Super Charging Lean Six Sigma Using the Adizes Methodology: A Case Study

By Darrell Gooden, Jose Jacinto Juarez and Shoham Adizes

In a nutshell, Lean Six Sigma practitioners seek to assist clients in delivering products and services as quickly as possible, on time (speed), with no errors (high quality), and at 9a873809-a301-4a6e-91b3-b9dd9f57d3aethe lowest price (low cost).

Six Sigma was born in Motorola during the 1980′s and was popularized by General Electric over the next decade. Lean was derived from the Toyota Production System in the 1960′s and was popularized in the book, Lean Manufacturing. Many manufacturers and service organizations have adopted Lean Six Sigma strategies over the years.

Armed with such a methodology, why would any organization using Lean Six Sigma consider using the Adizes Methodology?

The answer is that while Lean Six Sigma focuses on speed, quality, and cost, they do not address issues relating to organizational culture, structure, mission, and managerial process.  In short, neither Lean nor Six Sigma are designed to approach an organization’s problems holistically.  They do not provide the means to deal with the more complex issues of people, structure, mission, vision and values, but rather only address operational problems.

As such, Lean & Six Sigma offer little when dealing with highly complex problems that involve more than just the manufacturing facility, but rather have roots spreading throughout the organization. These are problems for which the task to solve the problem is not clear. “Where do we start? What should we do?”

At Adizes we work side-by-side with our clients to deploy a comprehensive change management program that deals with much more than just symptomatic operational issues.

The truth is, Lean Six Sigma lacks many of the participative decision-making tools that Adizes offers, which contribute to better decision making and faster implementation. Concepts like CAPI, which define who needs to be in the room during the decision making process and other tools, which ensure that all participants in the decision making process have stated roles and responsibilities, which are unique to Adizes.

As Dr. Adizes often says, “Those who row the boat, don’t rock the boat.”

In Adizes as opposed to Lean or Six Sigma, we make sure everyone has an oar.

Additional Adizes tools that do not exist in either Lean or Six Sigma focus on converting conflict into a force that not only helps the problem solving team make better decisions, but also acts as a catalyst to help change the culture of the organization. In this way, during Adizes sessions, we not only aim to solve the problem on the table, but also to change the organizational culture, provide on the spot managerial training and development, and enrich the managerial styles of all involved in the process.

By taking into account more than just the symptomtic problem, Adizes is able to create results that are significantly greater and longer lasting than those provided by Lean and/or Six Sigma alone.

At the Adizes Institute we have worked with many organizations that were already deploying Lean and/or Six Sigma within their organizations.

These organizations identified that Lean Six Sigma lacked the total organization transformation perspective. The different Lean Six Sigma teams were not coordinated into the greater change effort. There were minimal mechanisms to connect the work of each team to the work of other teams, even when the problems were highly related. This resulted in a lack of coordination, redundant work, a lack of implementation and ultimately, frustration among the work force.

Upon introducing the Adizes Methodology to compliment the tools of Lean & Six Sigma, these organizations were able to super charge their change initiatives.

You see, the Adizes Methodology easily assimilates the essential elements of both Lean Six Sigma while also providing a larger, organic, framework for the entire change program.

An example of such an approach was undertaken with a large government contractor based in California. This organization quickly started adopting Adizes tools within their Lean Six Sigma sessions. Adizes meeting rules, and the concept of CAPI, provided each member of the team with a clearly defined role, while other concepts were embraced to strengthen implementation and effectiveness.In addition, the POC (Participative Organizational Conduit) structure was utilized to coordinate, prioritize, and communicate activities amongst the different teams. The POC was also able to cascade different change initiatives throughout the organization. This led to a more coherent change effort.

Finally, upon implementing the Adizes transformation program, the organization was able to address issues stemming from the structure, mission, vision, individual behavior, culture, and operational processes. In this way, the organization was able to deal with more than just symptomatic problems.

Three years into the integrated approach (Adizes plus Lean Six Sigma) an unprecedented thing happened. The organization won both the National Shingo Prize for Lean Operational Excellence ‘and the California award for Performance Excellence. The leadership credited Adizes as making the difference that distinguished the organization’s unique approach. The Adizes methodology functioned as the “motherboard” for change management in the organization.

The “POC” that was established, ran continuously throughout the next 10 years, long after Adizes services were being delivered. Adizes concepts such as CAPI, PAEI, internal marketing etc. … became the lingua franca of the organization.

This is one case of many where the Adizes Methodology was brought in to super charge a change initiative that was floundering.

An important point before closing…

The majority of Lean Six Sigma implementations fail, as do many other change initiatives, because of a missing ingredient.

That missing ingredient emanates from the climate, attitudes and managerial norms within the organization. Intrinsically validating those intangible assets requires acknowledging the necessity of organizational structure and culture in change management.

Herein the Adizes Methodology  surpasses the great majority of other change methodologies.