Online training can be very effective for learning especially with the flexibility to schedule self-directed work. However, when a group of employees are going through Lean Six Sigma training, how can a sense of community be maintained and how do we help keep learners on task? In this introductory webinar, we’ll discuss a Do-It-Yourself approach to coordinating a group of Lean Six Sigma learners in an organization and build a cohort of learners by having internal meetings, creating a schedule, homework, activities, and project discussion.
- Why group sessions enhance learning
- How to coordinate a group of Lean Six Sigma learners to complete online training
- Ground rules for group sessions to optimize student learning
- Activities for each group session to enhance the online learning
Tracy O’Rourke, Managing Partner
Tracy is a Managing Partner at GoLeanSixSigma.com. 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: Welcome to another one of GoLeanSixSigma.com’s webinars. We are happy to have you join us today. This webinar series has been created 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 the tools and concepts.
My name is Elisabeth Swan and I’ll be your moderator. Today’s webinar is How to Use Group Reviews to Ensure Your Group’s Green Belt Training is Successful.
Our Expert: Tracy
And our presenter as you can see on the screen is Tracy O’Rourke. Hello, Tracy.
Elisabeth: Hi. Tracy has been involved with Lean and Six Sigma process improvement for decades although you’d never know that. Tracy got her start with GE Appliances as a Black Belt in ‘98. After GE, became independent Lean Six Sigma consultant and has been consultant for over 15 years now. She helps diverse organizations and industries like health care, financial services, manufacturing, and state governments.
Tracy lives in San Diego, California with her husband and two sons, 9 and 13. She is a biker, a hiker, and she still occasionally plays Gaelic Football. And I bet most of you on this webinar do not know what Gaelic Football even is.
How to Interact
Before we begin, let’s review the GoToWebinar participant windows so you all know how to be interactive. You can ask question. You can type in where it says questions and you can do that throughout the webinar. We’ll also ask you to participate in some polls. Tracy is going to guide you on those. And the polls basically will appear when we want you to answer and then you can type questions anytime. Tracy will answer. I might answer or the team could answer you if it’s more about logistics.
And our first interactive poll is to find out where you’re from. We have hundreds of people on our webinar. Let’s see how early or late people are up to come to this webinar. So go ahead in the question and type in where you are from.
Tracy: This is one of my favorite parts, Elisabeth. And while we’re waiting, why don’t I say that Gaelic Football is the national sport of Ireland. So if you are Irish or from Ireland, you probably know what Gaelic Football is and if you’re not from Ireland, you might not know it unless you played before. Unfortunately, I can’t play this year because of an injury. So, I’m out this year.
Elisabeth: That’s good. We need to keep you healthy. OK. So we’ve got people. We got Michelle from Oklahoma. We’ve got Marcus in Tampa. We’ve got Melissa in Chicago. Joanna in Portugal. Thank you for joining us, Joanna. Clovis, New Mexico, that’s Crystal. Richard is in Cali. Steven is Wisconsin. We got Calgary. Anaheim, that’s Denise. Ottawa. Florida. The Philippines, Janine, thank you for calling. And Sir Rob from the Netherlands. Wow! So, a really nice spread here, Tracy. You’ve got lots of great folks.
Who Is GoLeanSixSigma.com?
Tracy: Wonderful. Well, thank you for that warm introduction, Elisabeth. I’m happy to be here with all of you. Thanks for joining GoLeanSixSigma.com’s webinar today.
So GoLeanSixSigma.com makes it easy for everyone everywhere to build their problem-solving muscles. That is our mission. We want to make it easy to understand practical and enjoyable for people when they do training. We believe that complex concepts just make it confusing for people and we really want to make sure that we transform how people learn about GoLeanSixSigma.com.
As a matter of fact, all of our training, our online training, is at the Bahama Bistro. So, isn’t that really a nice feeling to think about you’re getting trained in some sort of breezy, dreamy place like the Bahama Bistro.
We’ve Helped People From…
So, we really are proud of our approach to Lean Six Sigma or to training Lean and Six Sigma. And ultimately, a lot of the organizations do agree with us. This is just a list of some of our diverse organizations that have come to GoLeanSixSigma.com. Brick and mortar, online, there’s local and global companies and organization and there’s lots of diverse industries such as health care, financial services, manufacturing and state government.
Now, why is that? Because Lean and Six Sigma are problem-solving methodologies and organizations always have problems to solve. They never run out of problem-solving and they always need problem solvers. And so, many organizations need problem solvers because that is where there’s going to be a differentiator for their organization is in their people. And don’t we know that? People are people’s greatest asset.
So ultimately, what are we going to be talking about today? So ultimately, we are going to be talking about something to help you build your army of problem solvers in the most effective and efficient way as possible. As Elisabeth mentioned, our goal is to help you ensure that your team’s Green Belt Training is successful.
So we’re going to talk a little bit about why group sessions enhance learning, how to coordinate a group of Lean Six Sigma learners to complete online training as well as enhancing the experience of the training itself.
We’ll be talking about some of the ground rules during group sessions and some of the activities for each group session to enhance the online learning.
So first of all, who is a Green Belt? You’re going to learn this in online training and most of you probably know what a Green Belt is. But basically, a Green Belt is responsible for initiating Lean Six Sigma projects within their primary function. They typically work with a Black Belt. Most organizations have – most of their employees are Green Belts. So this is the meat and the potatoes of the training levels that most organizations have. And they are the really important group because they’re the ones that have a regular full-time position in the organization. They could be a process owner, a functional manager. They could be in an administrative position.
But ideally, they are problem-solving in their job. So they are key to successful and sustainable process improvement. We want people that it becomes the way they think. They’re in their position, they’re in their job and they recognize that there are opportunities for process improvement. So ultimately, we want this army of problem-solvers really to be ideally at the Green Belt level.
So, what we often see is that we have limited resources full time in an organization to support a Lean or Six Sigma effort. And what I find is and I think this is a mistake that those limited resources are training, training, training. And that doesn’t leave them a whole lot of time to do more important things like supporting projects and providing guidance when people go to apply these concepts.
And so ultimately, if you are providing some sort of online training support that frees up bandwidth for internal resources to really help people when they’re trying to apply this. And that’s difficult to outsource. So online training is easy to outsource actually and could be very effective. And so, why wouldn’t you do some sort of online training to build your bandwidth for those internal resources?
And unfortunately, I see that this is very much a struggle. I’ve actually run into organizations that have maybe 20 full-time resources for 8,000 people. They’re going to run out pretty quickly for resources and support.
So again, providing that online training can help offload some of that work and then these are self-directed. And these are becoming more and more popular, is applying and incorporating self-directed modules and the knowledge is more accessible than face-to-face. They can do it anytime. And really, it would just be a portion of the entire organization-wide program that you’re embarking on. And then those resources have some availability for helping their Green Belts.
Now, if this – if you are getting started with an organization-wide Lean Six Sigma training program of some kind, I would also recommend that you look at our Lean Six Sigma Training Rollout Kit. It’s everything you need to successfully launch a process improvement training program. And I’d highly recommend it. It actually minimizes some of the confusion and sometimes people make mistakes because they haven’t really thought through what they’re going to do and we’ll hear about some of that stuff in today’s session as well. So I would recommend that. It’s available on our website.
So how do you customize and create an enhanced experience for Green Belts? By creating support, providing online support and then developing what we would call these group review sessions that are peppered throughout these self-directed online training modules.
I’m going to talk a little bit first about what is a group review. So, what we’re seeing is very popular because obviously, we have online training is that organizations are purchasing online training and then creating their own group reviews within those modules to enhance the learning. So we would define group review as a sort of like a supplemental meeting or a working session that Green Belts attend. It’s obviously beyond the self-directed online training modules.
So, a common way people split this up is by phase. So the students are told, “Go through the define phase online self-directed training modules and then we’re going to meet. Do it by this day because that’s going to be our group review session for define.” So ultimately, that’s what they would end up doing.
So, some of us – some people have asked about size recommendations. And it really does depend I think on the skill of a facilitator. But ideally, you don’t want more than 12 people in these group review sessions because the idea is that we’re talking about application and if you have too many people in the room, it’s just easy to check out or you just feel like you don’t get a chance to ask people about your process or your challenges or your projects.
So, no more than 12 is ideal. And if you have more than 12 people going through the program at the same time, I would break it up. I would create two separate but parallel group sessions. And if you’ve got people that are on the same team like here’s a picture of – actually, this is one of our clients, Tacoma Public Schools. They are sitting as a group going through some of the group review together. And this group actually – some of them are sharing a project.
So some of them are on the same project team and there is about – there were three projects from this group. There is obviously more that they actually finished but they ended up having about three projects. So sometimes these people are on the same team and you can reorganize the group sessions based on how many people are participating on the same project.
Group Review Purpose
So, what is the purpose of a group review first of all? So there are lots of reasons why group reviews make sense. So first of all, having some sort of group review turns Green Belt Certification into a shared experience. And it’s not just – I’m not talking about just the touchy, warm, fuzzy feelings that you get. Shared experiences mean that those experiences mean more than just checking the box. And quite frankly, we’ve seen a lot of people just try to check the box for Green Belt Certification and they just want to get through it. And it doesn’t really feel very impactful when that happens.
So ultimately, what you’re doing is you’re actually creating a shared experience. You’re putting a group of people together. With these group reviews, there’s going to be some camaraderie that’s going to be built and they’re going to have more of a community sense and it could be very transformative. This improvement journey can be extremely transformative rather than just checking the box.
So ultimately, what you’re doing is you’re actually creating a shared experience. You’re putting a group of people together. With these group reviews, there’s going to be some camaraderie that’s going to be built and they’re going to have more of a community sense and it could be very transformative. This improvement journey can be extremely transformative rather than just checking the box.
So people are going to look at stuff differently after they go through Green Belt. My hope is that they’re going to look at things differently. I mean I just wrote a blog on shoe kanbans. OK? Yes, I admit, I had a shoe addiction and I put a shoe kanban in place to minimize some of my colossal inventory of shoes. And so to me, that is transformative. I mean you’re actually changing the way you live because of what you’ve learned in Green Belt.
After Green Belt, these people are going to go into a Subway and start analyzing the process of why their sandwich is taking so long to be built. And so, it’s just what happens most of the time is you start to just really apply this in a lot of different places. So having that shared experience just – it’s transformative.
The other reason why group reviews work so well is that it encourages real world application and discussion. So again, we take you to the Bahama Bistro and we try to make it fun and in a situation that is easy to understand some of these concepts. But the real learning is going to be enhanced when people talk about how they’re going to apply this stuff.
So, there are going to be concepts. The concepts are going to be fairly easy to grasp. Some of them might be a little hard. But most of them are fairly easy. But where that insightful learning happens is when you apply it to the real world.
Another reason why, providing built-in support to discuss project progress. So ideally, you want people that are going through Green Belt to have a project. And providing that support so that people can discuss how they’ve applied the tools, how they completed the project charter, how they completed a SIPOC.
Let’s look at my swimlane map. Are you guys seeing anything that I’m missing? You’re providing a forum for people to share and to get feedback and also hopefully from the facilitator as well as their peers. So ultimately, that is really nice.
It also provides a mechanism to keep the training front and center. So I think most people get this. Most people like most organizations, everybody is pretty busy and sometimes stuff doesn’t get done until the date that it’s due is coming up. So, dates and commitments drive action. And learners know if a group section is going to be coming up, it’s going to prompt them to get some of the work done. But if it’s just themselves, if they’re only going through self-directed online modules, sometimes that doesn’t – it’s not enough to hold them accountable.
So the group review sessions do a great job of keeping it accountable and making sure people are moving through the material in a fashion that is expected. So that is an important part of these group review sessions.
And finally, building that continuous improvement community within the organization. So I’m going to talk a little more about this but once you become a Green Belt or a Yellow Belt or a Black Belt, you’re inserted now into what I hope will be a community of continues improvement at your organization because continues improvement isn’t just checking the box. It’s also the way we think. It affects culture. And most healthy cultures have some sort of continuous improvement arm or mechanism. And you’re building that community.
And so, it’s just like any class. There’s a lot of camaraderie that can be built in a class and you don’t want to miss out on that because that’s the good stuff people like and they want to continue. I see a lot of people that are so excited about continuous improvement and they love the Green Belt training and they had a really successful project and then it’s like they never use it again. And we don’t want that to happen.
I see a lot of people that are so excited about continuous improvement and they love the Green Belt training and they had a really successful project and then it’s like they never use it again. And we don’t want that to happen.
So, these are some of the reasons why you want to have group review sessions. So before you can continue with planning these group review sessions, you have some very important questions to answer. And a lot of these questions are going to be also part in the Lean Six Sigma Training Rollout Kit but I’m going to cover some of them briefly.
Important Planning Questions to Ask
So first of all, if you’re new, if this is again a program that you’re just launching for your organization, one of the first things you have to think about is, well, what defines a Green Belt Certification for your company? So, are you going to require a project? I would highly encourage you yes, because most people want training but a lot of organizations want to see results. They want to see the return on investment. What am I getting from this certification? If we’re paying for all these people to get Green Belt Certified, what’s going to be the impact and the result? And so, project requirement is probably something I would not skip.
Another question is, are you going to have people do what we call a panel review, which is presenting their project at the end of their projects in front of a panel? Sometimes that is the final piece of certification. We have seen many organizations do it and it sounds a little formal but it can be really fun and rewarding at the same time.
So the panel typically would consist of a Black Belt or a Master Black Belt or this person’s sponsor or champion and they do a 30-minute presentation and sort of like the final – the last requirement if you will to get their Green Belt Certification. And most people will couple that with a party, a Green Belt Certification sort of celebration with all of the people that have been certified.
And then the other thing you want to think and this comes up a lot is, are you going to allow projects to be shared by multiple Green Belts? So some people initially would say no. Everybody has got to have their own project. But it really does depend on where you are in the journey. If you were very early on in the journey and you are just getting started, I actually would encourage you to have people share projects.
You don’t want them to go on this alone. You want them to be successful. And if five people are going through training together and they’re doing a project together, it’s going to feel like they got slighted if they don’t get credit for that. They all went to the training but only two people are going to get credit now? And so, you want to make sure that people – basically what you want to ask is, is this helping the initiative further along without denigrating the integrity of the program?
You don’t want them to go on this alone.
So, we had a client that we worked with. It was their first year of Lean Six Sigma Green Belt. And they put teams of people through the training. And all of the people that were in the training and on that Green Belt project team got credit. So there five or six, roughly five or six people that got credit. And that was really important because we all want them to feel like that they were getting something as well from the program.
The next year, they changed it. They said, “OK, so only the leads are now going to get credit.” Because they started to get more and more people wanting to go through Green Belt. So, you need to assess where you are in the journey and what makes sense getting started or are you further along?
And now, there are some organizations that Green Belts have to do their own projects and only one person gets credit. So that might be the tier that you might follow.
Next set of important questions and this is really important and I have to say, I still feel that most people miss this question all together. What is required after Green Belt Certification?
So, most people are so focused on getting people certified that they forget that Green Belts should probably have some sort of expectation after they are certified. So, here are some examples of some of the things that I think are good to consider.
First of all, if you are Certified Green Belt and you needed a project to get certified but after that every year you should be doing two projects a year. That’s one every six months. If this is the way you’re thinking and if you’re actually using this stuff, that is not a high bar. That is absolutely reasonable I believe a reasonable expectation for Certified Green Belts.
And the sad part is, most organizations have not asked Green Belts to do anything after the certification. So guess what? You’re just wasting that money. You are wasting talent more importantly because these people could do it.
The other requirement is to participate in continuous improvement community. So, my hope is that you’ve got a cadre of people that you are training through Green Belts and they’re going to be participating hopefully in the continuous improvement community. So when you guys do something that is community-based, that Green Belts are participating. They may even take a leadership role. Maybe they are presenting their project as part of the sharing of the community or maybe they’re doing a mini-training on how to actually use a fishbone diagram or something like that.
So, there are lots of things that someone that’s a Certified Green Belt could do to participate in building that community and participating in that community.
And finally, this is the other piece that I think is always missing. You’re going to have some Green Belt that are rock stars. They are rock stars. People love them. Why are they not mentoring their peers? Why are they not giving advice about a project charter? Why are they not being involved to bring more peers or mentor some of their peers just by providing advice?
So, those are really important things that you want to consider as part of your Green Belt Certification too. And you should share all these things right upfront because when people say, “I want to be a Green Belt,” then you say, “Well, here are the certifications to get a Green Belt and this is what will be required of you after you get your Green Belt.” And then they can say, “Yeah, OK. I want to be a Green Belt.” But if you don’t do this until later, they might actually feel like, “Well, why didn’t you tell me that before?”
So even though they really should – it shouldn’t bother them but you never know. It might. But why not be upfront about it?
So these are really important planning questions to ask before you even embark on doing some sort of Green Belt Certification. You want to make sure that you got this clearly understood and agreed before moving forward with waves of Green Belts.
So we’re going to do a poll. And this is really more specific to doing what we call blended training, right? So there are so many names for this. And my question really is, have you participated in hybrid training before? So I’m going to launch this poll and then you want to go ahead and answer the poll.
So, some of these actions are online self-directed training but then you’ve got virtual instructor sessions. So you’ve got instructors that you actually listen to. They’re not physically there but it’s a live instructor.
And then there’s the online self-directed with face-to-face training.
Then you have online self-directed with interactive class boards. So there’s no live instructor but the classroom has some sort of board that they’re creating some interaction with.
And finally, no, I have not participated in hybrid training before.
So Elisabeth, what is your sense with hybrid training? Have you participated in all different kinds?
Elisabeth: Yeah, I’ve been on all ends of it. Are you hearing an echo from me, Tracy?
Tracy: No, I’m not.
Elisabeth: OK, good.
Tracy: You’re good.
Elisabeth: I feel like the main thing you can have everyone experiencing the same thing within a particular method.
Tracy: Yeah. I have to honest and say that when online training started coming out, I wasn’t a huge fan. But now that the quality is increasing and people are getting much better at using that as a forum, I’m really liking it. I had one training that I went to and it was one of my favorite courses and it was blended. It was online self-directed and then there was a virtual instructor and then there was a classroom board. And it was great.
Elisabeth: Yeah, that’s great.
Tracy: OK. Shall we close the poll?
Elisabeth: I say close it up.
Tracy: All right.
Elisabeth: So the vast majority have not participated yet.
Elisabeth: So they are interested in how would that work, which is great. You still got 13% needs face-to-face, a little bit self-directed interactive class boards, and very few with virtual instructor sessions.
Tracy: OK. Nice. Thank you. So, that’s interesting. And so again, there are lots of different choices. And if you are creating a – if you’ve got a really nice outline of what you want to do, I mean people can have a great experience with online. I think there are lots of opportunities to make it really good.
So let’s talk a little bit more about determining a schedule. So let’s say, you pick a Green Belt Training, online training. Obviously, we’d love you to pick GoLeanSixSigma.com. We think it’s awesome. But ultimately, what you’re going to do is you’re going to determine a schedule for your people, when are they going to do the training, how do we allot it so that we give them enough time to complete the training modules and the exams and do some project work?
So again, we’re really thinking about what are some of the things we want them to do? So, you could identify the dates for the exams and for the training for each of the phases. So if you were going to do the standard way people do it is I usually – what’s really nice is there’s an introductory section that talks about project selection.
So I think it’s great to have them go through that and then do a check-in right after the intro to brainstorm project ideas because I think you want to get people started off on the right foot. And so, checking in just after they do the introductory phases I think is great. Or some people do it right after define and they check in and say, “OK. Let’s talk about what some of these projects are.”
So, those are some options. And then people will schedule a general session after measure and then after analyze and then after improve and then after control. And then they schedule like a presentation date six weeks from there so that they can finish projects. So that’s ultimately what you’re looking for is you want to say, “OK, how long do we give people?”
I find that corporations, they want a shortened window. They want the training and the group sessions and the exams be done within three months. And then they give them maybe six more weeks to do the project so that it’s done in four months.
In education, I find they give them a little bit more time. They have maybe six months or something like that.
So, you really want to think about how long do want to give the learners to go through the self-directed training modules? Then you want to think about the project work and when do you want them to get started on a Green Belt project and how do we make sure that we have the right – that we screen the project charters correctly? And how do we provide time to complete those projects?
So usually again, like I said, the online modules, there’s a quicker timeline and then basically adding some time for people to finish their projects at the end is good.
Now, it’s important to remind people that they should get started on their Green Belt projects as soon as they are able. So, you don’t have to wait until all the training modules are completed.
Now, what some people have done is they started their project right when they start their training. Others have gone through the training first and then as they say, “OK, I’m going to do my project now,” they go back to the training and revisit everything. So that works great for people that want like a general overview of what to expect before they start. But the caveat to that though is, don’t wait too late.
Unfortunately with some of our online training, I’ve seen people wait until they got to improve and they haven’t started their projects yet. So that really shortened your timeframe or your window to complete a project.
So, there are lots of options there.
And then the screening of the projects. So, the worst thing that can happen is that people go through the training, they pick a project, they don’t check in with anyone about the type of project and then they find out three or four or even seven weeks later that it’s not an ideal candidate for a Green Belt project. So, we want to make sure we set these people up for success and we want to make sure you screen those charters very early in the process so that they don’t feel like they are wasting their time.
What would be even better is if they had a sponsor that told them, “Look, we have problems with this process and the lead time is too long. Is this something that you could work on since you’re in the process?” So having some sort of discussion with a sponsor and the sponsor telling them what they want them to work on is great as long as the sponsor knows what a DMAIC project is because we’ve had that problem before as well.
“Look, we have problems with this process and the lead time is too long. Is this something that you could work on since you’re in the process?” So having some sort of discussion with a sponsor and the sponsor telling them what they want them to work on is great as long as the sponsor knows what a DMAIC project is because we’ve had that problem before as well.
So then you identify dates for group sessions throughout the different phases. And then finally, you’re going to build some of the detailed agendas for the students to use. And we’re going to probably spend most of our time talking about that is how do you build these detailed agendas for the students to use? So let’s get started on that.
Build Agendas for Each Session
So again, these are for the group reviews. So I’ve seen group reviews be anywhere from an hour and a half to four hours actually. And so again, it depends on how much time you want to spend. And don’t forget, these group review sessions are adding to the amount of hours people are investing. So sometimes we get – sometimes we have so much stuff we want them to do and then they look at and go, “Wow! That’s not – that’s like a hundred hours.” And that might be a little too much.
So I always say, think about what you want to get done. Two hours seems to be something that people feel fairly comfortable with. So you have to think about how much time you want to have and you want to consider some of the following: What kinds of activities are you going to be doing for this amount of time, this 2-hour group review sessions? What’s going to be the purpose or the benefit of these activities? What’s the feasibility of doing these activities? How accessible are the people going to be that are going to be facilitating these group review sessions?
Again, how much time do we have available? Who would participate as a speaker or a facilitator? So these are all things that you want to think about as you’re starting to build these agendas for the session.
Options for Group Review Sessions
So here are a couple of ideas that you could do during these group review sessions. First of all, most important, do an icebreaker. Again, you’re building that community of continuous improvement and we want people to get to know each other. We want people to enjoy talking to each other. We want people to actually have fun and you got to break the ice. And so, I would do these at the beginning of every session because it’s just a great reminder. I’m going to talk a little bit more about all of these on the next few slides.
We want people to enjoy talking to each other. We want people to actually have fun and you got to break the ice.
Another idea. You could invite one of your organization’s executives for a brief visit to one of these group review sessions. And that seems to go really well often. I’m going to talk more about that.
Display a presentation from a Green Belt that has already been certified. So, Green Belts sometimes that have gone through the process will visit these group review sessions and share their projects.
You could have a tour. So, there are lots of places that do tours or in your organization, if you’re implementing process improvement, you could actually maybe have a manager ask if you could bring the group by for a tour of what they’re doing. So now, you’re promoting tours within your own organization. And they love it. People like seeing it and people like giving the tours most of the time.
And then finally, another thing you could do for group review sessions is you could have pre-work on webinars or do – view videos together if they’re short. You could have them do pre-work on a podcast or a book. And then you could actually talk about those things during the group review sessions.
So I’m going to spend a little time talking about each one of these so that you can get a better idea of how – what you might do to create a group review session.
Heavy Polar Bears (Icebreakers)
So again, the first one is the icebreakers or what one of my students called heavy polar bears because those are icebreakers. And ultimately, icebreakers do enhance team productivity. I have to be honest and tell you that in my younger formative years, I actually didn’t like doing icebreakers because I thought that games would make me less professional. I was so wrong. Icebreakers have – there’s a lot of research out there that show that icebreakers can enhance productivity for teams and it really does humanize people.
And when I do – I do icebreakers all the time now. I keep them short, 10 to 15 minutes because it’s just enough time to break the ice to make people feel comfortable and then we can move into getting some of the work done. But when I look around the room when I do an icebreaker, everybody is always engaged. People are smiling. They like to hear the stories. They like to tell the stories. And it’s enjoyable. So, why would you not do them?
And it makes people remember that we’re all human. We are all doing something together. So it enhances team productivity. It enhances the student connections or the Green Belt candidate’s connections. And it helps build that community of continuous improvement.
Option 1: Icebreaker Sample
So, here’s an example of an icebreaker that I’d like to do at the very first one. And so, I basically have people introduce themselves. I say, “OK, what’s your name, your position, how long have you been with this company or organization? And also, share an interesting personal fact about you.”
And sometimes I say, it depends on the group, sometimes a lot – nobody knows each other because they’re coming from different organizations and sometimes they have been around or they know each other for a long time, so I always put a little caveat. I say, “Share something that most people don’t know about you that you’re OK with sharing and other people are OK with hearing.” And that always gets a laugh. But it’s true. We don’t want to share anything a little uncomfortable, if you know what I mean.
But these are just some examples. And it’s a great slide to put in there because it sort of sparks people’s thinking about what they want to share for their icebreaker.
So, I always – I also like and prefer the icebreakers that help you get to know people in the room versus games. So some people like to do games or they like to do challenges or competition. I prefer the ones that you actually – you share something about yourself and people get to know you somehow. I just think it – you find some commonality in there often that you didn’t know.
And so again, create those connections and ties. But it’s up to you how you want to do the icebreaker. I would just say definitely do one. Put it in the agenda for the first 10 to 15 minutes.
Option 2: Executive Visit
Another option I talked about already is bringing an executive in, an executive leader, to talk to the Green Belt candidates to hear the vision of process improvement and in the organization, to stress how important Green Belts are in the organization and what we’re hoping to accomplish as an organization with the army of problem solvers.
And then Green Belts have the opportunity to ask some questions to the leader. So this is a picture of actually an executive leader at King County, this is Fred Jarrett, and he is the King of continuous improvement. He probably doesn’t like that I said that but he is. And he would always come in all the time and talk to people that are doing kaizen events, that they’re doing Lean Training, whatever there is. He was very visible and people liked to hear what he had to say. People like to hear his vision of the best ran government and how continuous improvement was going to help people be the best ran government. So it was very inspiring and people really liked it.
Option 3: Certified Green Belt Visit
A third option is as I had said earlier, invite a Green Belt to come and share their project. So a Certified Green Belt can come in and they can do a lot of things. You can then put them on the agenda a couple of times. You can have them hear some of the charters and provide some feedback to their peers. You can have this Green Belt do a 30-minute presentation of their project and he can talk about or she can talk about lessons learned, challenges they had, recommendations from them. The candidates can now talk to the Certified Green Belt about Q&A, any questions they had. So, that could be very helpful too.
And again, it’s good for the candidates, the Green Belt candidates, it’s good for the Certified Green Belt. They get to be stay engaged and helpful and that they’re mentoring others.
And so, maybe you don’t have any Green Belts yet. So if you don’t have any success stories for Green Belt presentations, we have a bunch on our website. They’re free. They’re recorded project presentations. We call them success stories, project presentation success stories. If you go to this link, there’s a ton of them. There are all kinds of different types in HR, in IT, government, engineering. So find one that makes sense and you can use it as pre-work and then you can get your team to talk about it.
Option 4: Tour
Option 4. This I think is it may seem like more work but these are amazing. If you do a tour, so there are two things you can do. You could do an external tour or you could do an internal tour. So the external tour is when you find another company that does tours and you sign up and go. And I love these.
So I actually got to go to Taylor Guitars here in San Diego. They have implemented Lean process improvement. They do a tour every Thursday for free for an hour and they basically take this group of people through the entire facility. I don’t know if that’s what the schedule was I there. That was probably I’d say a year ago. But they show you how to make Taylor Guitars and how they are implementing process improvement and they’ve got all different kinds of ways that they’re implementing Lean and it’s really cool to see how this organization as well as others are implementing Lean and process improvement. It gives people ideas. They can see how things are working.
I also had a wonderful opportunity to see Sharp HealthCare here in San Diego who is doing amazing work in process improvement. And I also got to see an organization that makes hot tubs here in San Diego.
But you really do get a sense of the culture. It’s not just the tools that you get to see when you go on a tour, you get to see how people interact with each. You get to see that, and that is really important too. It’s kind of a stark contrast to what other – your culture might be as an example. You can ask questions and share best practices. I would highly recommend both. I would highly recommend trying to fit in an external tour or doing an internal tour.
So let me tell you a little bit about internal tours. If you’ve got groups in your organization that are shining in continuous improvement, they are using visual boards, they are using huddles, do a tour for their area. Take the Green Belts over there and have someone in that section do a tour. It doesn’t have to take very long.
And I think that does a lot for a lot of people. It gives people, the Green Belt candidates, some good insight to how it is being implemented. But it’s also good for the people that are giving the tour because it’s a reminder of how important the stuff is and it’s a reminder of why we’re doing things. And it’s also kind of inspirational and rewarding to see that people are coming to you to go to the tour.
It gives people, the Green Belt candidates, some good insight to how it is being implemented. But it’s also good for the people that are giving the tour because it’s a reminder of how important the stuff is and it’s a reminder of why we’re doing things.
I have a really quick story about this. So, King County is in Seattle, Washington. And I’ve been helping an organization there for a number of years and they had started doing tours. And this is a government organization. It’s Financial Business Operations Division, FBOD is what they call it in King County.
They’ve been doing tours for probably three years now. They actually do an Eventbrite site. They schedule it. It’s the last Monday of every month. And anybody can sign up.
Nordstrom came to this King County government agency. Amazon came to this King County government agency. And the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation came. So they are floored at the people and the organizations that are coming to see how process improvement is working in government. And that is amazing.
And so, they’re like, “They’re coming to government to see how this is getting done.” And these are their words, not mine. And so, they are ecstatic. And so, what does that do for your employees when you have organizations like that coming to see what you’re doing in process improvement?
So, not only should you go see tours but if you don’t have a tour yet, you should think about putting one on. That’s a whole another webinar that maybe will come out soon.
Option 5: Webinars, Videos, Podcasts
OK. Option 5. These are again, things you can do that can create a little bit of variety into your group review sessions. So these might probably befall more under the pre-work before you do a group review session. But there are webinars like this one that we have on GoLeanSixSigma.com. All of these things by the way that are listed on this slide are free. OK? So you can go find one you like, copy the link, and just put it in the agenda for the pre-work and it doesn’t cost you anything because we also bought in that we need armies of problem solvers.
And so, you could do webinars, we have a podcast every month that features lots of things. We put books in there that we review. We interview people that are authors but we also interview people that are in charge of Lean organizations. Like for example, the Lean Tours at Seattle Children’s Hospital on the top right.
We also have success stories webinars. These are 30-minute basically presentations on a project that says, “Here is my project and here’s how I did it.”
And finally, we’ve got blogs. And these are basically articles that we write about mostly applying Lean and Six Sigma to well, shoe addicts. And yes, I wrote that blog. I already said that I’m a shoe addict. So, I’m working on it and I’m using Lean Six Sigma to do it.
OK. So we have another poll for you. Which ones have you been exposed to as part of a training program? And so, I’m going to launch the poll here so please answer the poll. And we’ll see where we are.
So, which of these have you been exposed to as part of the training program? Go ahead and fill this out.
Executive visit during the training.
Peer presentations from a Certified Green Belt.
Tours of other organizations.
Or finally, supplemental webinars, videos and podcasts.
Elisabeth: I just had a group yesterday, Tracy, of 16 Green Belts, big group. And we were having two of these. One, we had an executive visit which was – I think it always shows the group their support there which is incredibly powerful, just knowing they have support.
And the other one is we had a Green Belt there show their projects. And that speak volumes. It also guides the group on where they’re headed, what their expected to-do, what looks good in a PowerPoint, what speaks to them, what visuals work. Those are great. So I was just thinking it just happens so it was top of mind. It was so effective.
It also guides the group on where they’re headed, what their expected to-do, what looks good in a PowerPoint, what speaks to them, what visuals work.
Tracy: Yes. And again, all of these we expect to be high quality when they’re done. And of course, if they are high quality, they could be very powerful in terms of inspiration or education.
I’m going to go ahead and close the poll and then we could share some results. What do we have, Elisabeth?
Elisabeth: So the biggest vote getter was supplemental webinars, videos and podcasts. And next up is none, so again loss of opportunity, 26%. And then we’ve got 19%, peer presentation from a Certified Green, which I think like I said speaks volumes. And then at the end, both executive visit and tour of another organization, 11%, which is unfortunate. Executive should be out there front and center and tours, I’m just getting rolling with that. Also, great options.
Tracy: Yes, wonderful. Thank you. I’m going to go ahead and hide these results. So I think that was really interesting to see where people were. And I think it’s easy to show supplemental webinars, videos, and podcasts as part of it. But what I really think – what I really want people to walk away from as part of this webinar is you’re creating an experience. And that experience can really transform people and the way they think about process improvement.
And so, it’s a great opportunity to really put together something great and it doesn’t have to cost you a lot. It may require a little bit of coordination at the beginning. But it is so worth it. So just in some of the votes showing that there’s not a lot of these things are being leveraged right now in some of these trainings and I think there’s so much – it could be so much more than what it is right now.
And so, I hope that you see some of that inspiration and some these options that people have for these for creating an experience for Green Belts. And I only say Green Belts because again, that is the big group of people that most organizations have. You could do this for Yellow Belt. You could do this for Green Belt. You could do this for Black Belt if you want. Wouldn’t it be cool if all the Black Belts got to go to Japan together? I don’t know. It might be a little expensive but who knows?
Create Agenda for Each Session
So ultimately – so, go out there. Get inspired. And then think about the agendas for each of the sessions. What do you want to cover? I would write them out. Make sure that you share those agendas in advanced so people know what to expect. And again, always start with a group activity or an icebreaker. Do some sharing.
I always say that these group sessions, my success measure, anytime I’m in front of people is interaction and sharing and learning. And are people, do they seem engaged? Is the body language that they’re engaged? And if they are talking, they are engaged most of the time. So how – what activities are you doing and sharing so that you’re promoting that?
Make sure you establish some of the ground rules. And again, mostly it’s around the peer to peer coaching. So if you’re going to allow coaching as part of this environment like if people are sharing their project charters or they’re sharing their fishbone or they’re sharing their swim lane, here is a must. Any time feedback is given by a Green Belt in training, it needs to follow the pros, the pluses, and deltas format,
So first, you share, “Here’s what I like about your swimlane. Here’s what I really like about your project charter. You have a really solid goal statement. You have a really solid timeframe. You have a great business case.” And then going to the delta is what you would change. Always follow that format. Make sure somebody has it. Otherwise, it just feels like people are getting stepped on all the time because people forget to say the good stuff. They always go right to the stuff that needs to be improved. And that doesn’t feel good. So that is really the ground rule that is the most important.
Pre-Work Prior to Group Session Sample
OK. So, here is an example of a pre-work outline that was written. This is actually the one that Tacoma Public Schools used. And so, it kind of shows all the pre-work that they want to get done before the first meeting, before the define phase meeting.
Now, I will say this. This looks like a lot. And Tacoma Public Schools made most of these videos optional. So like especially if they were over 30 minutes. So for example, when you go down to section three, webinars videos to review, video mills per hour is 6.5 minutes. So those were spend the time to do that. Anything that was over 30 minutes they said was optional because that was adding a lot of time to the training.
But again, you decide what you want to do. If you really like a video and you want to make it mandatory, just make sure that you outline that.
And then there are some blogs to be read. And then there are some templates that they were going to be needing to download so that they could do the homework.
Agenda for Session 1 Sample
And then they also listed the actual and specific agenda for the group review. So this is for the define phase group review, here is what we’re going to do. We have welcome introductions and warm-up. We’re going to talk about objectives of the Green Belt. We’re going to talk about your expectations. We’re going to talk about the process and the schedules. So you could see that this was very much introductory and they combine the intro and the define phase group review.
So, you’ll see that they have an activity that they wanted to do. And so, some of the homework was submit the project charter before the session or bring the project charter with you. And then that was the pluses and deltas for everybody got to share their charter and everybody got to participate in the coaching.
So that’s just an example of some of the things that you might share with the Green Belt candidates.
Creating Standard Work
And then depending on if this is going to be – if you’re going to be sending in a lot of waves of Green Belt, you probably want to create some standard work around this. So for people that are interested in Green Belt, what are you going to share in terms of what the requirements are? I had mentioned that earlier. Here is what is going to be expected of you to get your certification. And then here’s what’s expected after. And then sending out an email.
Also, creating check list to coordinate the reserving rooms, supplies, technology. Creating an introduction email for all the new Green Belt candidates, sending out email reminders for what’s to be completed by the next group review. So, all of these things are really important things to create standard work so that you don’t have to do it every time from scratch.
And again like I said before, post training stuff is really important, making sure that you are providing recognition of completion of the activity should also be on there and it should be on the schedule. Also, an expectation of how they’re going to contribute to the community that’s going to be doing two Green Belt projects a year.
And also, this is just a picture of a Green Belt that went through the course, the GoLeanSixSigma.com online Green Belt and they actually did – I loved it. They did sort of like a tradeshow and all of the Green Belts have one of these boards and people would go from table to table and they would talk about what their project was. And what was really nice is they kept all of these boards standard so that as they went from table to table, they started to see a pattern in where to look for some of the information. So that was great for the people that were coming into the tradeshow.
And this is Jim and he’s got his Green Belt Certificate that he was awarded just after the tradeshow. And this is his manager who brought him balloons. Isn’t that sweet?
So again, this is – the recognition that we’re looking for in terms of post training. And again, you should definitely – there are lots of things you could do to show public recognition in celebration of Green Belt. This is just one of them.
Today We Covered
So, we covered why group sessions enhance learning, how to coordinate a group of LSS learners to complete the online. We did cover the ground rule that is the most important pluses and deltas throughout any group review and any activities that you could think through to develop your group sessions and enhance the online learning.
So, we are going to be talking about seeing if you have any questions about this webinar. So please, go to the question window and type any question that you have and then we’re going to try to get them answered for you. And if we can’t answer them while we’re on the webinar because we only have about 6 minutes left then we’ll get them answered for you later today on our website.
So again, if you want to learn more, I’m going to cover some of these things while I’m waiting for some questions to come in. But again, we’ve got free Yellow Belt Training. We also have Green Belt Online Training, Black Belt Training, Lean Training. Hey, these are options for you if you want to make online self-directed training a part of your program.
We also like I said have free webinars. The next one that’s coming up is next month. Elisabeth is going to be presenting that for us. And her title is 5 Ways to Create Charts and Graphs to Highlight Your Work. Elisabeth, did you want to share anything about the webinar?
Elisabeth: Yeah. This one is a companion for Green Belts going through with the project and its instructions on how to create basic charts like Pareto Charts, Histograms, Run Charts, Box Plots, and Scatter Diagrams with Sigma Excel or Minitab just so people have instructions on how to do it.
Tracy: OK. Wonderful. Thank you. We also have a podcast coming up. And at the moment, we have this one by Honsha, it’s Back to the Birth of Lean – A Journey to Toyota in Japan. We’re talking with Darril Wilburn. He is a Senior Partner at Honsha. And they actually have a tour that they do in Japan of Toyota.
And so hey gosh, if you’ve got a big budget for Black Belts and you want inspiration, go on this tour. But anyway, the webinar – the podcast really has him talk through what that journey is like for people that go on the tour.
All right. So let’s hear about some of the questions that we have.
Elisabeth: So this is a question from Lyn and she is asking, “If somebody has not completed all of the pre-work, do you still have staff participate?” And she is saying in particular example would be new employees.
Tracy: That’s a great question. A lot of it is dependent. Some of it is managing. So, there’s going to be times where people are going to get busy and they’re not going to complete everything. I think the bigger issue is if there’s a pattern and you start to see that the same people are not completing the pre-work.
And then I would say that that requires a conversation with those people because let’s face it. I’ve seen this before. People really get excited and they want to do it. But their ability to commit at this moment is not right and sometimes they don’t recognize it until they are already in the training.
People really get excited and they want to do it. But their ability to commit at this moment is not right and sometimes they don’t recognize it until they are already in the training.
So, I guess the answer is yes and no and it depends. And so hopefully, that would help. Do you have any comments on that, Elisabeth?
Elisabeth: No, that’s good. I think you covered it nicely. And if that’s not enough, Lyn, please reach out to us separately to get more information. In fact, all of you are very welcome to reach out to us. You can send emails to [email protected] if you want some more information on group reviews and how to roll out your own training from GoLeanSixSigma.com. We’re really happy to help you. We want to see it flourish.
I’ve got another question for you, Tracy, from I think it’s Nala who says, “Thank you for sharing all this wonderful information, Tracy.” This is a very nice comment there. And the question is, “Is it available for international participation?”
Tracy: So, our program, the online – the Green Belt is international. As a matter of fact, we’re in 220 countries already. And so, it’s all in English. But we also have a Chinese version. And I think we’re going to be having more languages coming out by the end of the year.
So, I think the challenge for international is going to be timing, right? So you don’t want somebody having to come in at 3AM to come into the webinar or the group review. So, there have been times where people have done group reviews in person, face-to-face or they’ve had people call in for a group review virtually. And if they’re all international and they’re not in the same place, that might be a really great option.
Elisabeth: Yeah. No, I think that’s great. OK. So that is it for our Q&A session online. But you can absolutely ask questions separately. Tracy will post them all on the website. And as I mentioned before, please reach out to us individually. We’d love to hear from you. The address is up here on the screen, [email protected] We’d love to talk to people getting rolling on their problem-solving journeys. We love to support all of the problem solvers out there.
Tracy: Thank you for joining us. I will see you next time.
Elisabeth: Absolutely. Bye, everybody.
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