch, CEO, GE

Our primary tool/methodology for systems and process improvement at Performance Resources Consulting, LLC is Six Sigma (6S). Six Sigma departs from traditional approaches of quality in three significant ways:

  1. It is proactive and encompassing the entire spectrum of quality including the teams that work on the problems that address the re-engineering from the front side VS. traditional quality approaches that are reactive, based on calibration of equipment due to fix-on-failure auditing and are not focused on the front side or the team dynamics.
  2. Traditional Quality initiatives were often applied only to manufacturing processes. Six Sigma can be applied to all important business processes which can include marketing, human resources, customer services, shipping, etc.
  3. Total Six Sigma sets the process standard deviation goal to be no more than one-twelfth of the total allowable spread, as compared to traditional quality models where a “capable” process was one that had a process standard deviation of no more than one-sixth of the total allowable spread.

Six Sigma can be defined as a measured approach to achieving the highest CRITICAL TO CUSTOMER quality, through real attention to detail and continuous improvement. It represents a mathematical calculation, 99.9996% perfection. This is equivalent to a mistake level of 3.4 per million. Six Sigma represents the limit of capability of human-made things – as near to perfection as we can achieve.

The concept is that we need to pursue quality in a radical, consistent way. We have to attack it. Which is why we use the martial arts terms, black belt and green belt, which refer to those people responsible for achieving World Class quality. Black belts and green belts go through special intense training in the use of statistical process control, problem solving, and working with teams. Black Belts also typically ensure that overview training on 6S to the entire organization from the executive level to the staff level is in place.

Performance Resources Consulting, LLC has used Six Sigma in projects to improve on-time delivery, improve cycle time for recruiting, improve objectivity in employee recognition programs, reduce redundant activity, and improve communication. Six Sigma can provide some lackluster results without proper project identification, beware!

People Capability Maturity Model

The P-CMM consists of five maturity levels that lay successive foundations for continuously improving talent, developing effective teams, and successfully managing the people assets of the organization. Each maturity level is a well-defined evolutionary plateau that institutionalizes a level of capability for developing the talent within the organization.

Except for Level 1, each maturity level is decomposed into several key process areas that indicate the areas an organization should focus on to improve its workforce capability. Each key process area is described in terms of the key practices that contribute to satisfying its goals. The key practices describe the infrastructure and activities that contribute most to the effective implementation and institutionalization of the key process area.

The five maturity levels of the P-CMM are:

  1. Initial.
  2. Repeatable. The key process areas at Level 2 focus on instilling basic discipline into workforce activities. They are:
    • Work Environment
    • Communication
    • Staffing
    • Performance Management
    • Training
    • Compensation
  3. Defined. The key process areas at Level 3 address issues surrounding the identification of the organization’s primary competencies and aligning its people management activities with them. They are:
    • Knowledge and Skills Analysis
    • Workforce Planning
    • Competency Development
    • Career Development
    • Competency-Based Practices
    • Participatory Culture
  4. Managed. The key process areas at Level 4 focus on quantitatively managing organizational growth in people management capabilities and in establishing competency-based teams. They are:
    • Mentoring
    • Team Building
    • Team-Based Practices
    • Organizational Competency Management
    • Organizational Performance Alignment
  5. Optimizing. The key process areas at Level 5 cover the issues that address continuous improvement of methods for developing competency, at both the organizational and the individual level. They are:
    • Personal Competency Development
    • Coaching
    • Continuous Workforce Innovation

Carnegie Mellon University has developed the P-CMM since 1984.

RETA-3 Discovery System

“The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything except our way of thinking… we need essentially a new way of thinking if mankind is to survive.”

Adopting the RETA-3 Discovery system requires a personal change so radical that it is a transformation, a change of state, water to ice. You have to change what you believe and what you do, and no one pretends that the transformation is easy. The aim of the system is to guide people through that transformation with as few bumps and bruises as possible.

The introspective approach allows for individuals to recognize the exponential power of diverse styles. A movement in innovation by each participant focuses on becoming “part of the solution” as an individual mentality as opposed to being “part of the problem.” Finally, the capitalization on unique strengths channels each individual into their strongest contribution for the team, and the organization resulting in greater “joy in work” and increased retention and bottom-line contribution for the organization.

The RETA-3 Discovery System has the following components:

R³ = Relationship, Referability, Results
E³ = Entrepreneur, Employee, Expectations
T³ = Technology, Training, Transfer of Ideas
A³ = Ability, Attitude, Accountability

Action Based Teambuilding/Training (ABT)

Action based teambuilding has been around under various names for quite some time. Some levels of ABT are “Challenge Courses” and involve rope bridges, racing yachts, and climbing courses. Other levels of ABT include interactive team training based on specific principles with teambuilding debriefs

Action Based Teambuilding allows for teams to discuss problems with the team, and with the company in a non-threatening environment. A focus on consensus, problem solving, and planning for process improvement nets increased trust, confidence and understanding of dynamics/roles. The process of facilitating ABT allows for new language that teams may use back in production to get increased accountability without the feeling of having to “do a lot of finger pointing.” By reducing conflict and building trust teams are able to accomplish consensus and results driven performance.

The Process for ABT is as follows:

  1. Assess the maturity of the team itself as a unit
  2. Identify the stage of the team, define needs for development towards improved ROI
  3. Develop the ABT engagements and implement
  4. Debrief immediately with application to the operational environment
  5. Debrief and plan once back in the day-to-day operations with the new use of the language and mapping for the team
  6. Set goals for key business indicators