In a recent LSSBB Course, out of about 10 students, a few were consistently “checked out”.
One individual was assigned the course by her manager and noted during introductions that her current role as an analyst does not extend beyond Define, Measure, & Analyze in their organization. This position was agreed by other managers within the organization.
A second student voluntarily signed up for the class but seemed very distracted throughout most sessions. Several times during the class, I worked to get him more involved, and when he participated, he appeared to understand the concept or tool we were discussing. His attention was then immediately diverted back to the work outside the class.
Finally, a third student was great from the start. He was involved in all activities and actively discussed each topic. During the final few days of the class, covering some very detailed work regarding Hypothesis Testing, Correlation / Regression, DOE, and Pilot trials, this third student was pulled out of class for some “very high-level meetings”.
On exam day, one student did not attend and therefore skipped the exam. The other two students struggled greatly and ultimately did not pass the exam.
Over the past few years I have taught about a dozen LSS Green Belt classes and maybe half as many Black Belt classes. There are always distractions, but lately these distractions have become more intrusive to the detriment of the student (and sometimes to the entire class).
In addition to the usual “other work” distractions, I have noticed a pattern. In any organization that mentions words like Agile, Big Data, or Data Science, there is a rejection of the methodical approach taught as DMAIC. Examples of comments include:
- Too much time spent discussing the project charter and specifically the problem statement.
- Why question the data that is collected from our system? It’s what everyone here uses.
- With big data and data science, the measurement system doesn’t matter much. We can clean it up before analyzing it.
- Why must we spend the time proving or disproving potential root causes (validating potential critical X’s) during the Analyze phase. With Agile, we can quickly address all of them and move on!
- Do we really need to run all the treatments in a DOE? That will take forever!
- If we have chosen a solution, why do we need to run a Pilot trial? Why not just launch it? We can improve it later.
- Why do we need the documentation? We know the process will change quickly as we correct things “on the fly”. (Availability vs. Completeness)
- With so many data mining / process mining software options, why do we need to know about manual methods to map processes?
- Things move so fast in our world that Value Stream Mapping seems pointless.
- LSSGB/BB training spends too much time teaching history and theory and takes way too long to get to the tools.
I wonder how much of this can tie back to candidate selection and setting expectations with leadership before the class even starts. In my experience, especially with a brand new deployment or one that is several year deep (so more complacent) the expectations are either glossed over or forgotten. Requirements for candidates to have a passion, aptitude, and desire for the content can weed out some of the disinterested folks. Setting clear expectations about the time commitment and doing a 'formal' agreement with leadership can help with the folks that get pulled out.
Sometimes we have to ask leadership the tough questions like: do we really want this? Is this the right time? Are these the right candidates? We just to be prepared that we may not like the answer we get. But, asking and having some really meaningful dialogue gives us the opportunity to also gain commitment.
Rachel's point about the class makeup is on point. Although while there are likely a fair number of "vacationers" and "prisoners" that do attend training these days, many are probably "learners" that are overwhelmed. Every day I see people who have to deal with email while in meetings, and leave one meeting to go to another meeting. It is not uncommon to be triple booked at any one time. Rigor, focus, and patience is in short supply.
While I went through my years of obtaining certifications and Six Sigma training, I was was always in awe that I was able to obtain knowledge that previously took decades for Quality professionals a generation before to learn. People don't have that perspective any more.
It's a different world! I don't think there is any going back....
How should we change?