I mentioned that before accepting a new request for improvement assistance, I ask five questions of the company executives. The first question -- "Does your company leadership team understand and embrace their role and are they willing to learn what lean and Six Sigma are all about?”
2) Does your company utilize cross-functional, multilevel teams to get things done??
3) Have you mastered the basic problem-solving tools throughout the company, driving to root-cause corrective actions?
4) Do you have accurate data systems (gauge repeatability and reproducibility) that are easily accessible to the workers closest to the process, and does this data drive your improvement actions?
5) Are the employees empowered to shut a process down if an out-of-control condition occurs, and are there resources instantly available to help the employee identify and implement corrective actions to get the process back up and running?
I have been using these five questions for the past 15 years or so when beginning an engagement with a company’s leadership team. If the answers are not satisfactory -- and there is no indication of the willingness to change -- I will explain my reservations and walk away.
It may be necessary sometimes to add a sixth question to the list…
6) Is the financial community willing to participate in the improvement efforts, assist in the calculation of the financial impact of the improvements and help reshape the accounting systems to more accurately reflect reality?