How companies hire a #Lean #SixSigma #Manager

As you know our goal as Lean6Sigma4all is to be the only matchmaking platform for every Lean Six Sigma professional and company that looks for the right consultant for its business. We are always looking for projects to publish developed by Lean Six Sigma consulting companies and professionals. These projects will be voted by the audience. By doing this we help consulting companies increase their reputation and visibility, on the other hand companies that look for a Lean Six Sigma provider can understand which fit better the issue they want to solve.

I have always thought  I’m pretty good at understanding what it takes to be a successful Lean Six Sigma project manager even though I am not yet.  I’ve recently taken some time to reflect on what companies want and also what they don’t need when it comes to hiring a Lean Six Sigma project manager. I would be interested in the thoughts of others both to learn from their experience and to challenge my views. I acknowledge that different companies and cultures have different needs but these are the common traits that they look for in a Black Belt professional.

What companies Avoid

  1. The fantasist. It is all well and good that the project manager has worked in an organisation that had a mature programme with firm engagement from stakeholders that were themselves belted up, where there is clear process ownership and a top notch data rich MI system. The thing is, we are often engaged to start new programmes or resurrect programmes that haven’t quite worked out to date. As a result there is a need to operate in an environment that has few, if any, of those circumstances. We need project managers to build on what is there, not to wait for an ideal world where the deck is tilted in their favour. Blaming non-delivery on misaligned stakeholders, intangible processes or incomplete data is not an option. It is part of their job (and ours) to help create conditions that are more conducive to change.
  2. The purist. The Lean Six Sigma program is there to serve the business, not the other way around. As a result, taking some out of the box LSS programme and inserting it into the company will not work. The programme needs to practise what it preaches. Listen to the customer, pilot and alter to reflect what has gone well and what hasn’t worked. Yes, we need to keep some rigour in the programme but it needs to be practical rigour. Doing anything else undermines stakeholders, reduces advocacy and most importantly, doesn’t get results.
  3. The statistician. Stats are great. The power of data can never be under-estimated but the basic tools will generally do just fine. Especially in the early days of a programme. In those stages, we cannot afford the luxury of someone that doesn’t see past the numbers. We need people that can identify where statistics are useful and to use them appropriately. Nothing will turn off a senior stakeholder like loads of statistics telling them not a lot. If we want a statistician, we hire one. When we want a project manager, we need someone that manages projects. All the way. To completion. With people. Not from behind a spreadsheet.

  4. The strategist. This is a difficult one. People with strong strategy skills are a great asset but that can’t be their only contribution. We need people that deliver projects but can also work to enhance both the program and the business strategy and execution. And that means they need to be more than a visionary. They need to deliver.

  5. The specialist. It helps to know the subject matter but it often helps even more to have a fresh pair of eyes. One of the real advantages of a Lean Six Sigma programme is that it allows ideas from different industries to be cross pollinated. I often tend to go for generalists with a broad range of experience that I can apply to many different pieces of work. There are some circumstances where the specialist subject matter expertise is required but I do try to minimise them.

What companies Target

  1. An ability to get results. To excel in change, you need a certain X-factor. An ability to find the golden nuggets, to build a passion in others to go after them and to have the drive and perseverance to surpass difficult challenges. It rarely comes down to a technical skill or a people skill. It certainly is not something obtained from a tool. It is gained from a combination of experience and the predisposition to excel in a change environment. Some people have it, many unfortunately do not.
  2. A people person. Business change is built on processes and people. Particularly in the early days of a deployment, we rarely step into a continuous improvement culture. We have to work with our clients to create one. That takes real skill and from everyone involved in the program. We need project managers to take staff with us on the change journey by building advocacy and demonstrating a better way. One Blackbelt with poor people skills can do more damage than ten can fix. As a result, the care and attention we take in selecting the right fit for each role is one of our most important tasks.
  3. Intelligence. Following Lean Six Sigma theory is easy(ish). Applying it in real world situations is not. You need to think on your feet, adapt and have the vision to identify and grasp opportunities. This takes a combination of emotional and cognitive intelligence. And it needs to be harnessed in a short period of time. We don’t have days and weeks to plan every move. We need to plan but also need to react. They need to get things done and to get them done fast.
  4. A communicator. In the early days of stakeholder engagement, we need to convey thoughts and ideas in a manner that doesn’t isolate the audience, builds advocacy and exudes confidence and simplicity. To do all of this, we need to get our points across succinctly, appropriately and clearly. The best solution in the world won’t have legs if it communicated poorly. Additionally, we need to listen effectively. One of our main aims when we work with a client’s workforce is to encourage their ideas and engagement. An effective communicator is imperative in building this rapport and building workforce enabled change momentum.
  5. A Passionate Leader. Change is hard on everyone involved. Including the project manager. We must lead with passion and confidence and resilience. We need people that are seasoned leaders that can create and nurture a spark for change in our client’s leaders, middle managers and staff.