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Strategic Planning Lean Six Sigma Program Office(Part 1) - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Strategic Planning for a Lean Six Sigma Program Office is critical for survival. Unfortunately, many organizations commit to a Lean Six Sigma effort, schedule training, allocate resources, hire Black Belts and work on improvement projects only to see those resources laid off a few years later and watch as the program succumbs to the budget knife.

There are many reasons for a failed effort, but the most common, and saddest, reason for elimination is unfulfilled expectations. This is sad because it’s completely avoidable! With some focused strategic planning, expectations can be set and fulfilled.

If the Lean Six Sigma Program Office is brand new, then creating a Mission and Vision for the Lean Six Sigma Program Office is one of the first steps to get it started on the right foot. A clear understanding of the purpose of the Program Offices is critical. Establishing this kind of clarity will save weeks, months, even years of confusion!

There are many reasons for a failed effort, but the most common, and saddest, reason for elimination is unfulfilled expectations.

Creating a Mission Statement

Why would a Lean Six Sigma Program Office need a Mission Statement?

Having a Mission Statement helps everyone in the organization understand the purpose of the group. There might be a lot of rumors about the intention of a Lean Six Sigma effort. The intent is typically good, like building employee problem solving muscles, streamlining processes and improving customer satisfaction. But, sadly, misinformed employees fear the loss of their jobs, or they assume that Lean Six Sigma is just about company profit. Rumors like these create a barrier to acceptance which is bad news for everybody.

The intent is typically good, like building employee problem solving muscles, streamlining processes and improving customer satisfaction. But, sadly, misinformed employees fear the loss of their jobs, or they assume that Lean Six Sigma is just about company profit.

In addition, if this is a new endeavor, it’s just as important for those assigned to work in the Program Office to understand their own purpose. Misguided Black Belts might crush the hopes of Green Belts with statistical rigor, they might become demanding gatekeepers of project certification status or cherry pick the good projects and take all the credit. Ugh!

The people assigned to the Program Office may not necessarily see themselves as teachers or mentors with a mandate to build an organization of problem-solvers. There’s a way to prevent that.

What is a Mission Statement?

A Mission Statement basically answers the question, “Why do we exist?” And the way to address that is by answering the following questions:

  • What do we do?
    • What are our core services or offerings of value?
  • How do we do it?
    • How do we work? Collaboratively? Accurately? Empathetically? Boldly? Sustainably?
  • For whom do we do it?
    • Who are our customers?

Examples of Lean Six Sigma Program Office Mission Statements

Mission Statements - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Our Mission: Develop a culture in the workplace that cultivates the cycle of continuous improvement by using Lean Six Sigma tools.

Our Mission: We are committed to promoting the adoption, advancement and integration of Lean concepts into our business and help our employees learn and apply process improvement skills effectively.

Mission:

  • We will design an organization and governance model that will enable our company to build continuous improvement capability
  • We will demonstrate the value of continuous improvement through a series of projects that show tangible results for our stakeholders and external customers
  • We will build a toolkit for CPI practitioners that can be re-used in projects and used to train new team members
  • We will define a roadmap to scale up continuous improvement efforts enterprise wide
  • We will support practitioners when they need assistance in applying CPI methodologies

Creating a Vision Statement

Why would a Lean Six Sigma Program Office need a Vision Statement?

Having clarity about where the Lean Six Sigma Program Office is headed and how the office will contribute to a shared vision of the future helps define action steps for today.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen many Lean Six Sigma Program Offices struggle with clarity. Clarity around what the future holds, what they should be doing today to get to where they want to be tomorrow, being strategic about what they should do to get there and how they define and measure success year after year.

What is a Vision Statement?

A Vision is a unique image articulating the ideal future state. If it’s done right, the Vision Statement inspires those who work in the Program Office and reminds them of the ennobling nature of their work. It helps all employees (especially leaders) share the same view of the future.

A Vision Statement answers some of the following questions:

  • What does the future of the organization look like?
  • How will people think? behave?
  • What will our customers (and employees) be saying?
  • What will the work environment feel like?
  • What will be different?

Examples of Lean Six Sigma Program Office Vision Statements

Vision Statements - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Vision: We are the continuous improvement arm of our company. Over time, we want to instill a continuous improvement mentality and culture in the organization – a new way of thinking.

Vision: Build an organization of problem-solvers.

Our Vision: Inspire an empower all staff to continuously improve operations by challenging the status quo.

Vision: Develop people so that every employee is a problem solver and every leader is a coach.

Who should be involved in developing Mission and Vision Statements?

Ideally, those assigned to work in the Program Office and their leaders are involved in developing the Vision and Mission as well as their sponsors from the C-Suite. It’s important to align the Mission and Vision Statements with the organization’s strategic goals and objectives.

It’s important to align the Mission and Vision Statements with the organization’s strategic goals and objectives.

After creating a draft, have these statements vetted by other C-Suite leaders as well as those who will be served by the Lean Six Sigma Program Office such as Department Managers and frontline employees.

Creating a Vision and a Mission will help the Lean Six Sigma Program Office clearly understand who they are, what they do, who they do it for, their purpose and where they are headed.

Next Steps

Once the Vision and Mission are vetted and finalized, the Lean Six Sigma Program Office should conduct a SWOT Analysis. The SWOT Analysis helps identify strengths and opportunities to leverage and barriers and threats to address in order to achieve the Vision and the Mission.

We’ll cover how to conduct a SWOT Analysis in the next post (Part 2 of 4) in this series on Strategic Planning for a Lean Six Sigma Program Office.

After conducting a SWOT Analysis, the Lean Six Sigma Program Office should identify some key goals/objectives and measures of success for the next few years.

Does this sound familiar? Have you had some rough experiences with Program Offices in the past? Are you looking to do it right this time? Stick with me and I’ll talk you through it.

Tracy O'Rourke

Tracy is a Managing Partner & Executive Advisor at GoLeanSixSigma.com. She is also a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Instructor at University of California San Diego and teaches in San Diego State University’s Lean Enterprise Program. For almost 20 years, she has helped leading organizations like Washington State, Charles Schwab and GE build problem-solving muscles.