Expert Excerpts: David Minder on Lean Six Sigma in Financial Services

Expert Excerpts: David Minder on Lean Six Sigma in Financial Services -

Whether you’re just starting your Lean Six Sigma journey, or you’re in the middle of improving a process, guidance from Experts can help make your efforts easier – and more successful! In this Expert Excerpt, we interview David Minder, who shares key insights to being successful with Lean Six Sigma in Financial Services.

David Minder is a certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt leading Process Improvement & Automation groups at First Command Financial Services, Inc., a Fort Worth, Texas-based company that coaches our Nation’s military families in their pursuit of financial security. David has 30+ years of experience spearheading process improvement in such industries as Financial Services, Airlines and Chemical Manufacturing, in functions ranging from Engineering, Quality Assurance and Operations to IT, Human Resources, Sales and Purchasing.

What advice do you have for someone who is getting started with applying Lean Six Sigma in Financial Services?

Getting started with Lean Six Sigma (LSS) in Financial Services is similar to other situations/industries. It, varies depending on each company’s needs. Identifying what’s valued and needed by the business, its customers and stakeholders, and demonstrating how Lean Six Sigma can help, is key.

Do most processes suffer from a lack of application of Lean principles regarding waste, WIP and flow? Or is variation and quality more of a primary concern? A successful proof-of-concept project in the business itself that focuses on the most pressing type of issue creates Pull for more Lean Six Sigma projects, training and coaching. Prioritizing the follow-on work based on the largest impact and best value helps further entrench demand.

Focusing on change management is also key. Never miss an opportunity to help people see what’s in it for them and their coworkers as well as their customers and the business. In addition, be transparent about what you’re doing and why regarding the methodology. Let them know it will take some effort. Letting people know what to expect results in them being more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt when you’re getting started. That way you’ll get the chance to demonstrate successful outcomes for them.

What are some common mistakes you see people making when applying Lean Six Sigma in Financial Services?

Trying to tackle too large of a scope, scope creep and/or over-applying the tools/methods for the problem at hand is one area where people make mistakes. Limiting or phasing the scope of a project can help. The basic tools such as Pareto Charts, Swimlane Maps, Value Stream Maps, the 5 Whys and 8 Wastes are often applicable and very helpful, especially when getting started.

Do you have any pet peeves related to Lean Six Sigma application in Financial Services?

Though not limited to Financial Services, individuals and groups who want to brainstorm and implement solutions using trial and error as their sole problem-solving approach, rather than finding/understanding and then addressing the root causes of a problem. In essence, they could be fixing only a symptom or focusing on the wrong end of the Pareto Chart.

Some ways I’ve seen leaders help mitigate this problem include:

  • Being sensitive to and channeling people’s need to act
  • Being transparent about how a Lean Six Sigma approach can help
  • Using data wherever possible to make the case for following the Lean Six Sigma methodology

Is there anyone that has significantly influenced you over the years?

I had the opportunity to work with some great Master Black Belts and also experienced Black Belt consultants when I was first getting started in Lean Six Sigma, including some of the folks affiliated with Having that mentorship made a big difference in how I approach my work as a Black Belt and has helped me achieve more consistently successful outcomes.

Why do you do what you do? (What motivates you?)

I enjoy helping people accomplish their work in better, faster and easier ways…making it less stressful/more fun to come to work every day. Lean Six Sigma tools and methods make that possible to accomplish consistently and significantly. All stakeholders win when Lean Six Sigma is effectively and collaboratively used as a means to solve problems and make improvements.

What’s something exciting that you’re currently working on?

We are currently automating our main operations for new and existing businesses. We’re focusing our efforts on what’s in the best interest of our clients, while also striving to identify and meet the needs of all other stakeholders in these processes. A motto and goal we have is “correct by design.” We’re continuously learning and refining our approach to achieve successful outcomes for everyone.

What’s your favorite application of Lean Six Sigma in your personal life (away from work)?

As I suspect is the case for many other Belts, I’ve 5S’d the home garage, closets, kitchen, etc. As someone who few would accuse of being a “morning person,” Leaning out my morning get-ready-for-work process has to be my favorite and most successful project. For me in the morning, every second counts!

Have a question for David? Please feel free to ask in the comments below.


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