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Expert Excerpts: Shari Thompson on Lean Six Sigma in Enterprise Solutions - GoLeanSixSigma.com

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 Expert Shari Thompson, who shares key insights to being successful with Lean Six Sigma in Enterprise Solutions.

Shari Thompson works for Exela Technologies and successfully achieved Lean Sigma Black Belt certification through a company-wide initiative while helping clients in the Technology and Energy vertically analyze and solve problems, and implement procedures that eliminate errors and reduce costs. Shari is an experienced change agent and effective communicator with 25+ years of experience in distribution services.

Outside of the office Shari finds time to nurture her creative spirit by baking and on any given weekend she can be found in the kitchen whipping up one of her decadent desserts. When Shari is not in the kitchen she is serving in her community and partnering with organizations that are near and dear to her heart. An avid volunteer Shari is currently in her third year of a five year project in the Bay Area.

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

Understand that you can’t master it all at once and it’s okay if you are not comfortable with all of the tools. Give yourself time to really learn the process and increase your tool set with every project.

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

Tackling things that are not in scope.

Do you have any pet peeves related to applying Lean Six Sigma in Enterprise Solutions?

Underestimating the time or not valuing the time commitment. Teams want the magnitude and speed of change but if it is not a “911” situation, then there’s no incentive. Projects are seen as an extra, “after I do my real job then I can help with this.”

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

John Maxwell. He challenges us to bring value to others. We can consciously add value to people’s lives by doing small things that demonstrate compassion, competence and character. Every day we have an opportunity to either build people up or tear them down.

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

I genuinely enjoy helping people. Managers are expected to do more than lead. They are expected to coach, train, generate new business, contract renewals, safety compliance and so much more. If I can make recommendations or suggestions that save them time and help them manage their people and their businesses better, then I have done my job.

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

Recently I was asked to partner with a team and map the current and future state process using AI — autonomous ground vehicles and robotics. What would the most efficient distribution model look like if the last mile was completed without vans or trucks? What would the process look like if the team could receive, process and stage for distribution in one continuous flow?

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

As a volunteer we use the affinity diagram the most. My team was assigned to prepare a report on affordable housing in the Bay Area. We used it first as an ice breaker to initiate dialogue and help us get to know one another. Then we used it to breakdown the issue into manageable pieces and determine where we could make the biggest impact.

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

Shari Thompson

Shari Thompson works for Exela Technologies and successfully achieved Lean Sigma Black Belt certification through a company-wide initiative while helping clients in the Technology and Energy vertical analyze and solve problems, and implement procedures that eliminate errors and reduce costs. Shari is an experienced change agent and effective communicator with 25+ years of experience in distribution services.