Principle of War #12 – Exploitation

Most Lean Six Sigma professionals would agree that follow through and sustainment are the two greatest challenges facing Kaizen teams. A Kaizen event is a dynamic, full of energy team activity that usually achieves significant results. The key challenge lies in the weeks after the Kaizen event, this is when old habits re-emerge and the improved method could lose its grip.

Research shows in order to develop a new habit people have to complete 21 iterations – meaning Kaizen success can only be claimed roughly 4 weeks after completion. This is a critical time for the improvements to take hold, like a military victory you don’t want to lose ground you fought so hard to gain. 

Lean Six Sigma facilitators use various tools to help the team with full implementation and sustainment. These include action plans, control charts, metrics, continuous improvement thinking, and most importantly leadership audits. Organizational leaders must show employees sustainment is vital by personally following up. Inspect what you expect!

Follow up vigorously on a break-through once it’s achieved.