Imagine this scenario…your lean Six Sigma (LSS) team has just finished implementing an improvement that saves your organization $5M. Your team celebrates and shares a video on LinkedIn explaining the project and how your team achieved the results, and the next morning you check on the video stat’s to find out 3 million people have viewed the video!
This scenario is commonly described as something that’s “gone viral”. While the example I provide here might be a Utopian LSS dream, what I want to share in this post is learning from things that go viral online, and how we as LSS professionals can use these viral lessons to help our efforts go viral in our own organization.
So what makes something go viral? Typically, there are three ingredients to creating a viral scenario:
1. Simplicity – easy to understand and quickly apply.
2. Relatable – something that can be shared by many.
3. Location – positioned somewhere it will be seen by the masses.
Keep it simple.
This is perhaps the biggest lesson we as LSS professionals need to learn. The process of LSS is in general quite complicated. I find that this is one of the reasons that draws many of us to the profession and methodology. We MBB’s and BB’s love technical stuff, numbers, lots of decimal places, complicated software, etc. We can usually spot a bullet point out of place on a PowerPoint slide from a mile away and tell the difference between 11 and 12 font!
Unfortunately, what attracts many of us to LSS is exactly what deters the masses from embracing it. Never have I come across a client who has told me that LSS is a perfect fit for the complexity they have been looking to add to their already complex work life – nobody is looking for more complexity, so quit trying to over complicate LSS!
If our goal is to spread the LSS “gospel” and get more people using the methodology to solve tough business problems we have to make it easier to use. One simple way to do this is by starting with the goal I share with all my clients at the start of a project, which is to use as few LSS tools as possible in the shortest amount of time that leads to achieving the project goal.
Where we tend to go sideways is by introducing too many tools when more tools almost never leads to more results. What more tools usually leads to is more complexity, more project cycle time, more frustrated team members, and more of a chance LSS will have a no chance of spreading throughout your organization so keep it simple.
Keep it real.
When something goes viral it’s because it’s relatable to you and those you associate with. When we encounter something we can relate to we’re more likely to explore it further.
How we can keep LSS real is by using stories and having a greater understanding of the challenges and frustrations often encountered by those we work with. To really understand the challenges other people in your organization are facing you need to get out and do what I refer to as shaking hands and kissing babies. You won’t gain much in understanding the problems of the people you want to help until you get out of your office and connect with the people in your organization.
What will surprise you is that most people face similar problems throughout an organization such as having too much to do and not enough time; reducing costs; increasing efficiency; improving quality; increasing customer satisfaction; getting more out of the people they manage, etc. In essence, every person in an organization has one common goal – to get better at what they do each and every day. LSS is a great way to help others improve regardless of what they do or where they do it.
Make it visible.
If you can’t see it no one will know it exists. This is probably the easiest of the three viral ingredients to implement. Start with where people hang out and make LSS visible in those areas.
Consider sharing project stories in the conference rooms where people meet. Use pictures and very few words to tell a project story or an application of a simple tool. Use bright colors that cause people to take notice.
Other areas to think about are where people spend time waiting for something like documents at a printer, food in a microwave in an employee lunch area, and maybe even in the bathroom. Anywhere people meet or wait is a good opportunity to catch their attention.
Spreading the LSS “gospel”.
I often tell my clients that LSS projects really have two key goals. The obvious goal is to improve a process by fixing a specific problem, but this is really a secondary goal. The primary goal of LSS is to spread the LSS gospel (also known as the “good” news) throughout an organization so that every day people solve tough problems instead of stepping over them.
When people start to understand LSS doesn’t have to be overly complicated, and they can relate to how LSS may help them fix a problem that’s been nagging at them for a long time they will begin to embrace it.
So get started planting a LSS virus in your organization by keeping it simple, relatable, and making it visible. In time the virus will become contagious and positive change will begin to take hold.
One final thought I’ll leave you with is to start with your leadership team. They are the most contagious group in your organization and will infect faster than any single person can. As goes a leadership team so goes an organization!