Selling Lean Six Sigma learning initiatives...

by Greg Surtman

As I reflect back on the Lean Six Sigma initiatives that we (Cuyahoga Community College) supported over the past 10 years, I think about how we transformed our approach to maximize impact to the organizations we served. I enjoyed selling Lean Six Sigma learning initiatives because they applied to ALL industry sectors and I had a personal interest in helping organizations become more productive. I’d like to share some of these “best practices” with you:

Gain Leadership Support

Lack of leadership support is the #1 reason why continuous improvement initiatives fail. Make certain to engage as many folks on the leadership team as possible on the front end. Propose that the leadership team experience a “Champion Belt” process, which will provide the basics of Lean Six Sigma and help them understand their role in supporting a continuous improvement initiative. Leaders will not support anything they do not understand. The “Executive Champion Committee” should be a sub-set of the leadership team that is actively engaged in the process. This committee should weigh in on project selection on the front end, provide support for the project teams and participate in the project report out. With leadership support, you can sustain a Lean Six Sigma learning initiative, which means training more employees, at different levels, for several years.

Adopt a Blended Learning Approach

This approach combines the best of online learning with the benefits of instructor led facilitation. Students can learn much of the concepts and theory of Lean Six Sigma online through engaging content, practical exercises, and post-tests. Now they can spend more time in classroom sessions applying what they have learned. Since your instructors will have administrative access to the learning portal, they can find out how the class performed with the online content and modify the classroom sessions accordingly. The online portal serves as an ongoing resource for the student throughout the learning process, as they can access the content at their convenience. The Quality Group is the partner I highly recommend to support a blended learning approach. This partnership will enable your team to have standard Lean Six Sigma curriculum delivered in a blended learning environment, the scalability you will need to grow this service area, and the flexibility your clients will appreciate.

Project Implementation

Learning the tools of Lean Six Sigma is great, but the learning opportunity is maximized when you have an opportunity to apply these tools to a project that you can resonate with. Meaningful projects should be identified that create both a good learning experience as well as impact to the organization. A “Project Selection” session at the beginning of the Lean Six Sigma engagement will help prioritize all projects under consideration, and provide scope and boundaries so that success can be achieved within the identified time frame. Dedicated “Project Team Coaching” hours between the instructor and each project team will help move projects forward in preparation for the Report Out to the Executive Champion Committee.

Report Out

All stakeholders should be invited to a formal Report Out so that project teams can demonstrate what they have learned, how they applied Lean Six Sigma to their projects, and the impact their project has on the organization. This should be a time to celebrate success and determine how the organization moves forward with their continuous improvement journey. The Executive Champion Committee can determine action items moving forward which typically includes charging project teams to either expand scope on their current project or take on a new project. This is also the time when leaders discuss how many more employees should go through the learning experience, which makes the Report Out an actual “sales call” in disguise for your team.

If you would like to explore how Contract Training Edge can help your team grow revenue by selling Lean Six Sigma learning solutions, please contact Greg Surtman at 216-509-6398, or

Happy Selling, my friends…