How to Start or Restart Your Green Belt Program

I’ve been getting a lot of calls lately from people that say, We had a Green Belt program, a Continuous Improvement program and we had good results—but then it kind of fell off and we’re not seeing the results that we want anymore. And they’re asking us, How do we get that going again? How do we get it started?

In this video we’re going to show you three things. How to have a good Green Belt program—and go from good to better to best.

And the way we’re going to do that is we’re going to look at the frequency of the work that we’re doing, the systems that we need in place, and finally, the passion that we have around the program.

When we start a Lean Six-Sigma program, a lot of times what we’ll do is start to build this momentum about we want to change, we want to improve, we want to learn this skillset.

So there’s this growth, and people in the company are starting to get excited and say: We’re going to do this!

And then we do a green belt program which usually starts with a training, and then a green belt project for everybody that’s in the green belt training.

And that’s amazing. Those projects usually go well. They usually take some time because people are new, they’re learning the skill set for the first time, the tools sometimes are complicated.

But once you get through that green belt training, there’s usually some good results that come out.

But what happens after that? Immediately the people are like, whew, that was a lot of work! Now I can go back to my day job and just keep trucking away at what I’ve always done.

And what we see is these programs fall off of a pretty sharp cliff, and then they just kind of peter along for a little while until, eventually, someone calls me on the phone and says, Cedro, how do we get this going again?

That’s a good start. I’d say the frequency of this is a one time. And the systems we’re using primarily are training. We’re getting people trained, giving them the skillset—that’s good. And as far as passion goes, our people are interested. I mean, most people want to improve, they want to grow their skillset, maybe they want to advance in their career, and you need the Lean and Six Sigma tools to do that.

So, they are interested—and that’s a great start. You’ve got a good thing going. How do we take it to the next level? How do we go from good to better?

You need a couple of systems to go from good to better. How do you prevent this cliff of dropping off?

One thing you can do is add an idea funnel system to your Lean Six Sigma program. What that means is that you’re keeping a list in every work area of all the problems that you have.

Where do you go for those problems? If you look at an idea funnel, there’s lots of opportunities for ideas to come in. Where do they come from? They’re coming from your value stream map. They’re coming from your business leaders. They’re coming from your customers. And, hopefully, they’re also coming from your employees. So when we talk about a green belt sphere of influence, one thing we want to do is we want to grow that sphere of influence.

When we do this initial green belt training, their initial sphere of influence is very small. When we add the idea funnel, we’re now putting our green belts in contact with people from other places. The business leaders, the customers, and their sphere of influence is increasing. They’re getting more ideas of things they can work on. And then you can continue to grow that sphere of influence as we go from good to better to best.

The second thing you can do to improve your green belt program and keep it from falling off this cliff is to implement a report out system.

In a typical green belt program, you’re required to report out on your first green belt project, but what if we have multiple report outs scheduled so green belts have to continually report out on all the projects they’re doing?

Best means we’re doing at least four projects—not per quarter, four projects per year—one per quarter.

Now, this is minimum, and this is subjects because it depends on the scope of the projects, but it’s a good goal to set. If you’ve trained someone to a green belt level and they’re working with a team, they should be at least implementing one project per quarter that yields real results.

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