Lean Six Sigma and project management - traingles and (virtuous) circles

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Posted by APM on 24th May 2011

Lean and Six Sigma are key process improvement methodologies and, like project management, focus on the triangle of time, cost and quality. Although the origins of Lean and Six Sigma are in the design and improvement of manufacturing processes, could  the principles and tools play a part in achieving successful projects in any sector?  Could effective project management enhance the implementation, embedding and sustaining of continuous improvement initiatives?  Does project management enable Lean Six Sigma or does Lean Six Sigma enable project management?  Which comes first?
 
Elisabeth Goodman and John Riddell of RiverRhee Consulting led a highly interactive session in Stevenage for the East of England Branch to consider these questions and to look at delegates and speakers experiences of Lean and Six Sigma and Project Management.   Delegates exposure to and experience of Lean and Six Sigma ranged from dont know much about it, through one or two days instruction or experience to its part of how I work.  It quickly became clear that many of the tools that delegates used in Project Management were used in Lean and Six Sigma too, and vice-versa. 

In table groups the delegates considered how Lean and Six Sigma might enhance the delivery of projects and what role project managers might have in introducing and embedding Lean and Six Sigma tools.  The groups reported back that Lean and Six Sigma could be used to measure and improve the project process across the portfolio and Voice of the Customer can give good structure to achieving and maintaining stakeholder engagement. 

Project managers have the skills and experience to lead a change programme for making use of the tool set but getting strong sponsorship and developing the culture for an organisation to be receptive to different ways of working is a critical success factor.
 
Feedback from the event included that it had been a very sociable and interesting evening and could we have more sessions like this please!  Elisabeth and John will be taking the event to Norwich on 6th July and places are still available.  Bookings can be made here.

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