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Your Training Partner Newsletters

February 2009 Newsletter

Posted Feb. 1, 2009
Introducing the Kent State Lean Six Sigma Newsletter

We are pleased to introduce to you the inaugural Kent State Lean Six Sigma/Continual Improvement newsletter. Many of you have requested a vehicle for staying up-to-date on the latest concepts and tools in the field and sharing with each other your approaches and projects within your organizations. Please consider this the opportunity for doing so. You may not realize that approximately 300 professionals have completed the Kent State Lean Six Sigma Black Belt training program with lead facilitator Bob Skillman. This provides you with an awesome group with which to network and from which to share continuous learning.

We hope to have frequent articles written by Kent State’s lead facilitator, Bob Skillman, as well as by our Steering Committee members, and by you, our program participants who we have seen complete amazing projects. We look forward to receiving your suggestions on how to make this a best practice newsletter/listserv that is valuable to you and is quick and easy to utilize for key information. To stay in touch with any one of us at the four Kent State locations involved with the Lean Six Sigma program, simply send an e-mail to: Welcome!

Lean and Six Sigma During Downturns in the Business Some advice from Robert D. Skillman, Kent State University

Adapting to troubled times, versatility is the key
Black Belts need to recognize the economic climate as an opportunity to demonstrate the impact of Lean and Six Sigma Projects
Black Belts need to adapt their skill sets to help navigate the troubled waters
Black Belts must be nimble and able to adapt quickly to the changing economic environment
 Identify the gaps, understand the current profit and loss situation and launch projects with short term benefit, no longer than 30 days
 Accelerate projects that have hard dollar value
Use Kaizen methods to achieve quick results
Stay customer focused; this is not the time for loss of quality or delivery requirements
Communicate with your customers; they are seeing difficult times, too. Look for joint cost reduction projects
Be flexible, but stay on task; focus on cost reduction actions
Precisely track project value in hard dollar impact
 Hold people accountable for generating improvements and reducing waste
These are very challenging economic times, but this represents an excellent opportunity for Black Belts to demonstrate their technical abilities and leadership
Some of the points included come from an excellent article in Quality Progress Magazine, January Issue, by Michael Nichols and Karim Houry, “Adapting to Troubled Times”

Now is the Time – By Bob Skillman

My 401K is now a 201K and still dropping, I may need to keep working after I die. I’m told that we are in a recession. Several of the companies that I coach are reducing staff and laying-off worker bees. I understand that it is a depression when you are laid-off and only a recession when your neighbor is laid-off. How is it for you and for your company?

Some companies are in “Crisis,” some want “Bail-outs” and others are just plain struggling to exist. I remember when Deming wrote his famous book “Out of the Crisis” (mid 1980’s). What is different now? It’s Global and perhaps worse, but it is just another cycle that weeds out the weak and amplifies the strong, just like in nature. Although they may be necessary, bailouts reward underachievement and do nothing for the long-term stability of the company; perhaps they do just the opposite. Many unions still have not figured out that you cannot help the wage earner by destroying the wage provider. There is enough blame to go around; management has, as well, played a huge roll in the failure mode.

So what can be done and where do the Black Belts fit in?

First, we need a business-friendly government that removes obstacles for success, not creates them. Secondly, the old formula that the selling price (product or service) is equal to the cost (of production or services) plus profit is the essential. The clear lever in this formula is the “cost” component. By reducing cost, the selling price can be reduced, creating gains in competitive position. Also the profits can be increased generating strength for the company. The Lean and Six Sigma methods that comprise the core tools for the Black Belt are just the right ticket.

For some companies using Lean and Six Sigma methods represent a paradigm shift from business as usual. Business as usual has created the crisis and if we keep doing what we are doing we will keep getting what we are getting: “crisis.” The best time to succeed with change is when we are in crisis. Jim
Womack even states that if you want to generate a “Lean Enterprise” and you are not in crisis, create one. People resist change except when they are greatly dissatisfied with the “current state.” We just had a national election that makes this point. Even though the change was not clearly understood, it’s just that, for many, the “current state” was no longer acceptable.

Now is the time

Many unenlightened companies are using this time to retreat, cutting improvement actions and reducing or eliminating training budgets. This surrender methodology is exactly the wrong thing to be doing at this time. I fear that when the recovery takes place they may not be with us. This is precisely the right time and place to get aggressive about reducing “cost,” and the Black Belt is exactly the right tool to achieve it.

Kent State Names Lean Six Sigma Steering Committee

Kent State’s Regional Corporate and Community Services and Workforce Development offices at the Ashtabula, Kent, Stark and Tuscarawas offices have collaborated to form a Lean Six Sigma Steering Committee, as the professional development providers plan to enhance the Lean Six Sigma programs and services and market them at the regional and national level. The Steering Committee serves as a vital link between the professionals who plan and deliver Kent State’s Lean Six Sigma offerings and the employers and participants for whom the programs and services are delivered. Kent State’s Lean Six Sigma Steering Committee Members are:

  • Tina Benson, Director of Quality, TechniGraphics, Inc.
  • Dave Delost, Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt, Clinical Data Analyst Quality,University Hospitals Health System
  • Bradley Hill, Division Quality Manager, Parker Hannifin Corporation
  • Dustin Hostetler, Senior Financial Analyst, Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt, Rea & Associates - New Philadelphia
  • Jeff Lewis, Lean Six Sigma Technical Trainer, Plasticolors, Inc.
  • Tom Mego, Director of Quality and Continuous Improvement, Keithley Instruments Inc.
  • Robert Rafter, Director of Operations, Tusco Display
  • MaryEllyn Sedenik, Coordinator, Community Outreach, University Hospitals Health System
The Steering Committee members will offer to Kent State professionals direct advice about Lean Six Sigma and continuous improvement learning needs of Northeast Ohio employees and employers. They will provide feedback and input on program content, marketing approaches and facilitators and identify new programs, market areas and products for Kent State professionals to consider based on first-hand experience within their own organizations. In addition, these leaders in the field will provide assistance in identifying partnerships and organizations with which Kent State might collaborate and refer Kent State professionals to potential organizations, practitioners and leaders interested in Kent State’s programs and services.