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Are your Lean Six Sigma training efforts stale? Does your training approach need a facelift? Are you interested in changing your training approach to ensure students have better recall and retention of the material? Do you want to increase your rate of real world application and get better process improvement results? Then this 1-hour Leadership webinar is for you. We’ll provide the method and helpful examples of “Flipped Classrooms” so you can flip your own training and reap the rewards.

Webinar Level

  • Leadership


In this 1-hour Leadership webinar, we will cover:

  • Traditional conventional classroom approach
  • The new “Flipped Classroom” approach
  • Why it works and why it’s better
  • Flipped Classroom agendas
  • How to support real world application
  • Getting Started


Tracy O’Rourke, Managing Partner

Tracy is a Managing Partner at She is also a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Instructor at UC 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.

Webinar Transcript

Elisabeth Swan: Welcome to another webinar. We’re so happy to have you join us today. This webinar series is for you, our learner community.

Lean and Six Sigma are the worldwide go-to improvement methods and these webinars are part of our efforts to make it easy for you to use those tools and concepts.

My name is Elisabeth Swan. I’ll be your moderator. Today’s webinar is How to Flip the Conventional Lean Six Sigma Classroom Approach and Get Better Results.

And our presenter today is Tracy O’Rourke. Hey, Tracy.

Tracy O’Rourke: Hey, Elisabeth.

About Our Presenter

Elisabeth Swan: Tracy is Managing Partner and Executive Adviser here at A little background on Tracy, she is a co-host of the Just-In-Time Café Podcast, glad to have her. She teaches Lean Six Sigma at both UC San Diego and UCSD. She is a long-time Lean Six Sigma Consultant and a Master Black Belt. And aside from 20 years in the business, Tracy speaks at Lean Six Sigma conferences around the country.

Tracy lives in San Diego, California with her husband and two sons. Welcome, Tracy.

Tracy O’Rourke: Thank you. Happy to be here.

How to Interact

Elisabeth Swan: During the presentation, you will all be in listen-only mode. There will be a question and answer session following the presentation but feel free to ask questions anytime by entering them into the question. We’ll also ask you to participate in some polls.

If we don’t answer all your questions during the webinar, we’ll definitely post answers after the webinar. You’ll be able to see answers to all the questions and you’ll be able to download this webinar once it’s posted. So yes, downloads are going to be available.

Where Are You From?

So our first interactive poll session is to find out where you are from. We have hundreds of attendees today. People are joining us from all over the world on this webinar. We’d like to find out from where. So please click on questions and type in where you’re from. I’m guessing some of you are up kind of early and some of you are up kind of late. So let’s take a look at where people are from.

We’ve got Cathy. We’ve got – let’s see. Who do we got? Jeremy from Montreal. We got Laura in Reno. Venyek in India. Welcome. We’ve got Eric in Melbourne, Florida. Lynne in Arizona. Hello, Lynne.

Tracy O’Rourke: Hi, Lynne.

Elisabeth Swan: We’ve got Manuji in the UK. Connie is in Arkansas. Stacey, St. Louis. We’ve got people from Texas, Canada, Australia, Raj in Australia. We’ve got Nottingham, England. Hello, Carl. And hello from Romania. Hello back, Marian. And Jamaica, Shanika in Jamaica. Wow! We’ve got a great spread here. Thank you for joining everybody.

This is an impressive audience. Over to you, Tracy.

Tracy O’Rourke: Thanks. Welcome everybody. I’m glad to hear we’ve got people all over the world with our webinar today.

Who Is

And I just want to talk a little bit about who is. So hopefully, you’ve been to our website already. Our goal, our mantra is to make it easy for everyone everywhere to build their problem-solving muscles. We want to try to make it as easy and as practical as possible and enjoyable because it can be fun.

And our core beliefs are that we think complex concepts just make it confusing for people. We want effective training that is practical, accessible, and fun. And that really is our mission that we hope that you’re already feeling it by participating in some of our webinars as well as going through our training.

We’ve Helped People From…

Here are a few people that actually like our training approach and these are as you can see, there’s brick and mortar, there’s online, there’s manufacturing, there’s service and transactional organizations. We have public and private sector clients, all kinds of industries including government, nonprofit, as well as education.

And why is there is so many? We’ve got a pretty – thousands of clients and it’s because organizations have lots of problems to solve and they never run out of problems to solve and they really need people with problem-solving muscles that are versed in this kind of stuff. And it’s easy to access as well.

Today’s Agenda

We’re going to talk a little bit about today’s agenda. And this is a very special agenda. It’s very much geared towards maybe looking at revamping your training approach so it’s very different than just a tool’s course and it really hopefully will help you figure out a more effective training program if that’s what you’re looking for.

So what we’re going to be really talking about today is the traditional classroom approach, a flipped classroom approach and what that means, why it works and why it’s better, and how to flip a Lean Six Sigma classroom?

So it’s great conceptually but again, we’re hoping to at least share with you some of the things that we’ve been doing to flip the Lean Six Sigma classroom and make students more successful with practical application.

We’ll also going to share with you some of these Lean Six Sigma specific agendas for a flipped classroom as well.

Traditional Classroom

So first of all, let’s talk about what the traditional classroom is and I’m not going to spend a lot of time here. Traditional classroom is really, you go to class, you get a lecture, and they cover material. The instructor covers the material and then you have homework assignments. And you kind of have to figure out what to do with your homework. You have to figure out how to apply it. You got to do these examples or these activities on your own. And sometimes that can be very frustrating for people.

You got to do these examples or these activities on your own. And sometimes that can be very frustrating for people.

What Is a Flipped Classroom?

And so, this concept of a flipped classroom is a little different. And how that is different is it reverses where traditional lecture and homework take place. So with a flipped classroom, you have lecture and training modules or videos that you’re looking at or blogs that you’re reading all done at home, online modules of some kind. And then you go to class to practice. So you’re doing application to real problems and practice activities during class time.

So with a flipped classroom, you have lecture and training modules or videos that you’re looking at or blogs that you’re reading all done at home, online modules of some kind. And then you go to class to practice.

So that is what they mean by flipping the classroom. You really are saying, do all of this stuff at home instead, self-directed, but you’re coming to class to really do the application with your peers and with an instructor there so that you’re more successful with that application.

A lot of times, for organizations training employees on Lean Six Sigma, what that looks like is that you have an in-class instructor that would be a Master Black Belt or a coach and that would be in class and they would be helping with activities, help facilitate activities related to practical application of the concepts and tools that you learned.

And then often, there’s some project-based work in small groups with other learners. And then you have that facilitator that’s helping the students apply those concepts. There’s a lot. I actually do find that there are a lot of classrooms today that are Lean Six Sigma Green Belt courses that require a project but not all. Surprisingly, there are still lots of different organizations that don’t require a project. And so ultimately, that can help a lot with the learning.

Poll #1

So we have a poll for you. It’s just really – now, that we’ve briefly explained what a flipped classroom is, just want to get an idea of what your experience has been with flipped classrooms. So here are some of your choices that you’ve never heard of it or you have heard about it. You are a student in the flipped classroom or you have designed a flipped classroom. So I’m going to go ahead and launch the poll and go ahead and tell us what your experience has been.

Elisabeth Swan: Tracy, I have an interesting anecdote on this one. I have a long-time client, Exela. Actually, they used to be called Novitek. It’s Exela now. They started – we started completely with lecture – not complete lecture. We did some workshops in the classroom and then they’ve been certifying Green Belts, certifying Black Belts and as online material, as we made it available, I started pulling them into using the online.

And the biggest difference, I mean it all was really helpful because first it was coaching and on-site sessions but the biggest difference was Black Belt training because people really learned hypothesis testing and high-level stats at very different levels. So that was the biggest aha. That class, people were really out of sync in terms of who was getting it and where everybody was in the class. But once they could do it online at their pace, everybody tracked then we could get together to do the applications. That was a huge difference.

Tracy O’Rourke: Very nice. Thank you for sharing. OK. The poll is done so we’re going to go ahead and close it and share it. So what do we got, Elisabeth?

Elisabeth Swan: You’ve got the vast majority have never heard of this, 62%. Next up, 18% had heard about it, and 12% have designed it which is interesting. Maybe we can hear from them later on. And then 8% have been students in a flipped classroom.

Tracy O’Rourke: Good. Thank you. OK. So I think – what was interesting is I actually heard about a flipped classroom the very first time from my son’s fourth grade teacher. And they were doing a flipped classroom and my son loved it. And he did really well in that class. And so, he was in elementary school obviously at the time. And it was very successful so the teacher had a lot of pre-recorded modules and they would review the modules and then they do the application in the class. So I think it was interesting that that’s the first time that I was introduced to it.

Why Flip?

So why flip? So again, you don’t have to do a flipped classroom environment. It’s not required. But I think if you’re looking to create a new training program from scratch, a Lean Six Sigma training program, hopefully after this webinar, you will consider where a flipped classroom approach might be helpful for you and that you might want to try it.

If you have an existing training program because there are thousands of companies out there currently doing Lean Six Sigma training of some kind. They’ve got operational excellence or data analyst, whatever you want to call it, they’re actually – they’ve got a program in place.

You may want to consider revamping your training program. But there are few questions you want to ponder. So first of all, what are your current results like? Is your organization satisfied with the current results from employees that ever seek training? Are the students satisfied with the training and their effectiveness afterwards? Are your training efforts stale? Are people feeling like it’s a pain to go to class?

Are your training efforts stale? Are people feeling like it’s a pain to go to class?

We don’t want that. It could be fun. That’s what kills me the most is I love this job. I love process improvement and I just – it’s’ so sad to me when you go into an organization and people are like, “Ooh …”

So, maybe you need a facelift. Maybe you need to look at your approach and do something a little different to inject a little energy into.

So I would say maybe you need to perform a little PDCA, plan, do, check, adjust cycle on your overall Lean Six Sigma program because I’m not saying jump to the solution. The real cause actually might not be the training approach. You might have a cultural issue or you might have something that you need to do differently with the leaders, and that would be an entirely different webinar. But if you’ve determined that one of the root causes is the training effectiveness then maybe you do consider revamping the training approach.

So ultimately, you might be wanting to have better recall and retention for your students. You might want to increase your rate of real world application and get better process improvement results. These are all things that potentially why you might want to flip the classroom.

So, where do Green Belts really struggle? Is it during the classroom lecture? Well, maybe if it’s a boring class. Or is it with the concepts, understanding these concepts? I find people and students are not struggling with the concept.

Where Students Struggle

Where I see people struggle is once they get out of the classroom with process improvement, they struggle with how they’re applying this concept in the real world. They don’t understand how that tool or that technique or this DMAIC method will apply in the real world. They struggle.

And so unfortunately, traditional classroom training puts the onus on the student to make that connection. But with a flipped classroom, what’s happening is the student gets the support from the instructor or the Master Black Belt while trying to make that connection in the classroom. So that can be a huge improvement to making those concepts stick, to having better retention and better recall of these concepts.

The likelihood of real world application is going to be better in a flipped classroom because that connection has been made. So that is the challenge for students.

The Challenge: Allocating Resources

But what’s the challenge for organizations? So that’s the other issue that we’re running into. So the challenge with organizations that we see is there’s limited full-time internal resources. So how do you allocate them properly and most effectively?

What I’m seeing as a trend and I don’t know if you’re seeing this too, Elisabeth, is that I’m seeing that there are less full-time internal resources in organizations. And sometimes it’s a part-time job to be a Green Belt or to be a Black Belt even.

How do you allocate those very precious limited resources? Well, unfortunately, the most common approach is to have these internal resources train. So they’re spending a heavy amount of time facilitating classroom style training. And what does that mean? Well, as a result, there isn’t enough time spent supporting employees with the real world application.

And so, they aren’t making that connection like we talked about. And there is not enough time being spent with already trained Green Belts. So that’s the other gap I’m seeing too is people go through Green Belt training and all these internal resources are geared towards training these new people but guess what? Now, you’ve got a cadre of Green Belts and they’re not doing anything with their skills because they’re not encouraged, they don’t have the support for whatever reason, or their leaders aren’t asking them about it either.

So that’s the other place that often there’s a gap is there isn’t enough time spent with training leaders as coaches too. So because all of the resources are being sucked into training, they’re not able to do these other very important things to make sure the program is successful.

So if you’ve got an online curriculum, that can help free up internal resources and then you can help practicing Green Belts apply those things in the real world. So that’s really important. And this approach can be a win-win for the organization, the learner, and the instructor. So I’m going to go back to the learner.

Learner Benefits to a Flipped Classroom

So what are some of the things that are benefiting the learner? Here’s a list of things that can help a learner in a flipped classroom. And I think the most common one we hear is the first one. “I can go through these modules at my own pace.”

Everybody learns a little different. Some people are very quick on the uptake. And other people, they want to take their time. They need to actually repeat the module. They want to hear it again. They run into something that they don’t quite understand and now, they can go back and review the material on their own. So, the learner really likes that accessibility and that they can plan their own pace through the material.

Everybody learns a little different. Some people are very quick on the uptake. And other people, they want to take their time.

It’s also accessible. The material is available beyond the classroom anytime or anywhere. If they want to get up at 2 in the morning because their 4-month-old woke them up or their dog, I don’t know, they actually can access the material if they really feel like it or on the weekends. So that’s really, really nice to have that flexibility as a learner or a student.

Also, what we’re finding is learners feel more supported because they got almost customized instructor assistance with applying these concepts. Now, that you’ve gone through the concepts and you really say, “Well, how does the FMEA apply to my project or to my world?” Then the teacher or the instructor can really help you with that.

So these are all things that benefit the learner. And what student doesn’t want less lecture and more interaction during class time? So, you can’t have enough of that sometimes. So ultimately, I don’t think I’ve had a learner say, “I want more lecture.” So we’re really feeding into what they really want and what is helping engaged them.

And finally, project work is completed in class. So it could be very productive. So again, they learn the concepts at home on their own time, at their own pace, and then they come in to class and they can actually think about the project work. So typically with a flipped classroom, they get the support that they need to actually do something with the learning. And that’s a really important piece of making a difference in terms of how they’re going to apply it.

So again, they learn the concepts at home on their own time, at their own pace, and then they come in to class and they can actually think about the project work.

Instructor Benefits

So what about the instructor? How does this benefit the instructor? Flipped classroom, you know what? A lot of instructors are going to look at this and go, “That’s too much work. That means I actually have to think when I’m facilitating a class.” And that is true. I mean guess what? You’re up there, you’re releasing control as an instructor and you’re letting the students take you where they want. And that could be very scary for instructors.

But that’s also the reason why it’s so engaging. I have to say, my biggest reward when I instruct students is seeing what Green Belt students do to apply these concepts to project results. It is extremely rewarding.

So we have a government client, King County, they are doing the flipped classroom. They have online training and they are doing modules and they are doing videos and they read blogs and they review some of our webinars then they actually – I met with them. And right now how it works is I’m meeting with them one time a month per phase. So if they’re in define, we do – they finish all their material and then I come in and we do a define phase group session. This is our second cohort.

And their first cohort, their projects were astounding. They had two people, they shared a project. They reduced travel expense reimbursement time by 94%. They took a process. It was a procurement process and they improved the lead time by 54%.

We had one gentleman that made it easier for veterans to be a supplier for King County by cutting down the steps. They were amazing.

And to me, it’s exciting. It’s rewarding. I’m proud of these Green Belts. And guess what? These Green Belts want to do more projects. They actually – I go, “Well, have you seen any other opportunities for more Green Belt projects?” They’re like, “Oh my gosh! I have a list over at my cubicle of things that I feel like I could work on next.”

And so, that’s the kind of thing we want. We don’t want people to feel like they’re just going through the training, checking the box, checking the box on a project for certification and never looking back and never thinking about process improvement again. We don’t want that. And guess what? This particular client, they’ve got one internal full-time support person for almost 300 employees. She can’t train all these people and be available to support them with projects so she can’t do it all.

We don’t want people to feel like they’re just going through the training, checking the box, checking the box on a project for certification and never looking back and never thinking about process improvement again.

And the flipped classroom approach really helps maximize where she is spending her time. She doesn’t want to spend time in a classroom with the old lecture style format either. That could be really helpful in terms of creating a little bit more freedom to actually work with people to apply this stuff.

Question to Answer in Chat

So I have another question. So this is not a poll. This is – I want you to think about this question and you can go ahead and pull up the question window and just type in some responses. So I’m curious to know. For your organization, if you have full-time Lean Six Sigma resources, how are they allocated? Are they conducting training for employees most of the time? Are they facilitating things like rapid improvement events or Kaizen? Are they doing any coaching of individuals or coaching of teams through projects or you’re not sure what they’re doing because you don’t know where they are?

So go ahead and take a moment and type in where are your Lean Six Sigma resources spending their time. Maybe it’s all of them. I just want to hear what some of the responses are.

Elisabeth, what are your thoughts about this?

Elisabeth Swan: Well, I’ve just got one from Eric and he’s saying that people are conducting rapid improvement events and that’s also what Laura is reporting that people are doing rapid improvements, which is actually a great application, a great thing facilitating.

Tracy O’Rourke: I agree. I think helping people have rapid improvement events and Kaizen is a great way to leverage full time resources for Lean Six Sigma. Great.

Elisabeth Swan: Another one, let’s see. Marian said mostly other. They are called lean resources and they are really doing coaching and some facilitating and other activities. Also, good use of people.

Jean says, “Myself as a process engineer, I do it all.” Good for you, Jean. “My own Black Belt training.” She is training Green and Yellow Belts and she has small projects with co-ops. So she has got a lot on her plate.

Tracy O’Rourke: Yes.

Elisabeth Swan: Let’s see. Christopher said, “An hour long training once a week per shift,” which sounds targeted.

Tracy O’Rourke: Yup.

Elisabeth Swan: And I like the drumbeat aspect of that. That keeps it top of mind, right? You got one lean person to do it all again. Other, “We don’t have full time Lean Six Sigma resource yet.” That’s Lily.

Glenn says, “One guy was doing all three and he left the organization because he was very demanding to juggle all those. I bet he was.

Tracy O’Rourke: I know. I feel sorry for him.

Elisabeth Swan: Yeah. Liz says, “We do the improvement at the start of projects to ensure that they’re not just implementing but actually improving upon the process.” So they’re sort of watching to make sure the implementations are effective.

Ismael is the Black Belt for a company of 500 and does A, B, and C. Wow! Another person with a lot on their plate.

Eric saying, “We have multiple Green Belts around the office. Many managers don’t use them for that though. Only a small group of us are actually doing most of the effort.” That’s unfortunate. It seems like you have resources. It would be great to see them better used.

For Erin, “This is all new including terms like Green Belt, Black Belt, and Kaizen.” She says, “Our organization doesn’t have any Lean Six Sigma resources.” So they’re starting from an earlier state.

“All A, B, and C at Washington Department of Transportation and we’re trying to make A more effective.” This is Sam from Department of Transportation. That’s great.

Tracy O’Rourke: In Washington?

Elisabeth Swan: Yeah.

Tracy O’Rourke: That’s a lot in there.

Elisabeth Swan: That’s right. That’s right. Huila also not – doesn’t have Lean Six Sigma resources yet. Lana said they’re doing A, B, and C. So you got quite a spread. A lot of them doing everything.

Tracy O’Rourke: Yes. So I’m hearing a pattern and a theme. And some of that theme is we’re doing it all and we don’t have a lot of people. So that’s scary to me because that could be burnout. So I have a quick story about that.

So, I was working with an organization. It was actually a county. And they have 8 lean consultants, 35 agencies they are supporting, 14,000 employees. And not a clear idea of what they should be doing specifically, what they were tasked to do. So there are a lot of different lean consultants doing different things for different agencies. And it’s not their fault. And they got burnt out. And every single one of them left except for one, who I think is still there.

And it was just unfortunate to watch because they were just tapped. So this kind of thing with the flipped classroom, because they were doing a lot of training, and this could have helped them get a little bit – their arms a little bit more around what they were tasked to do because it would free them up to maybe do some more work on some of these rapid improvement events as some of you have said or coaching of the teams. But not feeling like they also have the onus and training all the employees too.

And that could be very, in terms of logistics and scheduling rooms and scheduling dates, those kinds of things. So there’s a lot obviously that goes behind scheduling and conducting training on site in-person for employees.

Thank you for that. I really appreciate you guys giving us some insight into what’s happening in your organizations.

Flipped Agenda Options

So we’re going to talk a little bit about some ideas for flipped agendas. So if you are actually going to think about what you could do, I think doing training at least is predictable, right? Unfortunately, I have seen people want to hang on to doing the training because they know that and they’re comfortable with that and it’s predictable. And so, this is really sort of upsetting the apple cart if you will, flipping the apple cart for – if you want to add a pun in there.

But these are just some of the things you could do to give people an idea. And I think once the flipped agenda and the flipped classroom is set up, it could actually be easier and simpler for the instructors once they get through the task of actually designing a program.

But obviously, the first part of that is the at-home work. So designing online modules, creating them, videos, blogs. Obviously, has online training modules for White Belt, Yellow Belt, Green Belt, Black Belt and we actually do serve in that role for many of our clients. We are the online modules that they are using so they don’t have to create them all.

So there is an assignment of some kind for these online modules. People insert their own videos, their own blogs. Sometimes they use our blogs and our success stories, whatever it is. But you’re designing a program that they can go through.

And then you can couple it with any of the following. You could do in-class application and discussion. You could do instructor-led group coaching for a project or for activities. You could do projects.

So some organizations just bring them and say, “We’re going to talk about your projects.” And so, they are very clear on what assignments to do so that we can talk about some of those things from an instructor perspective.

And then finally, site visits and tours. So this is actually something people don’t necessarily think about doing. But having – going on a tour, and this doesn’t have to be another organization. It could be just another area of your company, another area that’s doing really well with something with a visual board or a waste walk or anything like that. And you’re going to go over there and take a look at their visual boards as part of the group interaction discussion.

Maybe you’re going to actually do a process waste walk. You’re going to say, “OK, we’re going to do a waste walk and this group volunteered to have us walk their area so that we could help us look at waste.” So you can really make it interactive.

You’re going to say, “OK, we’re going to do a waste walk and this group volunteered to have us walk their area so that we could help us look at waste.” So you can really make it interactive.

So as Elisabeth said, I do teach at San Diego State University and we actually for the value stream mapping portion, we have people, organizations host at their facility. So we’ve had folks like Taylor Guitars, TaylorMade Golf. We’ve had – this semester, it’s going to be Feeding San Diego, which is a nonprofit and they host. And so, our whole class goes there for two whole days. We talk about value stream mapping and then they map these organizations value streams for them. So it’s a win-win for them.

So that’s a great learning environment. People love it. The students love it. And then the host actually gets free work from these classrooms. They get value streams and they didn’t have to pay for it.

So, that can work really great in terms of building interest, engagement, and a larger and broader community. So those are really things to think about including as part of your flipped agenda.

Seattle, in Seattle, Washington, I just had the pleasure of going to. They had a community event. It was lean. And I could not believe the different organizations that were attending. So we had people from King County government, Nordstrom, Costco, Microsoft, Amazon, a company called Fastcap which is where Paul Akers is the president, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation were there.

So, all these organizations implementing process excellence and process improvement and we got to hear about some of the things that they are doing. So they shared success stories. They shared challenges. They brainstormed ideas of what they could do differently to promote process improvement. And it was awesome.

So these are the kinds of things that rather than having the traditional lecture, you’re now freed up to start being creative with some of the things that you want to offer your employees in terms of what they could do with the flipped agenda.

Example: Flipped Classroom Agenda

So let’s talk a little bit more about the detailed agendas for a flipped classroom just to give you an idea of what that would look like. So this is actually an agenda that we did with one of our clients. And this is the pre-work and then the in-class.

So at a high level, the pre-work is basically they have to complete the online material. They do get to watch some videos specific to the define phase. And then we’ve got blogs that they would read. And some of these are optional. So there are a couple of webinars that people wanted to definitely make as part of the training, and so those are mandatory and then there were other ones that were optional.

And then they sometimes would have an assignment for in-class discussion. So sometimes they would just prepare and then would bring it to class.

For the in-class agenda with an instructor that taught – whatever their assignment was, we would cover. Also, there would be some sort of discussion topic. It would be on one of the videos that they viewed or one of the blogs that they read. And then there was an activity for problem and goal statements and then the other activity that they now have to write a problem and goal statement for their Green Belt project.

So that’s at a high level what the agenda would look like. So now, let’s give you more detail into the pre-work and the in-class for each of these.

Define Phase Self-Directed Assignments

So for the Define Phase, this is actually what it looks like. So they would actually do the modules for the introduction in the define phase module. It’s about 7 hours of online training. And then these are some of the videos that they will be assigned to view for Define. And these are all on YouTube.

So Meals Per Hour is a great introduction video as an example. We cover process walks in our material. So we wanted to give them an idea of what a process walk is and what it looks like in real action.

And then also looked at a pre-approval for a travel process. So that was actual process walk that was recorded. And then the students in the class would view all these things prior to coming to the in-class session.

And then their assignment was that they had to attempt for a project selection tool for their project. That is some of the assignment that they would be bringing to class.

And guess what? If they finish it, great. If they did it and they felt like they needed more help doing that, that was an option too. So if they send it in advanced, great because then we can sometimes use it as a learning for others. But again, that’s where people sometimes need help.

Agenda for Define Phase Group Coaching Session

So then we have the agenda for the actual group coaching session. So this is the instructor-led portion. And this is what it looks like from a facilitation perspective. So you’ve got an opening exercise of some kind. It could be an icebreaker. It could be a game, whatever it is that you want. Then the goal would be to cover any questions and answers related specifically to the material.

And then you’ve got three activities here that were part of the agenda, the exercise, the problem and goal statements exercise. And this might have been an assignment that they had to do before or it could be the project selection tool that they had to do before and now we’re going to review it.

And then there are some interactive discussions about ideas for projects. And then they actually have to complete a goal statement and a problem statement for their Green Belt projects. And then we would talk about next steps for learners.

So that’s an example of what a high level session might look like. It could be anywhere from 2 to 4 hours, depending on how much time you’re going to have and how many people are in the class. That’s a big one. And also, how many projects you’re doing.

So often, what I find is it’s – if I got 20 people in a group coaching session, that’s a lot of people if they’ve got their own projects because now you’re looking at 20 people and 20 projects. It’s much easier though if some of those people are sharing a project.

So if you had let’s say 20 people but about 7 projects for all of them, that’s much more manageable and it actually encourages more dialog and group discussion because when you say, “OK, apply this to your project in class,” they can work together as a group instead of individually. So that’s always a great way to get peers to build some connections and to improve learning as well.

Opening Exercise Example

So here’s an example of an opening exercise. So let’s say you’re going to have 5 group sessions, 5 group coaching sessions, one for each phase define, measure, analyze, improve, and control is typically how most of the material in Lean Six Sigma is organized. And you might have for every group session, you might have an opening exercise.

And this is an example of an exercise that you might do. So this is actually from the material or whatever the online material it is that you have and this is the discussion topic. And so, this is something that they might start with.

So what you’re doing is you’re solidifying the learning that they went through in the course, you’re showing them visual to help remind them that you saw this in the training and then you’re asking them to come up with an example and using some of the concepts that they learned. And you could do it in groups or you could have them individually state their examples.

And so it’s great because it creates that dialog. It creates them applying some of these exercises to real life. This is just a very simple example of what an opening exercise might look like, a discussion topic of some kind.

Activity Example

Then you might have an activity example in your facilitated session. So this is an example of a problem and goal statements. So in our online material,’s online material, we take them through problem and goal statements but this is actually a different one.

So this is, OK, now that you’ve gone through this whole exercise and this online learning, now let’s see what you think about this problem and goal statement. Here is a problem and a goal statement. Tell us what’s wrong with it. What would you do differently?

So now, it’s really about them assessing what they see in front of them and saying, “Why does this not work? How could this be better? What are some of the pluses about this activity or these problem statements and goal statements? And then what would be some of the things that you’d recommend changing because it doesn’t seem right?”

And so then it’s really up to them to either work in groups in the session, the group session, and come up with a list of pluses and deltas, things that are – that look good and things that could be improved. And now, they’re really working through their assessment of problem and goal statements. So they’re just not writing them, they’re looking at them.

And so then it’s really up to them to either work in groups in the session, the group session, and come up with a list of pluses and deltas, things that are – that look good and things that could be improved.

And I always encourage Green Belts to be a good Green Belt peer. So we’re all learning together and part of that learning means that you’re looking at other people and what they’re doing and you’re also providing feedback on what you see is missing. And that builds great skill. And so, doing this in a group review environment is really promoting that too.

Project Based Application Example

And then finally, you can also do project-based applications in the group sessions with a live instructor. So ideally – I mean you could have exercises every time you meet related to their projects because you really want them to move forward on their projects. And what is great about this approach is once they’ve completed the training, they are pretty much – pretty close to completing a project, which is great because you really want them to see how this applies. You want them to be productive. You want them to be successful.

And so, this might be an example of one exercise in one of the group sessions that you have where they write a problem and goal statement for their Green Belt project and share them in groups. And then they also get experience and providing feedback in a good format, pluses and deltas to their peers, which is also helpful because you want them to replicate that behavior when they get into the real world too.

Learn by Doing Activities

So here is just a couple of examples of learn by doing activities for the classroom portion. So you could do – these are just ideas for exercises that could be done every time you do a group – a live instructor-led group session. You could do problem and goal statement exercise. You can have them build a SIPOC on their projects. If someone has a great data collection plan that they did for their project, maybe you have them share it. Also, you can talk about Paretos and histograms. You can look at a couple of graphs and see what people like, does that look good, does it look right?

So again, you’re helping them really look at – learn the concept and now apply it. Does this look right? What’s wrong with it? What could be better about this? And so, those are all things that they’re doing in the Learn by Doing Activities. And also, building it. So building a histogram, building Paretos, building a Fishbone. These are just examples by phase of things you could do that are very – that could be standard.

What’s Next After Completing Training?

So after they go through training, what’s next? So that is actually a whole another webinar that we’ve already recorded for you. So – and I actually see this as a huge gap. This is one of the biggest mistakes that I see is organizations train their people in Green Belt and they sometimes require that they do a project for certification and then that’s it. And so, I strongly encourage every organization that if you are training Green Belts, they should complete a minimum of two projects a year every year after that.

So that’s the return part of the ROI, the return on investment. So you just spent a good amount of time training them and probably a good amount of money training them. And so ultimately, they want to leverage their skills. And so, Green Belts, again, they should be able to complete two projects a year. That’s one every six months, and that is not hard. And if they are excited about it and they really like it, they’re not going to have problems finding Green Belt projects.

Internal Resources

So here’s the other is, what does the internal resources do now that they’re not facilitating training? There are so many things you could do. You just have to really explore what you want to do. How do you – you could be very strategic about what internal resource should do.

And based on the poll and the question that you guys answered, there’s plenty for these people to do. They need less to do actually because they’re doing it all. But you could be working more with Green Belts on their projects. You could be helping build more peer Green Belt coaches where you’re just – it just becomes a part of what Green Belts do is providing feedback to other Green Belts from a peer perspective.

Another big gap I see is leaders aren’t getting enough coaching for Green Belts. So they’re happy to have a Green Belt but they’re not really sure sometimes what to do with them and how to ask them what they’re working on and how to help them pick a project, those kinds of things. You can help get more project results. You can help celebrate more success.

Another big gap I see is leaders aren’t getting enough coaching for Green Belts.

So again, it’s just becoming – people feeling like this is a slag. If process improvement is feeling like it’s a slag for people, they’re not going to want to do it. You become annoying to them. And so, how do you make it more fun?

And I have seen some really cool stuff that organizations do to help create energy, celebrate success, make it fun and educational, creating lean tours. I’ve had organizations have what they call A3 fairs like a tradeshow and every time table, there’s a different Green Belt project and they do a 5-minute presentation on their Green Belt projects.

UC San Diego asked me to emcee something called a Process Palooza. And it was basically a competition. We had two business owners donate a process to be worked on that they would find and say, “Hey, I admit this process has problems. Anything any of these teams can do to make it better, we be open to it.”

And so, they basically had a competition and there were three teams for each process, so a total of six teams because there were two processes that were donated. And they basically went through DMAIC and then they came up with recommendations for the business owner. And it was a one day event. It was super fun and a lot of energy and people loved it.

Now, they are doing one this year. It would be our second annual Process Palooza at UC San Diego. And we actually have a video on our website if you’re interested in seeing what that looks like on

Not a shortage of anything that internal resources could do. So don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid to give up your training because there are plenty of things you could do that might be even more fun and you’re going to get better results.

Today We Covered

So that brings us to the end of our webinar today and we covered what a traditional classroom or approach looks like, what the flipped classroom or approach looks like, why it works and why it’s better, how you can flip a Lean Six Sigma classroom, and some Lean Six Sigma agendas for flipped classrooms. So I hope you found this valuable. I hope that if anything, I’ve piqued your interest in maybe exploring this type of approach.


We’re going to go to questions now. So if you have a question for me, go ahead and type it in the question window and Elisabeth will help me fill those. And in the meantime, we’re going to cover a couple of things.

Getting Started

So if you want to, if you haven’t gone through – I think someone said they don’t even know what Lean Six Sigma was or they didn’t know what DMAIC was. Well, you would be a great candidate to get started on some training. And guess what? White Belt is absolutely free for you. So you could go through and figure out what the heck we were talking about with some of these things at the White Belt level and the Yellow Belt because that’s – the training is free for both of those. But you can also see we got Green Belt, Black Belt, and straight Lean as well in terms of courses.

Upcoming Webinar: March 20, 11am PT

And while we’re waiting for you to get your questions in, we’re going to cover a couple of things that are coming up. So our next webinar is coming up on March 20th and Elisabeth is going to be facilitating that and it’s introduction to DMAIC. Elisabeth, you want to share a little bit about what that is?

OK. So introduction to DMAIC, this is a beginner’s look at one of the most popular methods of process improvement. It also might be a good refresher for those who have been at it for a while. We’ll cover the basic structure of DMAIC. We’ll cover why it works. We’ll point out common missteps when people use DMAIC and we’ll provide some helpful tips and tricks. So watch for the invite and come join us if that is something you’re into.

Just-In-Time Café Podcast

Tracy O’Rourke: Very nice. Thank you. We also have our Just-In-Time Café Podcast where we interviewed Bob Zimering from Amazon. Tell us a little bit about this interview, Elisabeth.

Elisabeth Swan: This one was great. Bob is the Senior Manager of ACES, and that stands for Amazon Customer Excellence System, and that is their version of Lean Six Sigma. So Bob’s process improvement background was aerospace. He was 15 years in aerospace. So it’s fascinating to hear him and his take on what’s different in Amazon and how different it is but kind of great pros and cons background on what he’s doing now. I’d say bottom line, things are moving fast.

But it’s a great interview and the podcast has other great aspects. We review apps and books and stories that are in the news with Lean Six Sigma. So if you haven’t heard the podcast, please come and join us. It’s about a half hour of a good time and lots of background on Lean Six Sigma.

Tracy O’Rourke: Yeah. I have to say, my customer experience with Amazon has always been excellent. So they’re doing something right.

Elisabeth Swan: It’s so true.

Tracy O’Rourke: So we also have some success story webinars. And I will just say that these are basically successful projects that people have done. And again, these are some of my favorite things because these are people that have gone through training and they have actually made an impact in their organization.

Elisabeth, do you have anything you want to add to that?

Elisabeth Swan: Yeah. The latest one is from a local client of mine, Cape Cod Child Development. And the project lead was Angie Grabiec and she was trying to fix the supply ordering process. It was kind of ad hoc and it was costing then a lot of money. So she tried to put in place a new process.

And it’s a great story because she had to deal with resistance. People have been used to getting what they wanted when they wanted it. And she was restricting them and they initially fought back and kind of went around her. And then she let them know that the money they saved by some of the changes she had made allowed them to invest in an entirely new childcare center. They can afford a new mortgage. And that changed everyone’s opinion.

So it’s a great application of using purpose and clarifying purpose to get people on board. Obviously, you can do that more easily with a nonprofit. But in any case, in any project, it makes a difference so people understand why you’re doing something. So it’s a great example.


Tracy O’Rourke: Very nice. Thank you. OK. So let’s get to the questions and see if we’ve gotten any specific to this webinar.

Elisabeth Swan: So you’ve got a question from Christopher saying, “The idea that Green Belt should do two projects a year, does that mean we would lead the project, that means build out the charter, build the team lead or simply be part of the project?”

Tracy O’Rourke: That’s a great question, Chris. Thank you. So it kind of depends on what your organization is setting the expectation. So there are some organizations that only want Black Belts to lead projects. I actually believe that Green Belts have enough training to lead their own projects.

I also think it depends on what organizations allow for sharing. So there are some organizations that say, “No, I want every Green Belt to have their own projects.” I’m a big believer at the Green Belt level, shared projects are great because typically, they’re at the frontline and we want them to collaborate with their peers.

I’m a big believer at the Green Belt level, shared projects are great because typically, they’re at the frontline and we want them to collaborate with their peers.

And so, it could be that they’re a part of the team. It could be that they’re leading. It would be great if they did both, that they did one where they led it and then the one where they participated at least 20% of their time on another project.

So I hope that answers your question. But a lot of it, it depends on the expectation of the organization. And I did try to share some of my perspective on what I think organizations should do.

Elisabeth Swan: That’s your job, Tracy.

Tracy O’Rourke: Yeah.

Elisabeth Swan: Here’s one from Lyn. She wants to know, “Are there more sample agendas or pre-work on the website?”

Tracy O’Rourke: Well, we do have some examples of the pre-work and agendas. We’re in the process of updating it right now. So you’ll see some more. We’ve got basically sample agendas for each phase and those kinds of things to help people out because it can be challenging coming up with some of that stuff.

Elisabeth Swan: Yeah. Good question and good answer. Marian said, “I like the idea of teaming up industry with government and community. Any suggestions on how to initiate this locally?”

Tracy O’Rourke: Yes. So first of all, I would – if you’re into doing this, I can put in touch with some people in Seattle because I think they have done a phenomenal job of creating this. But I think some of it is going to local process improvement chapters.

Like for example, there are some AME groups that meet and typically, these are people that go that are cross-industry. They’re in government. They are in aerospace, biotech. Floating it to them because those are – because you’re going to need contacts in these different organizations. And so, if they buy into the vision that this is a good thing and they want to participate, it’s a great way to get started.

Another suggestion is I’m not really sure where you are in the United States but UC San Diego just recently put together lean tours and they actually ask organizations if they want to participate, lean organizations. So they are also trying to get in touch with their communities too. So, lots of things you could do there in terms of getting this cross-functional community building. Great question. And good luck. Send us a note if you want more.

Elisabeth Swan: It is a great question. It reminds me of the two professors we know that are teaching Lean Six Sigma in the classroom and then having their students go out to local hospital, local schools to do their projects because they can apply them internally. So that’s another nice example.

Tracy O’Rourke: Yes.

Elisabeth Swan: OK. You got Raj asking, with the flipped classroom, he is guessing it’s not ad hoc. It’s not a free fall. It would require preparation and you have to keep bringing the members back on track if they go off track. He is asking, “Is that right? Is it more designed and structured?”

Tracy O’Rourke: So I like to say freedom with structure. Probably more freedom than they are used to. I think the hardest job as a facilitator in doing these is asking questions, stopping the lecture. We tend to get comfortable as facilitation in lecture style and we really don’t want that in the group environment.

There is a lot of structure. I would recommend having a lot of structure of what you’re going to cover and creating what I call pre-planned questions to make sure that people stay on track with what they’re thinking is.

So for example, I might say something like, “OK, last week when you guys went through your online material, we covered data collections plans. How many of you have completed them? What challenges did you have? What was easy about that? What did you struggle with? Who wants to share what their challenge was?”

So these are all things that it’s all about questions and getting them to talk. And in that way, you really don’t know what they’re going to say. So – and if people go off on a tangent, I just say, “OK, we’re kind of off track. Let’s get back to the original idea that we were talking about.” So yes, I think it takes practice. And you have to be pretty comfortable with maneuvering that. And that is very different for some people. So thank you, Raj, for asking. So yes, very structured originally.

Elisabeth Swan: That reminds me of the statement, structure sets you free. So a little bit of structure and then you’ve got the freedom to work within it.

Tracy O’Rourke: Yes.

Elisabeth Swan: So Marian says, “Thank you for the ideas,” which is a great note to end on. Really helpful, Tracy. Great questions, everybody.

Tracy O’Rourke: Wonderful. Thank you. OK. Well, is that it? No more questions?

Elisabeth Swan: That’s it.

Thank You for Joining Us!

Tracy O’Rourke: All right. Cool. Well then, we will go ahead and say thank you very much for joining us. If you have any more questions, just contact us at [email protected] Don’t forget to go to our website for free resources like templates, infographics, success story webinars, podcasts. We got so much free stuff going on. You know what? We just want to build a problem-solving muscle everywhere.

Elisabeth Swan: So come and join us next month and we’ll do more of it.

Tracy O’Rourke: Yes. Thank you. Have a great day.

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Tracy O'Rourke

Tracy is a Managing Partner at, the co-author of The Problem-Solver’s Toolkit and co-host of the Just-in-Time Cafe. She is also a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Instructor at UC 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.

Elisabeth Swan

Elisabeth is a Managing Partner at, the co-author of The Problem-Solver’s Toolkit and co-host of the Just-in-Time Cafe. 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.