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During this free 1-hour intermediate webinar, you’ll learn how to lead and facilitate Lean Six Sigma teams towards success.

Webinar Level

  • Intermediate


  • What Facilitation is all about
  • What Facilitation techniques are
  • Why we need facilitation skills
  • How to assess team needs

Tools & Templates


Elisabeth Swan -

Elisabeth Swan, Managing Partner

Elisabeth is a Managing Partner and Master Black Belt of Elisabeth has over 25 years of success helping leading organizations like Amazon, Charles Schwab, and Starwood Hotels & Resorts build problem solving muscles and use Lean Six Sigma to achieve their goals.

Webinar Slides

Q&As From the Webinar

Webinar Transcript

Tracy: Welcome to’s webinar. We are the go-to improvement methods used by leading companies all over the world. And since you asked, we are providing a webinar series for your learning. And we are very excited to put on this webinar series. We make it easy and we focus on tools and concepts of Lean Six Sigma to help all of our listeners and our audience.

How to Facilitate a Process Improvement Team to Success

So today’s webinar is called “How to Facilitate Process Improvement Team to Success” by our wonderfully talented, Elisabeth Swan. So we really appreciate you guys joining us today.

Our Expert: Elisabeth

Let me just tell you a little about Elisabeth. Elisabeth and I are both Managing Partners and Executive Advisors at Elisabeth is very talented, wonderful instructional designer, always thinking about the audience and the student and their learning experience and she makes it fun. So we’re really excited to hear about this webinar, Elisabeth. And let’s see what else.

Who Is

So let me tell you a little bit about Go Lean Six Sigma. We are an organization that really does care about what we deliver for our customers and how do we make it as easy as possible to understand and enjoy Lean and Six Sigma training and concepts.

We have heard from a lot of our customers so far that our training is not only productive, practical, and easy but really fun too and practical. So, we are really happy to hear that. And if you haven’t tried our training yet, we hope you do because we are proud of it.

We’ve Helped People From…

So next slide. Here are some of the people that we’ve helped in Lots of these organizations as you can see are administrative as well as manufacturing type organizations. And they have really told us a lot about our training as well.

How to Interact

So before we get started, let’s talk about how to interact. And I’m going to give you a few reminders. So during the presentation, all the attendees are going to be in listen-only mode. There will be a questions and answer session following the presentation so please feel free to ask questions at any time actually. You can type them in the window, the little green – it’s circle with the – right there in the chat window in green. And you can ask any question you like and we will reserve them and answer them at the end.

And we would also have some polls that you’ll be participating in. And we hope you really enjoy the session.

Let’s Interact!

So the first thing I would like to ask you is where are you from? That’s your first practice interactive session. So please, share your location in the question area in your control panel and let’s see where everybody is coming from today.

Elisabeth: Can you see them?

Tracy: Let me see. Questions, here we go. All right. Ready? Lowell, San Antonio, Texas, Boston, Cameroon. We went to the Olympic soccer game for that. St. Louis, Missouri, West Virginia, Colorado, more from San Antonio. I’m sensing that might be the City of San Antonio. Alexandria, Tampa, Houston, Ireland, Raleigh, North Carolina, Kalamazoo, Tacoma, Washington, New York, Madison, Wisconsin, LA, Hawaii, Lexington, Nigeria.

Oh, I’m out of breath, Elisabeth. You’ve got a lot of people.

Elisabeth: That’s great. Thank you, Tracy. And thanks everyone for joining us from around the world. It’s very exciting for Tracy and I to see where these webinars reached. It’s kind of incredible.

Today’s Agenda

So let’s dive into our agenda for today. We’re going to get into as Tracy said how to facilitate a process improvement team to success. So we’re going to talk about what is facilitation, what do we mean by that. We’re going to talk about why we need those things. Then we’re going to talk about how to assess whether a team – what a team needs in terms of facilitation and then we’re going to give you some facilitation techniques that you guys can use beyond the webinar.

What is Facilitation?

So, facilitation comes from the word “facile” which means easy. So basically, you’re just trying to make things easy for other people. That’s your job. And it’s going to help you – you want to make things easy so they help you. You want to make it easy so they learn DMAIC, the problem-solving method. And then you want to make it easy for them to build their own problem-solving skills because we’re all about building problem-solving muscles.

So, facilitation comes from the word “facile” which means easy.

So let’s get into why you might need facilitation. So these are a crew that you may be familiar with and let’s just go through and talk about them a little bit.

Jump-to-Solution Joey, he might have some great ideas but he may also derail your meeting. So you got work to do. You got things to get done. It’s fun to go solution. If you think about Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control, the DMAIC method will improve, it’s where all the fun happens. So it’s not hard to understand why someone wants to jump there.

Disengage Debbie. I call this kind of person a passenger. They might come to meetings but it doesn’t really make a difference. They’re not engaged. They’re not there.

Corporate-Climber Cliff might help you, might not. It depends on what’s good for him. So that’s someone you have to understand.

Tyrant Tim. We all have been in meetings where someone else took over and it’s often difficult to figure out, “All right, what do I do now?”

Blah-Blah Betty. This is anyone – and people are usually unaware that they’re taking up a lot of airtime. But suddenly, the meeting is over and you haven’t gotten to what you needed to do.

Silent Sam on the other side probably has ideas, may even care deeply about the topic but doesn’t feel comfortable talking, so you don’t get the input you need.

Negative Nancy. We’ve spent a whole webinar on Negative Nancy but we’re going to work on more techniques today that will also help with the naysayers.

Texting Ted, a modern problem. But it’s becoming fairly prevalent. So looking at some techniques to deal with the good old Ted.

Busy Bonnie and Slippery Sue, both familiar. You can’t really count on them.

So we’re going to think about, how does facilitation help with these troublesome types?

Why Do We Need Facilitation?

Why do we need facilitation?

So one, make it easy for these members, these sometimes difficult members to become productive team members. So how do we make that happen?

You also want to stay connected to your workmates.

You also want to stay connected to your workmates. So these are – facilitation is going to help you connect to other people. You got to stay connected to make process improvement happen. This is also your way to get stakeholders involved. You got to reach out to people beyond your team. So facilitation, you might be pulling people in beyond the team, subject matter experts, people whose goodwill you rely upon. You might need data from them. You might just need to change the way they do their job. Facilitation will help there.

It’s also going to help you move quickly through the deliverables of your project. So the more easy, the more facile you make this project, the quicker you’re going to get to success, the faster you’re going to reach your deliverables. So let’s now talk about, how do we assess what kind of facilitation a team might need? Because you need different facilitation for different issues.

The Alignment Model

So what we use is the alignment model. So this is not just a model, it’s also a diagnostic tool. It helps us understand why things go wrong. So let’s first go through and see what this is all about.

Before we go to the poll, I’m going to say first, there’s purpose. We’re going to start at the bottom, at the base of this pyramid. So what is the purpose, which means, why does this team exist? What is the purpose of this team? So before we even get to the goal of the team, we need to understand that question.

And we’re going to – I’m going to reverse that actually. I’m going to come back up and start at the top. The tip of the iceberg or the tip of the pyramid, I’m mixing two metaphors, both really helpful.

So let’s start with interpersonal relations. So first, if people are not getting along then you need to look down one layer. So if people are not getting along in the team, if there’s tension, I’m going to go one layer down and look at procedures. Are we following the procedures? And by that I’m talking about, how does the team operate? What do we agree to do for planning, communication, decision-making, problem-solving? What procedures did we agreed to follow? Are we following them?

If we are, then I’m going to look another layer down. I’m going to look at roles. Are we playing the agreed upon roles? Is everyone doing what they said they would do?

Next, if roles are still clear and people are doing exactly what they said, then you move to goals. Are we still on track?

Next, if roles are still clear and people are doing exactly what they said, then you move to goals. Are we still on track? Are still trying to hit the goal we agreed to? Are we trying to reduce cycle time to two days or less? Are we trying to reduce errors by 50%? What goal did we agreed to? Are we still on track on that goal?

And back down to that purpose. Why does the team exist? If the goals are clear, are we clear on why we set those goals? Why does this team exist in the first place? So this is a diagnostic model.

And that brings me to a poll for you guys which is, where does misalignment happen most for you? So if you think about when you’ve been on a team and where people have not gotten along, I want to know, do you think it’s because people weren’t following the procedures they agreed to? Do you think it’s because they weren’t playing the role they agreed to? Do you think it’s because you got off track and people forgot what the goal was or started chasing something else? Or do you think it’s very fundamental they don’t even know why the team exists, the purpose is unclear?

Quick Poll

So I’m going to launch that poll for you guys. And then Tracy, you’re going to see – Tracy and I are going to see where you all land on these different aspects. So go ahead and place your bets.

Tracy, where have you seen in your experience where people have the most trouble?

Tracy: So I was going to say goals. And the only reason why is because in DMAIC, typically, they don’t understand what the poll is. It’s so different than a regular like an implementation meeting in terms of project management is basically we’re going to implement the software program. OK, let’s do it. Go. OK. Where are we at? How are you doing?

But DMAIC doesn’t work like that. A lot of people go, “I don’t really know what the goal is. And I go, “Exactly! We don’t know. That’s the whole point.” We don’t know what the root cause is yet.

So that’s what I typically find is the issue.

Elisabeth: OK.

Tracy: In DMAIC.

Elisabeth: In DMAIC. OK. So let’s see what these guys – I’m going to close the poll. I’m going to share results.

Tracy: OK. So it looks like roles description, 36%, was the highest, and action list or having a RACI matrix, 23%. Ground rules or setting and establishing ground rules, 20%, and then meeting agenda , 14, and meeting evaluation plus delta is 8%.

Elisabeth: OK. So these are the actual pieces that represent these different areas. So if it’s roles that are difficult then a roles description would have been the tool that was most useful. And ground rules procedures, whether people are doing what they said they did.

OK. So that’s good. So roles description comes out on top. Ground rules, OK. Very good. So let’s come …

Tracy: Lucky for our listeners because again, like in DMAIC, if they don’t understand the project and they don’t understand the idea of DMAIC which is different than a project management type operation, they will get confused.

Elisabeth: Yeah. OK. Well, thank you for that. That was helpful information.

The Alignment Model

So let’s move on and let’s look at the different aspects of this model.


Let’s start down with purpose and try to understand again why does the team exist? So this often feels like it should be obvious but it’s not always clear to everyone. People often start right with the goal as Tracy said that it’s critical to get the goal right.

But below that is why do we have that goal? That’s a target. That’s a measure but doesn’t explain why. And this is something that will help with someone who is disengaged. If they know why we’re doing what we’re doing, it will make a difference. People get used to the way a process is functioning. Even if it’s dysfunctional, you have to make its pace for change.

Purpose at Bahama Bistro

So let’s talk about how we do that. I’m going to bring you back to our case study. We always use the Bahama Bistro for our case study. We’re going to do it again today.

Purpose gives us alignment. And if you don’t have alignment then you get a lot of wasted energy.

So looking at a particular – we can go in any aspect of this chain I’m going to give you because this is all about alignment. Purpose gives us alignment. And if you don’t have alignment then you get a lot of wasted energy. A lot of people are working in a lot of different directions.

So we’re to start now with this idea of why are we doing this? And it answers the question for the sake of what. There’s a great quote from Francis Ford Coppola, the movie director, where he said, “What makes the difference between having a good movie and making a bad movie is getting everyone involved in making the same movie.” So purpose helps you get that alignment of we’re all working on the same thing.

So first, if we look at particular activity, a goal for the Bahama Bistro was increase the number of Lean Six Sigma classes taught. OK. That’s a goal. And maybe they’ve got a target. They want to have so many per month. But the question is, for the sake of what? Why are we doing that? Well, it’s to train the wait staff in the Lean Six Sigma tools and techniques. OK?

Now, you have a goal; increase the number of employees that are on Lean Six Sigma projects. Great. We’ve got more employees on Six Sigma projects. I can count. The more the better. Great. But why? For the sake of what?

Well, so employees are able to improve the Bahama Bistro processes. So they’re able to improve. All right?

Let’s cascade up again. Another goal is to reduce the minutes of lead time from order to delivery. All right. So now, we have an actual project and we have a goal on that project, reduce the amount of lead time. Great. Once again, for the sake of what? Why? Why do we have this goal? Well, so customers can enjoy their food without waiting. OK?

And then once again, we come for the sake of what? Well now that we get right to their mission statement, to provide our customers with tasty food, thoughtful service, and a joyful slice of island life. And that’s their mission.

So everything should cascade all the way up so that it’s in alignment with corporate strategy. So always thinking about why are we doing this? And I should be able to do a direct line all the way to strategy. That should be clear.

And if you think about hospitals, you might have a goal and it might be to reduce rework to less than 2% on a particular hospital form. Well, once again, for the sake of what? Why? Who cares?

Well, if the form the patients fill out when they’re having surgery and fewer mistakes impacts their health and recovery. OK. Now, that’s to the mission of a hospital. Now, I get it. I know for the sake of what. So knowing purpose goes a long way toward engaging someone like Disengaged Debbie.


All right. So now, let’s move to goals. So next stop was understanding what’s the goal of the team. And Tracy brought up a great point on this because I hear goals that say, “Our goal is to streamline the application process.” That sounds great, sounds positive. Streamlining is a good word. I like that. I want that to happen to my project. But I have no idea how that’s going to get measured. What does that mean? Is that we’re going to improve the cycle time? Is that something around amount of waste, what waste looks like?

So I need to know – how will I know if it’s successfully streamlined? I’ve also heard teams say, “Our goal is to improve the shipping process.” Well, how do we know if it has been improved? Again, I need to know specifically what we are measuring.

So, this one could actually help someone with their own agenda. We need to know what does this team going to accomplish and understand how the rest of the organization will view this team. So if we got the right purpose, we’re in alignment with the organizational mission, strategy and outcomes, then that’s going to help with getting the goal right. And that’s going to help with someone who is looking to see how am I going to be viewed in terms of this project? So that’s a great thing to help with you and also with other. Are we following our dashboard matrix? All right?

Next stop, this is a tool to use with goals. And a lot of you are probably familiar with this, the acronym S.M.A.R.T. And for those of you that are not familiar with it, a S.M.A.R.T. goal is one that is specific. Are we talking about hospital form? Are we talking about a shipment? Is that the unit? Specific, Measurable. Again, what does improvement look like? Are we going to reduce cycle time? What are the minutes? Are we going to get more shipments out? How many? I’m going to be able to measure that.

Achievable. You’ve heard phrases like “boil the ocean” or “kill world hunger.” Do you have a project that is so big that there’s no way you can achieve it. So you want to make sure it’s achievable.

And then relevant, is this again attached to our strategic objectives? Is our purpose on track? So this ties the goal to the purpose and to the organizational goals.

And then T is time-bound. So when is this going to be done? Projects often have a timeframe of three months, four months, six months. When is this improvement going to hit? Is it going to hit by the end of the project? Is it going to hit six months after the project is over? When will we see this improvement?

So having a SMART goal means you’ve got a good goal. So you’re going to use that just as a method for clarity. And that’s going to let the team know when they are considered successful.


All right. From goals, we are going to move on to roles. And for roles, we’re talking about basically who does what. And this is something where you can think about it in terms of the project team itself. What’s your role on the project team? And then you can also think of this in terms of what’s my role in this meeting? Meeting roles are different from project team roles. And sometimes roles get a little bit stuck. We start playing the same role on a team but that’s not necessary.

So this is – if we get roles properly, that’s going to help us with troublesome teammates like Busy Bonnie and Tyrant Tim. If you think about – that’s the spectrum. We’ve got someone who is taking more than their role on or a role that’s not theirs. And then you’ve got someone who is sort of not taking on their role, not doing their job. So there is that whole spectrum that’s helped by looking at exactly and clarifying what people’s roles are.

So this next tool is going to help us with that. So if you think about roles, you got as I said, the meeting roles and the project roles. Now on the meeting side, different people could facilitate. It doesn’t have to be the Team Lead. Different people can scribe. If you have a facilitator and you let somebody else scribe then it frees up the facilitator to really think about the process of the meeting. And the person who is scribing can really focus on the words and getting those up on a flipchart. You got a note-taker of what’s happening in the meeting, what have we agreed to.

Logistics, usually bring the fun. Bring the doughnuts. But also schedule and figure out where we can meet or if this is an online meeting, when is that going to happen, what’s best, what works for the group.

And then a timekeeper, to make sure you’re sticking to the agenda.

On a project side, you’ve got the team sponsor or champion, they may or may not be in every meeting, the Team Lead, the team members, subject matter experts, they may come in occasionally, and then suppliers and customer reps. You may also bring those in.

So, the ones on the right, those stay fairly in place. But on the left, those can change. So if you think about making the roles clear, if you have a Busy Bonnie then ask her what role she wants to play. She could be the person – she could be scribing the meeting. She is in the meeting, she can help scribe. It will bring her into the meeting more if she is able to participate. But this clarity of what you expect of each team member will go a long way.

And also help you with someone who has not been declared a facilitator. If you’re clear upfront who is facilitating and Tyrant Tim takes over then you’ve got an option to say, “Hey, I thought Busy Bonnie was facilitating that Tyrant Tim.”


All right. So going off now to think about the next level and that is procedures. So procedure is a very big bucket. This covers a lot. This is how teams make decisions, how they communicate, how they get things done. It’s the team’s playbook and this takes a lot of attention and there’s a lot of possible tools. And this also can impact a lot of your troublesome team members.

So all of these potential trouble types in a meeting will really benefit from having procedural tools. So let’s look at some of the tools that make the biggest difference.

All right. So first, I’m going to say agenda, which seems incredibly basic but I’m often surprised at how often teams get together and there is none or it’s assumed. We think we know what we’re talking about, why spend the time on the agenda? We know it. It’s good. But you want to have an agenda so you know exactly what you’ve decided to accomplish for the team meeting and have it posted.

I’m a big fan of if you’re able to meet physically, to put flipcharts up on wall. If you’re not, we now have as you guys are all using GoToWebinar, we have a lot of online tools to make the same thing happen. You can look at the same thing together. Reference a digital agenda. No big deal.

So agenda, this will help deal with if someone is taking up too much airtime, if you’ve got a Blah-Blah Betty, then you can say, “Hey, we didn’t decide on the form yet and we’ve already used up 5 minutes. We only have 5 minutes left on this. Do we want to spend more time on this other topic because if we do, it’s going to come from the brainstorm.” So exactly where are you going to trade off with your agenda items.

Another important one is ground rules. And this one, again, this could be digital. This could be in a conference room somewhere. Either way, they have to be agreed upon. Even if you can’t literally post them, you want to talk about, “Hey, we said let’s stick to the agenda. Hey, we agreed to no side conversations. Hey, Texting Ted, cell phones are supposed to be off.”

…our lives now are very tied to our cell phones. They’re just basically a traveling computer for all of us.

And cell phone is an interesting thing because obviously that’s – our lives now are very tied to our cell phones. They’re just basically a traveling computer for all of us. But they’ve also gotten to where we are reacting to them all the time.

There are studies that show that every time you get a message, every time someone texts you or you’ve got emails giving you alerts, your body produces cortisol. You’re basically going into a fight or flight mode and that causes you to basically expend energy all day on reacting to every single post that comes through.

So if you get people to turn off their phones for just 30 minutes just the hour, you’re going to be a lot more productive with people’s focus and you can – now that you know that little fun fact, you can tell them, you’re going to save some energy so they can use it later.

Another big one is – what did you say?

Tracy: And I’ll just add that now with Pokemon Go, nobody should bring their phones to the meeting. Just kidding.

Elisabeth: It’s true. OK. The last one – yeah, watch out for Pokemon Go. The other one is great ideas or brainstorming. And this is – I’m putting up Post-It notes because I want to highlight something called Silent Brainstorming in whatever form that you have or whatever the question is. If you’re worried about Silent Sam not being involved, they may just not feel comfortable speaking out in front of the group. It might be hierarchy. It might be just personal preference.

But if you ask people, “Hey, give us some ideas on a Post-It note and just post them.” No one speaks. It’s kind of a little bit of democracy. You get ideas up there. Will there be duplicate ideas? Sure. Is that a problem? No! Just consolidate the duplicates. But it will basically give you more input if you’re concerned about not getting input because you have a Silent Sam on the team. So great method, great idea. And if you’re doing this digitally, you can say, “Everyone should send this in by email.” So work your techniques based on your format.

Action Plan

All right. Another great tool is an Action Plan. And I can’t tell you how many times I have seen a meeting where it’s a great meeting. Everyone feels really good. We got along. We had great discussion. We came to some really good conclusions but we walked out and it really wasn’t clear who is doing what. If you just put an accidental list up, what’s the thing that has to get done, who is doing it, and when are they going to do it? And my rule is, if nobody signed up for it then it’s not happening. So take it off the list. We may have agreed it’s a good thing to do but nobody is going to own it so it’s not going to happen and don’t pretend.

And this is really helpful for Slippery Sue. Your name is on it. You can actually publish this after the meeting. Here’s what we agreed to. Here’s who is doing it. Here’s when they said they get it done by. Once you got that documented, things get a lot less slippery. It’s very helpful.

RACI Matrix

All right. Another one if you want to get a little more sophisticated is a RACI Matrix. So this one is basically taking your action plan and adding a lot more information to it. So this is saying once again the activity or the decision that is in the left hand column but then the names of the team members are going across the top.

And just as a review of what RACI stands for, R is the responsible person. That means they’re the doer. They’re the one actually making things happen.

A is accountable. They may or may not be doing the activity but they are accountable for making sure it happens. Not necessarily the doer but accountable.

Next stop, you got consulted, consulted and informed. And I would say the difference in those is you consult people before you make a decision or have taken action and you inform people after you’ve made the decision and after the action has happened. So that’s a timeframe. Consult before, inform after. And obviously, those being informed are not central. Those being consulted a little more might be stakeholders, might be subject matter experts.

So if you think about Bahama Bistro, if they have an activity like finish the charter, that’s pretty key. They’re all responsible. They’re all going to be participating in it on this team. But the Team Lead, in this case the chef, is accountable. They’ve got to make sure that charter is ready to show the leadership, to show to the sponsor.

All right. So there are two options for tools to make sure people do what they said they were going to do.

Meeting Evaluations

Next stop, you have a Meeting Evaluation. And this one as you can see here, it’s just scoring low to high. You can have any criteria you want for your meeting. You can make it work for you. Do you need to stick to the agenda? Has that been an issue? Are we having time management problems? So these don’t have to be this list but these are kind of classic meeting issues that people run into trouble with. So, looking at just doing an evaluation.

You hand this to people separately. They fill out this form by themselves individually and then you talk about it as a team to see where are the gaps. I thought a balance of participation was good but somebody else thought the balance of participation was not so good. So how do we address that? So you look at those gaps, look at where we didn’t have agreement. And this is not scores to average. This is not, “OK, we had 1 to 4 but if we average it, we came out to a 3.5. That’s not so bad.” The fact that even one person feels like things are not as they should be means we got to address it. So looking at where the gaps were, where the low numbers were and that will help.

Plus Deltas

And then this one is the easiest form of meeting evaluation that you can possibly have. Tracy is very familiar with this one too as well. This one is called Plus Deltas. And just a brief discussion of what do we mean Plus and then Delta.

…Pluses mean what worked about this meeting. What was good?

So Pluses mean what worked about this meeting. What was good? We were on time. We got things done. That’s great.

And then Delta means don’t just tell us what didn’t work. Tell us what you want to change. So Delta stands for change.

..Delta means don’t just tell us what didn’t work. Tell us what you want to change.

So if you – Tracy and I when we run training events, we’re asking everybody, “Give us the Plus Deltas, what worked about our training is especially important.” Early on when we’re running a workshop, we’ll say, “What worked today? What do you want to see changed for tomorrow?” And we’re really pleased when most of the Deltas are about either the food or the venue and nothing to do with the facilitator.

So looking at Plus Deltas, you’re looking at what worked and if people didn’t find something that worked then they’ve got to say, what would they change? So it’s a way of getting suggestions so that you can correct it for the next meeting or correct it for your next workshop.

Is that familiar, Tracy?

Tracy: Absolutely. We love to hear all kinds of feedback. And even if it is about the facilitator, we will take the feedback because it’s mostly good. Right?

Elisabeth: Yeah. It’s true. No. Feedback as we say, it’s a gift but you can feel free to re-gift it. How about that?

How to Diagnose Misalignment

OK. So that brings us to how to diagnose misalignment. And this is another tool you guys get. All these tools are free. You can download them. But this is one is specifically to pull together all of the information about how the team diagnose their own alignment. So the layers of the alignment model are on the left. So now, we’ve reversed them. Purpose is on top. You want to get back here first. And the goals.

And just a reminder, purpose – we are clear on why we exist as a team. You take that statement and you give your level of agreement. I have low level of agreement. We don’t – we are not clear on why we exist or high, we are very clear. We’re totally in line with strategy.

Again, goals. We are clear on what success looks like and how it will be measured. Again, low means I don’t agree with that. I don’t feel clear or I don’t think everyone is clear. It might not just be you but your sense of the team. How clear is the team on us being clear on our success and how we’re being measured?

Next level down, roles. We’re all doing our part as we agreed. And this is again whether it’s meeting role that we have facilitators being facilitators or we have scribes doing their job or that we agreed to rotate the roles. We agreed that different people would facilitate every meeting and yet, Tyrant Tim is a facilitator every single time. Well, let’s revisit that ground rule because we agreed that we would rotate those. So roles, are we doing what as we agreed?

Procedure, and that’s that big bucket, right? Are we using consensus? Because we said we were going to use consensus on the big decisions. Is Slippery Sue sending out the meeting minutes because she agreed she was in charge of that and they would go out the day after the meeting? Is that happening? Are we evaluating our meetings as we agreed or are we just kind of following along and getting into a groove and forgetting to use procedures we agreed on?

I talk about the second law of thermodynamics which is the law of basically entropy. Everything goes from a higher state of order to a lower state of order. So unless you use tools, unless you actually spend time trying to maintain order then things are going to go to disorder. So these rules, they may feel overdone sometimes or the procedures may feel, do we have to operate at that level of specificity? But if you don’t, when you relaxed, then you’re going to just invite some form of disorder. So watch out for getting lax on things as you go along.

And if you get this right, if you are clear on the purpose, if the goal is a S.M.A.R.T. goal, if the roles have been clearly outlined and everyone knows what they agreed to, if the procedures also have been outlined and made easy, don’t make things difficult, if there is a quicker way to get it done, use the quicker way. Don’t make people struggle or spend more time on something that they don’t need to be spending time on. But if those are good, then you’re going to get along.

Interpersonal relationships will be OK if all this is in alignment. And if it’s not, then you go one level up. Remember that. Interpersonal relationships, things not going right, go one up to procedures. Procedures seem to be following what we said we would all do, one up.

Roles. Are we playing the roles we agreed to? Roles look good.

Goals. Are goals clear? Are we still on track?

And if that looks good, purpose. Have we wondered or are we not clear on why we exist as a team? So it’s a diagnostic tool and this is a tool for it.

Alignment at Bahama Bistro

And here’s an example of the Bahama Bistro filling out their own alignment diagnostic and just looking at where we’d want to focus if we had this kind of a response. First of all, at least one person is not feeling – they’re right in the middle there on purpose. That’s enough. That’s enough of a low score to focus in there and say, “Why?”

Roles. One person is unclear. That’s all you need. Let’s clarify whether it’s team roles or whether it’s meeting roles. Let’s get some clarity.

And then procedures as you can see, if I look on the bottom, I saw all kinds of interpersonal. We got 1s, 2s, something is going on. And the bulk of it is happening right there in procedures. You can see it.

So diagnostically, did this show us what was going on and how did we address it?

Tracy, I know you do this a lot with teams. What’s your experience when you do the diagnostic using the goal, roles, procedures?

Tracy: I think most of us have sat in really productive meetings and not so productive meetings. And when they’re not productive, people don’t know necessarily how to handle it or they’re not sure.

So for example, you might have a group of people that you know are really interactive at most times and then they get into the meeting and they’re not contributing, they’re not talking, they’re not – so sometimes as a meeting facilitator or Team Lead, we have done this live. So we put up a lot of the things Elisabeth had up there in terms of explaining the purpose, the goals, the roles, and the procedures and interpersonal relationships, and we would have them read them just like Elisabeth walked us through. And then we would have them share their rating with the team.

…you’re opening up a dialogue about how the team’s productivity is without focusing on the people that are participating.

So there are two benefits to this. One, people get to – you’re opening up a dialogue about how the team’s productivity is without focusing on the people that are participating. It’s really around the process of a meeting, which is really important. So it’s kind of again, we’re not saying, “Oh, we’re not productive because this person on our team sucks,” or something like that.

It’s really around what are the other pieces that we really need to think about. And what I have found is when you give people a framework that is safe to talk through some of the problems that the team maybe experiencing, it really helps the team communicate much better. And I find it works really well. And so, we just go around the room and we have people say, “This is what I rated it and here’s why.” And then we say, “OK, so most of you said procedures. So let’s talk about what is going well.”

So then we move into Plus Deltas. We say, “Well, what’s going well about the procedures and what’s not specifically? And what can we do to address those things?” So it is a great framework that I really feel like helps teams mend in terms of working better together.

Elisabeth: Yeah. That’s great. And I like the follow on of the Plus Delta. That’s a nice technique to say, OK, if it’s procedures, let’s do a Plus Delta. What procedures are we following? What are we not doing so that we can do a follow-up?

Tracy: Yeah. And I think the other thing is sometimes it’s – something is related to the leader. They’re not – they said they would have an agenda and they’re not. And I think if anything, it provides a safe environment to talk about those things without saying, “You’re not setting up the agenda, dude.” And some people are just not comfortable with that and they need a framework to have a discussion around it that feels productive and professional.

Elisabeth: Yeah. So I’m going to come back to just this goals, roles, procedures, interpersonal relationships. And I want everyone to reflect on where misalignment happens most for you. So this one, I’m going to go straight to the model and I want to get a poll on the model itself.

Quick Poll

So go ahead, this is our last poll, and tell us basically where in this model you think you have most of the trouble. And see if this reflects on the tools we talked about earlier or see if this aligns with the tools that people said they needed earlier on.

OK. So I’m going to close it and share.

Tracy: OK. So it looks like I have some agreement on that, goals, clarity on success looks like where the misalignment is happening most followed very closely by roles, knowing who does what. Oh, I’m sorry. I messed up. It’s really procedures, 34% is procedures, using the agreed upon processes. That is the highest.

So I think that helped, Elisabeth, to know how many procedures are in there because that was really comprehensive. And then goals, it’s followed by goals second and roles third. And then the last, purpose, 10%.

Elisabeth: OK. So people know why it’s the highest. All right. Let’s come back and do a little recap.

Templates and Tools

We got templates and tools. So you got roles descriptions that you can use. That’s going to help specifically with people knowing what they’re supposed to be doing.

Meeting Agenda, Ground Rules, Action List or the RACI, Meeting Evaluation or Plus Deltas, those are all about procedures. So we have a lot of tools there that was the biggest bucket for where people thought they needed help. And that’s all online you guys. We’ll put them on – when we post this webinar, we’ll give you links to all those tools.

Today We Covered

So now you know what we mean by facilitation, why it helps. You got all the troublesome types and teams. You got interpersonal relationships that can largely be avoided. Issues with interpersonal relationships can be avoided using these tools and techniques.

And now, you have a diagnostic model which is really easy, goals, roles, procedures, to figure out what’s going wrong with the team.


Alright. So in terms of Q&A, what we want to do is you have the opportunity to ask us questions based on today’s topic. So go ahead under question. Ask things. And while you type those in and before we come back to your questions, let’s give you a moment for that and just tell you some other things you guys have access to.

Getting Started

Those of you unfamiliar, you’ve always got free Yellow Belt. There’s Green Belt. There’s Black Belt. There’s Lean training and certification all available to you.

Upcoming Webinars

We’ve got an upcoming webinar, How to Avoid Process Improvement Bloopers and Blunders. Tracy, do you want to give us a description of that?

Tracy: Sure. So I think what’s interesting when we have new people try to do process improvement, they actually do projects that well, they’re not really improving the process. So as an example, they might say, “Well, we did this project.” And then when they tell me about it, what they ended up really doing is pushing the work to somebody else. So it made their process easier but it didn’t make the overall process easier.

To me, that’s a process improvement blooper. You’re not going to – people are not going to want to do additional process improvement. It just means other people are going to do more work and we didn’t really improve the process.

So I think understanding the process improvement bloopers and blunders helps people to see, oh, maybe that’s not really a process improvement project. So that’s what we’re going to be talking about in our next webinar.

Elisabeth: I’m looking forward to that one, Tracy.

Just-In-Time Podcast

The other thing we’ve got is a series of podcasts. It’s the Just-In-Time Café. We always have a featured interviewee and then we talk about tips, apps, books all related to Lean Six Sigma.

Tracy, you’ve interviewed Mike Osterling. You want to tell us about that?

And it’s a really great podcast. So listen if you can.

Tracy: Yes. Mike Osterling for those of you that don’t know, is an author of many books, The Kaizen Event Planner, Value Stream Mapping, Process Mapping that’s based on matrix. And he co-wrote many of those books with Karen Martin. And we’ve got a chance to interview him. And actually, he and I teach at San Diego State University together in the Lean Enterprise Program. And he really shares his story about how he got started in process improvement and about some of the books that he has written. And it’s a really great podcast. So listen if you can. It’s coming up very shortly.


Elisabeth: Yeah. Please join us. OK. So let’s come back to the Q&A, Tracy.

Tracy: Yes.

Elisabeth: What are you seeing out there for questions?

Tracy: So we had a question from Laura. And Laura asked, “Is it a requirement to have the responsible individual be a different person than the accountable individual on a RACI Matrix?”

Elisabeth: Oh, that’s awesome. It’s a very good question, Laura. So the accountable person could also be the responsible person. You might even have a task or a decision that is so contained that the person who is responsible is also accountable. The A or the R could be the same person.

The thing to watch out for with accountability is to only have one person in a group be accountable.

The thing to watch out for with accountability is to only have one person in a group be accountable. If you have more than one person who is accountable, they’re the go-to person, that’s the phrase we use is the “the box stops here”, if more than one person is accountable then nobody is accountable. So critical to have only one A but you could be both accountable and responsible.

Tracy: Someone had a quick question, Elisabeth on the alignment model. They said, what does the IPR mean again at the top?

Elisabeth: We always say, “Watch out for TLAs” three-letter acronyms.

Tracy: Right.

Elisabeth: It’s our job to spell those out. So my apologies for not spelling that out. That is interpersonal relationships. The IPR, the tip of the iceberg or the pyramids since we’re combining metaphors, that’s where you start to see that there’s misalignment when people aren’t getting along. So IPR, interpersonal relationships.

Tracy: Right. We have another one. How do you manage someone who does not respect the rules or the roles?

Elisabeth: I always come back to Deming on this. There is – I think he upped it from 95 to even higher. But he said, “95% of process problems are the process, that the issues are due to the process.” But there is always that small percentage that is people. So there are going to be people that no matter what tools you use, no matter how clear you are, they’re going to cause problems.

So at that point, I do my best. I do my best with the procedures I’ve got, with the tools that I’ve got. I do my best with my champion, my sponsor. Who have I got that’s going to help me with breaking down barriers, dealing with staff issues? I might even decide I’ve got to change the makeup of my team and bring somebody else in. But I’m just going to acknowledge there are times when it’s the person that’s the problem and not the procedures, not the rest of the alignment model.

Tracy: Thank you, Elisabeth. OK. One more from Rita, “How do you handle a team that is not motivated and unwilling to work with the team leads?” Sounds like interpersonal relationships to me.

Elisabeth: It does. And I still would go through – thanks, Rita. I would go through the alignment model. I would still do that diagnostic and try to figure out where did that – where do we go wrong because it almost sounds like a purpose issue. Are we clear on why we’re doing what we’re doing?

I often find people get very excited. If they’re the team lead, we’re going to reduce defects. And people don’t often get excited about defects. Can we tie this to something more aspirational? If we reduce defects, what happens? The customers have better experiences then what? Is this – what industry are we in? What’s going to happen to the end customer?

So I often find if I can connect what we’re doing to the end customer, that makes a big difference. And it maybe just also a time to do one of these models and find out what is it that people are having a problem with? Often, they haven’t had a chance to explain or to kind of vent. If they’re not connecting, they’re not getting along, what are they not seeing? You could do – we’ve actually got a – there’s a cool app out there called Suggestion Ox. It’s employee feedback and it’s anonymous.

So you could set up a suggestion box with this person for this team and then ask people to basically make suggestions. What would make this team work better? Because sometimes it’s a little too public to give feedback or even Post-It notes feel too public when people want to give criticism. But if you make it anonymous and that’s one of your methods you can use then you got a way to get feedback that you can figure out what has gone wrong with the team and how to address it.

Tracy: Alright. Thank you, Elisabeth. OK. Here’s one for you. How do I properly escalate problems of staff not meeting deadlines when upper management will not discipline the people?

Elisabeth: Yeah. That’s also a very difficult one. We always say it much depends on leadership. So if leadership is not going to basically hold up their end in terms of accountability or their responsibility is and that’s a role’s issue and you may or may not have the, I call it positional authority to address this, I’m assuming when you say leadership, these are people above you.

But I have meetings with champions and sponsors where we review what’s a champion and a sponsor supposed to do? What do we need from them? They may need clarity on what their role is, which is accountability for people meeting deadlines. So reviewing roles with them.

There’s an article on the website about the role of a champion. That’s often really helpful. I think you can just do a search on role of a champion. There’s also – Yellow Belt will people sort of understand the role of a champion. There’s White Belt that’s a one hour, free again, all of these, that will help people – help leadership understand their role. Those might be of help.

Tracy: Can I share a suggestion as well, Elisabeth?

Elisabeth: Yeah, please do.

Tracy: So one of the things that I’ve done too is if people show up at the meeting and they actually had something to do and we really can’t move forward without that being done, if they’re showing up at the meeting, I immediately cancel the meeting and I work with them to get it done for that hour. But I do it in a way that is respectful. So I’m not – it’s all in the delivery, right?

I mean if you truly want to help them then you’re giving them time to work on it. And if they really are busy and they feel bad, you’re helping them get it done. But again, it doesn’t – it should not be done in a way that makes them feel bad like they’re being punished. So the delivery is really important if you do that. But I have found that works really well and they actually say thanks because, “I really felt bad that I wasn’t able to do it and now I have time.”

Elisabeth: I like that. I’ve done it on coaching calls where they came in without a particular deliverable and it’s like, “OK, let’s dive in. Let’s do it together.”

Tracy: Yeah, let’s do it together. Let’s do it right now. Because obviously at the meeting, so that means they’ve got some time and we can adjust the agenda. And then guess what? Everybody else gets free time too. So they get to fall back. So I actually release people that are not needed for that task.

Elisabeth: Yeah, which is also a gift of time for them.

Tracy: Yeah.

Elisabeth: OK. Good one.

Tracy: I’ve got another for you Elisabeth. How to deal with very strong personalities which erode the morale of the group? And that’s from Sharon.

Elisabeth: Again, let’s see. I would come back to using the tools. A strong personality often I find that silent brainstorming using Post-It so that other people get a say, you’re trying to find ways that are not giving the strong personality a venue is what I look at it, the way I look at it. So what techniques do I have to bring in other people? And that’s usually using digital. It’s email. It’s Post-Its. But you’re trying to pull others in in other ways.

Tracy, what’s your – do you have other tools or techniques on that one?

Tracy: Oh, I was looking at the next question. So yes, so how to handle strong personalities. Yes. If I – so I had unfortunately a situation where the leader of the group was the difficult personality. And I had to sort of have what I would call a pre-meeting and a post-meeting any time she came into the meeting because literally, every time she came in, she just weighted the group.

And so, I had to sort of prep her and it was more around here’s what we’re going to cover, here’s what we’re going to be doing, do you have any issues with this or concerns. So I’ll be asking her so she’d be seeing some of the stuff we were going to be doing. And then I would ask her to do something positive. And what do I mean by that? I wouldn’t say, “Do something positive, will you?” I would say, “Could you do me a favor and please thank the group and tell them how much you appreciate them working on the project? I think that would help a great deal.”

So I think a technique I’m suggesting is to – you got to take sometimes – you got to take that step sometimes outside the meeting and address it, pre-meeting or post-meeting, and do it in a way that I always focus on what I want them to do. I try not to focus on, “This is what you did wrong and here’s what I didn’t like,” that doesn’t go very well. It’s more – it’s a little easier to say, “Here’s what I really like to see you do or here’s what I would really love for you to help me with.” Those work better.

Elisabeth: Yeah. I always start with the likes, what do I like about what you’re doing? And then if I do want to bring some kind of concern out, I would immediately follow it with a suggestion.

I always start with the likes, what do I like about what you’re doing? And then if I do want to bring some kind of concern out, I would immediately follow it with a suggestion.

And the other one I like about that Tracy, the feedback sandwich. If you give anything that’s going to be perceived negatively, start positive then give the concern, end with a positive. So I think that’s actually great advice on dealing with the strong personalities because there are probably things they add that are good.

Tracy: Yeah. And the other thing is sometimes it’s sharing their opinion and it’s just the way they see it in the meeting just sucks energy out of people. And so, sometimes I ask people to share their concerns with me personally first because sometimes they have good things to say. They just don’t – they choose not to say them for whatever reason in the meeting. So there’s some management outside the meetings that sometimes can help a great deal.

Elisabeth: Yeah.

Tracy: I got another one for you, Elisabeth. This is from Barbara. And she asks, “How should one handle what I call role creep, someone moving into someone else’s responsibility?”

Elisabeth: I guess there are two parts to this because one is, you’ve got the creeper. So something is causing them to take on the role of another. And then you’ve also got the person whose role is being taken over and they are on some level allowing that, and why is that happening.

So again, I would come back to – and I don’t know if it’s a team role or a meeting role. I’m suspecting it’s a team role. I’ve seen teams where there’s a team lead and it’s clear that team lead is reticent and somebody else is filling the void. So this might be a case of someone filling the void.

But either way, I would address it and this can be as Tracy said, you can do this overt ways or you can do this in less overt ways. You could a one-on-one conversation with each of these people. Ask the person who is taking on the role – first, talk with the person whose role is being taken and ask them how is the project going for you, how do you feel about your role. Give them a chance to explain.

Either this is – they consider this a problem and here’s why it’s happening and here’s what they think should happen or they might say, “You know what? This actually is a better setup for me. They might make the better team lead and I’m actually going to be happier if I’m a subject matter expert.” Maybe there’s time to switch the team role. It doesn’t happen very often but this might be a time for it.

And then once you talked with that person, ask the other person. Once you know that – if the other person is OK with it, you may present them with, “Hey, would you like to formally take on this role. You’ve seem to be taking it on informally. Should we talk about formally what you want to do with it?”

So I think once again, having that conversation, making that a public or at least to them, acknowledge what’s going on.

Tracy: I think we have time for one more question, Elisabeth. It’s coming up on the hour. So this comes from, I believe her name or his name is Nafula, “I had a team that met with a solution. It was difficult to get them to go through the process of improvement. How do you handle this?” That’s a good one.

Elisabeth: So clarify for me. They met with a solution?

Tracy: So it sounds to me like people that come in and they’re trying to do process improvement but at the first meeting, they know what the solution is.

Elisabeth: OK, good. So for that one, I have a technique called a Solution Parking Lot. And when people have ideas, Jump-to-Solution Jerry, it’s great. Thank you for the ideas. Love your enthusiasm. Love that you thought about this. Love that this might be a great idea. But we just started this team. So let’s park it. Let’s keep a good running list of all these fabulous solution ideas because those are going to be critical at some point and those are going to inform us. And some of them may fall by the wayside. We went a different direction with analysis. That’s not really the thing we need to solve. Or, hey, that’s exactly what we needed so let’s use it.

So Solution Parking Lot is my suggestion on that one, Tracy. And I think we have run out of time.

Tracy: Yes. So thank you so much for joining today’s webinar. We hope you enjoyed your time with us and we hope that you have found this webinar very helpful. I found it helpful, Elisabeth. Thank you very much.

Please share your feedback with us by completing the survey presented when the webinar ends. We use your feedback to design additional webinars and we really like to hear your feedback. It’s kind of like the Pluses and Deltas.

So thank you, everyone. And from the whole team, thank you for joining us. And have a great day or night.

Elisabeth: Bye-bye.

Tracy: Bye-bye.

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Elisabeth Swan

Elisabeth is a Managing Partner at For over 25 years, she's helped leading organizations like Amazon, Charles Schwab and Starwood Hotels & Resorts build problem-solving muscles with Lean Six Sigma to achieve their goals.