Processes are the backbone of any organisation. They ensure things run as they should and that work is completed to a high standard. As mastery enthusiasts we’re big fans of analysis and improvement. Lean Six Sigma has taught us to apply this method to our processes to deliver maximum value in everything we do.
What is Lean Six Sigma?
Lean Six Sigma (LSS) is a methodology that takes a deep, objective look at the processes of a team or business and optimises to ensure they’re achieving maximum efficiency. As our Manager of Campaign Operations, Ruud Zanders, points out, “We hire smart people who are great at their jobs. Obviously we want to put those skills to the best use, not see them wasted on menial tasks. This is why setting up our processes efficiently is so important.”
LSS relies heavily on measurement and data – two things very dear to our hearts – stating anything that can be measured should be measured (including things like time, money, client satisfaction). Measurement quantifies whether the time and effort going in is worth the outcome. Measurement is integral for optimisation as it provides an in-depth understanding of the process, enabling you to make better optimisations.
How do we use it?
We had our first Lean Six Sigma QuickScan in August 2015. This involved the Lean Six Sigma team spending three weeks alongside our campaign operations team, observing how they work. Several brainstorm sessions were held about what we were doing, why, and whether or not these things add value to our clients. Finally, the LSS team presented their assessments of our processes and how much time we could save while delivering even more impact to our clients with a few tweaks.
What did it uncover?
The LSS team noticed the way we were receiving input was restricting our effectiveness in setting up campaigns correctly. Measurement of this process found that around 50% of received campaign briefings were incomplete. This meant campaign managers would have to back-track for additional information on the original input, costing time and effort that would have been better put towards managing the campaign.
So we did something about it…
To streamline this process, Rik Terpelle, one of our Campaign Operations Team Leads took the reins, putting together a small taskforce. Using the LSS method, this group looked at the process in slow motion to identify the cause of the problem. “As problem-solvers, we’re fixated with finding solutions. The LSS method requires you to slow down and look for the reasons these problems are coming up and remove the cause of the problem, rather than find quick-fixes.
By shifting focus to the root causes we’re removing the problem rather than just fighting symptoms, which could end up taking more time and effort. Keeping these projects small and focused, rather than big-scale operations, enables us to continuously fine-tune and improve our processes.” Rik says. Once the cause(s) of inefficiency were identified, the team worked together to remove them or find solutions.
We’re working smarter
Solutions are plotted on a matrix effort vs. benefit gained from each solution. In this case, a stronger template was made, immediately flagging missing data or incorrect information. This solution has saved the campaign operations team a lot of time and effort in chasing up information for campaigns. It’s a little too early yet to measure how much more efficient this template has made the team (if we’ve closed that 50% gap), but so far we’re happy to report that all briefings we’ve received lately are filled in correctly.
Working with Lean Six Sigma is helping us perfect our process, ensuring we minimise waste and maximise efficiency. Rik points out that it’s taught us to break down our thinking in other areas of work as well, rather than hastily looking for solutions and creating work-arounds, we find the causes. This isn’t just great for clients and partners who are assured better business practices, but also benefits our colleagues who get to do the job’s they’re passionate about, rather than menial tasks that get in the way. Implementing Lean Six Sigma is just another way we’re working towards becoming the organisation of the future, by creating a workplace where people can put their full range of skills to use, while being empowered to grow their talents and thrive with teamwork.
Does campaign operations sound like the kind of team you’d like to join? Check out the vacancies on our career page!
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