The following blog post was written by Riverwood Associates partner, Scott Luton.
Have you heard about or has your organization experienced challenges related to the skills gap that persists in the United States? You are certainly not alone. Consider these findings:
- In 2012, according to a study conducted by the University of Missouri-St.Louis: over 25% of employers reported a deficiency in Critical & Analytical Thinking in the workforce (amongst a wide variety of other gaps)
- In 2013, according to an Adecco study: over 44% of employers reported a significant gap in soft skills – – Communication, Critical thinking, Creativity, Collaboration
- In 2014, according to a study conducted by LMA Consulting and published by the Association for Manufacturing Excellence: 87% of manufacturing and distribution executives are experiencing challenges directly related to the skills gap. 64% of these executives stated that the gap is wide or bigger than in years past. Amongst the findings, 61.1% reported a lack of Problem-Solving skills; 50% reported a lack of Critical/Analytical Thinking skills.
These numbers are staggering. However, if you have spent any time out in the field with organizations in almost any industry, you hear the anecdotal evidence that supports the data. Companies are struggling to not only find talent, but find skilled talent. So what are the solutions? There is no short list of silver bullet quick fixes. However, one proven methodology that some organizations are using as part of the solution is Lean Six Sigma (LSS). In a very small nutshell: Lean focuses on the relentless pursuit of the elimination of waste, in all forms. It also aims to reduce process cycle times (not working faster – but improving the process!). When you think of waste, don’t think solely on what you put out on the curb this morning. Continuous improvement professionals typically categorize waste into 8 types, including intangible categories such as wasted movement, waiting, overprocessing, etc. Six Sigma, on the other hand, was developed by Motorola in the 1980s and focuses its efforts on streamlining processes to eliminate variation and defects. Lean Six Sigma combines these methodologies into a powerful system that places a hyper-focus on two things: the Customer and the Pursuit of Operational Excellence. What is the connection to the skills gap as reported above? I would argue that Lean Six Sigma provides:
- Tools to drive common sense improvement, success and collaboration in the organization, whether you are a manufacturer or a healthcare provider or a technology organization.
- A framework for better problem-solving, critical/analytical thinking and decision-making. As we all know, the Big Data movement has companies collecting, using, and leveraging data in powerful ways to gain competitive advantage. But even if you have vaults of data, you must have a successful, effective system for utilizing the data. Otherwise, you have a Ferrari in the garage that is never taken out for a spin.
- A new way of thinking about your process, your department, your organization and your enterprise. The new eyes and ears that one gains by training in Lean Six Sigma can be transformative.
How do you learn more about Lean Six Sigma? Join us on February 27th at IT-oLogy’s Headquarters in Columbia, SC as we conduct our second Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt certification workshop. This one-day workshop will offer participants a fundamental overview of Lean Six Sigma tools & methodology in a very practical, interactive manner. Our first LSS Yellow Belt certification workshop with IT-oLogy and Innovista Learning was conducted on December 5th and enjoyed the participation of a diverse group of almost 30 professionals from a wide range of companies: BASF, Metso, Black Box, Jarden Applied Materials, South State Bank, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and others. The training and curriculum resonated with the audience, but the best practice and information sharing amongst the professional audience was powerful as well. One attendee’s perspective: “The Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt workshop at IToLogy was a super productive single day learning experience that did an excellent job of instilling a solid baseline into the Lean Six Sigma body of knowledge. I came away with new insights into project-focused frameworks that I was able to put to work right away. The scope of the workshop was a good fit for giving me new tools that I’m now using for measuring and improving our projects and processes, and that gives us better control of our outcomes. By taking this first step into leveraging the Six Sigma approaches, I feel like we have a higher confidence level that we’ll get better ROI from our efforts by using the concisely defined approaches that everyone on our team can understand. And that’s important for moral and buy-in to continuous improvement efforts. Overall, I was really impressed with the instructor, Peter Sherman, who did an expert job of transferring a wealth of process improvement skills and knowledge to the participants.” – – Mr. Tom Cranmer, Chief Technology Officer, Richland School District Two.
Join us on February 27th at IT-oLogy to experience Lean Six Sigma for yourself.