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How do other problem-solvers deal with adversity? What’s the best way to schedule improvement work? What do people want in a Continuous Improvement leader? We took a few polls so you could find out for yourself!

Check out how people like you navigate the Lean Six Sigma world and what kinds of tools and techniques help the most. And please check back often as we add new polls regularly!

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  • What is your favorite Lean Six Sigma phase?*
    • Define: Determining which problem to solve
    • Measure: Collecting process data about the problem
    • Analyze: Determining the root cause of the problem
    • Improve: Solving the problem
    • Control: Building structures to hold on to the gains
    *Please select one answer
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We make it easy to achieve your goals using Lean Six Sigma. If you’re ready to begin transforming your organization, check out our free Lean Six Sigma resources, visit our blog (Success Stories, Application Tips, Thought Leadership and more!), and view our online courses!

The post Survey Says: What Goes Wrong & How to Fix It appeared first on GoLeanSixSigma.com.

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SUCCESS STORY: Improving a Hiring Process at LA County With Meghan Taylor - YouTube

Find out how Meghan Taylor creatively streamlined the hiring process for Election Operations Support. Watch this 30 minute success story to see how the LA County Registrar Recorder/ County Clerk is implementing process improvement.

Meghan Taylor is a Senior Clerk at LA County’s Election Operations Center (EOC), and the primary focus of her role has become Lean Six Sigma Consulting. After 73% of her new election hires didn’t show up for training, Meghan found her new improvement project: the Hiring Process.

The Challenge

Every election, the Election Operations Center hires over 1,000 temporary employees to help with election functions. All new hires must go through two related hiring processes—one for HR and one for the EOC. Both processes have a combined total of 30 steps that a new hire must complete, and this is all for a 1-3 days assignment. Yikes!

The Discovery

After mapping these processes and looking for areas of improvement, Meghan identified numerous opportunities from the length of applications to their payment method. It looked like the entire process needed to be redone, but Meghan’s team was able to brainstorm and implement all their solutions in under 4 months!

The Improvements

Meghan and her team started by changing the position title of their most common role from “Swamper” to Check-In Center Loading Assistant to better align with the position’s responsibilities. Next, they reduced the size of the application to just one page. They utilized the state’s minimum hiring requirements to increase the number of completed applications and reduce the number of hires being turned down for forgetting the usual hiring paperwork. The team also checked-in with their hires more frequently—3 times prior to election day versus just once. Lastly, they changed their payment structure to a stipend model.

The results?

  • They met their recruitment goal in 4 weeks vs. 4 months
  • Employee turn-out on Election Night was 83% vs. 56% for the previous election
  • Application processing time reduced from 10 days to just minutes
  • Total process reduced from 30 to 22 steps
  • Payroll processing reduced from 5 days to 1 day
  • Employees earning overtime reduced from 40 people to just 11 people

All said and done, Election Day ran smoother than ever and everyone on Meghan’s team, as well as the County’s HR department, enjoyed a simpler, easier hiring process.

We look forward to seeing what process Meghan will set her eyes on next!

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View Slides

Success Story Transcript

Tracy: OK. Hello and welcome to another Project Presentation Webinar hosted by GoLeanSixSigma.com. Project Presentation Webinars are where we share stories about successful Lean Six Sigma projects because this is where the rubber meets the road.

I’m Tracy O’Rourke, Managing Partner for GoLeanSixSigma.com. And today, we are highlighting Meghan Taylor and her project presentation is titled – well, we titled it Improving the Hiring Process at LA County. But she’s going to tell you more specifically what the project really is about.

So Meghan, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Meghan: First of all, Tracy, thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be here. I’ve been with the Registrar Recorder for almost four years now. I started off with Photo Records and got promoted last year to Senior Clerk to the Election Operations Center. And my main function is LSS consulting and I’ve become really passionate about it and I love my job. I love process improvement and I love empowering the staff here.

Tracy: Nice. LSS being Lean Six Sigma, right?

Meghan: Exactly, yes.

Tracy: Wonderful. And what’s a little interesting fact about you, Meghan?

Meghan: Well, I love Chelsea Football which is English soccer and I actually met my husband through watching that. And as he says, it’s a little bit different when you met your wife at a pub at 4:00 o’clock in the morning when they’re not even serving anything.

Tracy: Yeah, it’s a little different. Very nice. OK. Wonderful. So, I’m going to let you go ahead and tell us a little bit about what your project is about here at LA County.

Check-In-Center Loading Assistants

Meghan: Well, just a little bit more background for our audience here. We have various functions at Election Operation Center, mostly to distribute the material. So, a couple of weeks before the election, we get all that material out with the help of truck drivers and what was formally called Swampers which we are calling our loading assistants which you can see here.

Tracy: I was wondering what Swampers meant.

Meghan: Yeah. We’ll get to that in a little bit because really, no one knows what that means. And so they’re our main – they’re kind of the lifeblood of the election. Without them getting everything out at the backend, nothing else would happen.

So, they are really critical and we’ve had an issue with shortages because of various issues within the hiring process and just – it’s a short-term assignment. It’s hard to get people to commit to that. So that’s a little bit of background as far as what this whole thing is about.

Tracy: What the problem was that you were going to solve.

Meghan: Yeah.

Tracy: OK. Very nice.


Meghan: So Human Resources itself has various other positions that they’re hiring for, not just for us as at the Election Operations Center. They’re hiring for ballot inspection, they’re hiring for canvass which are various other election-related activities.

Actually, in a discussion yesterday, we found out we hired the most temporary employees out of any department in LA County because of election functions.

Tracy: I bet especially with the last election I bet.

Meghan: Yes. I mean they were hiring people almost on the spot in the lobby because we were just so short of how many people we needed to hire for last election.

Tracy: Yes.

Meghan: So because of that, there are multiple assignments. People from various sections which are what we call kind of our little mini departments here are competing against each other trying – sometimes trying to hire the same people. And that one position which I previously mentioned is the Swamper position, and they’re responsible mainly for loading and unloading the trucks that are going out to our ISP locations which is our inspector ticket the weekend or so or two weeks before the election. And then also, they’re taking those same materials and loading them back on to the truck on election night. So, that’s the main position we’re focusing on here.

Operational Definitions

So just a little bit more operational definition especially on elections we’re going to have quite a few of those. So I already kind of mentioned the Check-In-Centers, that’s the same location that we use on inspector pick-up weekend and then on election night, we dropped off those.

A regional distribution center is also at that same location but they are dispatch out at 4:30 in the morning and they stay there all day just in case something happens, someone needs emergency equipment. And one of our troubleshooters which are reps that are just stationed all throughout LA County just in case something happens in an emergency situation, they can go there and get extra equipment.

Truck driver obviously is one of our drivers who is driving our trucks. And then we also have CIC, Chiefs and Clerks that are assigned at those ISP locations as well as on election night that are in charge of the actual management of that location.

Ten days prior to the election is when we actually have them pick up their supplies and then we also have ePAR which is a personal request. It’s our electronic personal request that we have as well as a stipend which is what we call our pre-set payment amount that’s basically how co-workers right now get paid. It’s a little bit different than a payroll. It’s just a pre-set amount based on the assignment.

Problem (Defect)

So in June especially, we started having a really large issue with hiring because of the large – make sure this election especially the attention that it was getting, we needed a lot of people to help us. But on training itself, we had 73% of the people that we thought we’re going to be coming for this position not even show up.

Tracy: Oh my gosh!

Meghan: And then election night, 44% of those people didn’t show up either.

Tracy: That’s scary.

Meghan: Yes, very much so especially when you’re scrambling around trying to get these people to help at that critical moment. And what we found is that this is a very short-term assignment. This is normally just one day plus training or three days plus training that requires them to go through all of the regular processes of regular employment.

Swamper Recruitment Process (HR) and Swamper Recruitment Process (EOC)

So here’s how our process map specifically for the Human Resources process. There were two different areas; Human Resources and then my area, Election Operations Center, that worked together to get these people hired. So there’s process map as well as our process map in Election Operations Center.

Human Resources has 14 steps and we had 16 steps. And there are two different segmented parts of the process.

Tracy: So they have to go through both processes.

Meghan: Yeah.

Tracy: OK.

Meghan: They basically kind of intersect at some point but there are two different parts to it because there’s the hiring process and then there’s also the assignment process.

Tracy: I see.


Meghan: So based on this lengthy assignment, we had various impacts. The turnout rate as I mentioned for election night, so the people who actually showed up was only 56%. We actually had to recruit from other areas here in Norwalk, at our headquarters. We actually got 19 different people to just – who never driven or been a Swamper before just coming to help us.

Tracy: Just begging basically like, “Please help us.”

Meghan: Something I should have mentioned before, which we’ll go into more detail in a little bit is that the Swampers and the truck drivers are intricately related to each other. So the dispatch time because we were doing more emergency recruitment for driver shortages which would then drips down into our Swampers, we were out an hour later than usual as compared to normally when we get our first trucks out to our North County assignments which are for those of you that are in Southern California, it takes at least two hours without traffic sometimes especially those trucks to get there.

As I said, we had 19 from headquarters, but then we also had 40 of our RDC drivers which were those drivers that were dispatched at 4:30 in the morning who could be potentially working up to 24 hours. Because when we don’t have anyone else to go to, that’s who we can ask to see if they’re willing to work those extra hours so that we can get all that equipment in.

Tracy: Not 24 hours in a row.

Meghan: Yeah, in a row.

Tracy: Wow! OK.

Meghan: And then because of the later dispatch time that affects our closing. So not only are those people getting them later but also, the people who are at our Election Operations Center manning the phones, helping with the closing, and everyone taking in the equipment. That just trickles down further.

So as I mentioned, it was an extensive hiring process for only about 1 to 3-day assignment. They have to go through the Livescan, the I9 Compliance, which a lot of these people don’t have the original documents that it would take off time work to go get an original passport or their birth certificate.

The application itself on the website is pretty lengthy and sometimes they don’t phrase it perfectly to meet the requirements of the position. And as they are running around last minute getting all these documents, sometimes they don’t turn them in until the day of training or maybe the day of the actual assignment itself. And if they show up without it then they’re not able to work.

And the part itself which is that request from Human Resources for the position, if you don’t meet that fulfillment of those positions to begin with, you have to go back and fill out another one. So there’s not any way to hold a spot. If you – if someone is not able to fulfill the requirements of the position to begin with, you got to go back and do another one. So that’s just delays the process even further.

The drivers and the swampers were actually signing in in the same line. And drivers themselves have more requirements because they have to have the H6 document which is basically your DMV record from the last three years. So some of them were turning those in and they’re delaying the line for these swampers who don’t have some of the requirements.

Payroll itself can take quite a long time for just this small amount of position. And then also, you’re pressed to go into overtime as well because of these lengthy assignments not just for our swampers and drivers but also for anyone who had to assist us from the headquarters as well.


So, here goes your question about Swampers. No one really knows where that term came from. And I actually found out that it’s a county-wide term. So we decided since we’re going to be taking over this process, it’s our opportunity to change the name. So, we came up with the name that really fits the assignment which is CIC Loading Assistant because that is really what they are doing.

Tracy: Yeah, because when I think about swamper, I think like black lagoon stuff.

Meghan: Exactly.

Tracy: A picture from the black lagoon. And so, I don’t know if I want to be called a swamper. So, I really like that idea.

Meghan: So, by taking over this hiring process, we’re actually end up recruiting ourselves as the EOC. And instead of an hourly rate, we are talking the same model that has been used for pollworkers for CIC Chiefs and Clerks called Stipend Model.

So, they are paid for that. And then we also take responsibility for tracking the attendants and any payroll as well. So we’re taking that burden off of Human Resources as well for up to 200 people per election.


So we got this. This assignment was related to our Emerging Leaders program here.

Tracy: The Green Belt Project you mean?

Meghan: Yes.

Tracy: OK.

Meghan: So this project was primarily from Emerging Leaders. I’m going to be a taking on to my – to be my Black Belt project actually. But because of the assignment and the nature of it and also how close the election is, we wanted to include a timeline just to show you how quickly we were able to achieve those results because we got this assignment in August and basically had to had everything rolled out ready to go by the end of October.

So in August, we were able to identify the problem and then from there, assembled the project team and so on. Finally named it CIC Loading Assistant in late September, began recruitment in mid-October, finished in just a few weeks from late October and then confirmed attendance for election day for November and then started and finished payroll by December.

So we had a very short timeline in order to get everything done and actually was able to accomplish that, which I’m very proud of them for.

Tracy: Wow! Yeah, you looked at all the maps and everything in early August and like start mapping it at that time saying, “Wow! We really need to make a change in getting some buy-in around that.”

Meghan: Yes. And we were able to get the buy-in right to begin with and then for our executive team here to OK the Stipend Model for this position and then just get rolling with the recruitment because that’s the most labor-intensive part of any project that was like this is trying to get a hold of all those people.

Tracy: Right.


Meghan: So part of my team, Marissa and Mike got with our data scientist here, Benjamin Uminsky, and he crunched some numbers for us based on the actual assignment itself and past elections. And due to there being no taxes taken out from this model, they went with about 85% pay because they’re not going to have that deduction.

So our final recommendation for the 3-day stipend was $575 and then our 1-day stipend went from – to $195 and that’s for our election night only and then the other is for our people who are also working on that weekend before the election for an inspector pick-up.

And that puts us below the threshold for 1099 tax reporting. So hopefully, our – and as long as our recruits don’t do any other type of 1099 work then that keeps them under that threshold for reporting.

Tracy: OK.


Meghan: So it was a huge benefit with us taking over this. Our turnout rate for – was 83% for election night compared to 56% again in that June election. We streamlined the signing process so they didn’t have to go in the driver lane, we were able to just sign in our loading assistants on their own and we were able to dispatch them one hour earlier than we did in June.

Our turnout rate for – was 83% for election night compared to 56% again in that June election.

Our RDC drivers, because again, everything is intricately related here in this position, so drivers not as much as we usually are. But because we had more loading assistants to go to to say, “Hey, do you want to go out driving?” we had more people able to step up to that position and then we had less RDC drivers who are working up to that 24-hour shift. So we only had 11 in November compared to the 40 that we had in June.

And because of that, safety increased. There are less people out there driving after working that long.

Tracy: Yes, that’s great.

Meghan: So we also – by taking ownership of this, we really focused on customer service. We spoke with these recruits at least three times as opposed to one time. And I understand with Human Resources having to recruit for multiple other positions, they’re not able to speak with these people as much not because this was the only people we were recruiting, we touch base with them as much as possible.

And instead of recruiting so far ahead of time, we were able to meet our recruitment goal in four weeks.

Tracy: Instead of four months.

Meghan: Exactly.

Tracy: Wow! That’s great.

Meghan: At training itself, we had an amazing turnout rate of 96%, so almost everyone that we talked to begin with showed up. And the application went from – up around 10 days to just a few minutes. It’s just a one page application.

At training itself, we had an amazing turnout rate of 96%, so almost everyone that we talked to begin with showed up. And the application went from – up around 10 days to just a few minutes.

Tracy: Really? Ten days to a few minutes?

Meghan: Yup. The only requirement is for you to fill out an application and to be a registered voter or a legal permanent resident. That’s it.

Tracy: Wow!

Meghan: And we also found because of this job that applicants were sharing their job within their personal and social network and we were getting a lot of calls to begin with and we were cutting down the amount of people we had to call in the first place. So, social media really helped us out with this as well.

Tracy: That’s great.

Meghan: So payroll itself in the prior model could take around five days. Here, just one day. We use our – the same system that we already have been using and it just requires putting them in the system. So this time, it took maybe a little bit longer because those people were not in the system yet. At this election, probably it will be even faster.

And the training itself, we were able to divide the line based on what they had. So if they were missing certain documentation, they went to one lane. If they had everything, they went to an express lane. Just turn in there. They didn’t even have to sign anything. They just turn the paper. Sit down. If they have more questions, they can meet with the computer so I could look at the information that we had on our Excel file and it answers their questions specifically. So we streamlined that process greatly.

The process itself was finished 45 minutes faster as opposed to the drivers who were in line. And we didn’t have a sign-out process. We just had them turn in their stipend cards, which was the model of how we’re paying them. So we just had their information, their signature just like that, that’s it. That’s how we confirm that they were there in the entire time.

Tracy: Wow!

Swamper Recruitment Process – New Progress

Meghan: So here’s our new process map. It combined both of those recruitment processes from HR as well as our process at EOC into just one process map. And we went from 30 steps to 22. It doesn’t sound..

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The Control Chart Decision Tree provides a visual method of figuring out which Control Chart to use given the data being plotted. The chart begins by asking whether the data is continuous or discrete and continues on either side of the tree with a series of branches based on the sample size or the way defects are being counted. By following the logic of the tree, users can determine the most useful Control Chart.

For a better understanding of the Control Chart Decision Tree and an overview of Lean Six Sigma, check out our Green Belt Training and Black Belt Training.

The post Control Chart Decision Tree appeared first on GoLeanSixSigma.com.

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Today’s special features a woman who left a job at MIT and used big data to launch a farm-to-table food delivery service. Tune in to hear Elisabeth’s interview with Erin Baumgartner, CEO of Family Dinner!

For our Survey Says segment, we get some unexpected results from our “invisible process” poll and for the Printed Page, we’re going back to a Malcolm Gladwell classic to appreciate his techniques for digging to root cause. And for Q&A we’ll answer a forum question about the need for software changes. All this from the GoLeanSixSigma.com Farm to your table!

Also Listen On:
  • 2:00 Survey Says

Poll Time!
  • What is your favorite Lean Six Sigma phase?*
    • Define: Determining which problem to solve
    • Measure: Collecting process data about the problem
    • Analyze: Determining the root cause of the problem
    • Improve: Solving the problem
    • Control: Building structures to hold on to the gains
    *Please select one answer
Thanks for Listening! Listen to more podcasts.

The post Podcast: Just-In-Time Cafe, Episode 55 – Removing Waste and Delivering Fresh Farm Food With Big Data, Featuring Erin Baumgartner appeared first on GoLeanSixSigma.com.

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Lean Six Sigma solves problems by applying tools through a specific process—DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control). This process is not simply a way of organizing the work, but a way to connect the use of the tools to achieve successful results. I call this “connecting the dots” and below illustrates the critical dots and how to connect them. Meet the Dots

The “dots” are specific deliverables—what you create as part of your process documentation. Dots are connected through a thought process that leads from one dot to the next—the output of one dot helps define the way the next dot works. While we can think of every DMAIC deliverable as a dot, I’ll be focusing on the major ones:

  1. Goal Statement
  2. Data Collection Plan
  3. Baseline Performance
  4. Root Cause Identification
  5. Root Cause Confirmation
  6. Solutions to Address Root Cause
  7. Verification of Improvement
  8. Monitoring & Response Plan
Goal Statement

This isn’t simply a declaration of what we are trying to achieve—it drives how we apply the tools. Each of the ensuing dots are driven by the Goal Statement, as well as by previous dots. It clarifies the direction of improvement, along with “from” and “to” values and a target date.

Data Collection Plan

We collect data for two purposes:

  1. To establish (or confirm) baseline performance
  2. To find clues to possible causes

The Data Collection Plan should always measure the performance in terms of the Goal Statement metric. Consider what conditions might make performance vary—by shift, location, day of the week or transaction type. We call these stratification factors and record them as we gather our data. Later we analyze the data to determine which of them makes a difference—differences become clues to root causes. We can collect other information of interest, but process performance over a time period is essential to building the baseline.

Baseline Performance

The process performance is plotted in a Run Chart to show the process performance over time. We normally expect to see a random pattern. Any non-random features, such as trends, cycling, clustering, shifts or extreme high and low points suggest that some cause is acting upon the process. Digging deeper into these patterns can often surface clues to root causes.

If we collected stratification factors, we can sort the data to find performance differences. These can be seen by plotting Box Plots for each value or using an Analysis of Variance (ANOVA).

Root Cause Identification

Analysis of the Baseline Performance will often give us clues to potential root causes. We dig deeper to find what’s behind the data clues. Those clues are not root causes but may signal that they’re nearby. For instance, if you find that there is a difference between the day shift and the night shift, we cannot conclude that the shift is a root cause! Our process is not smart enough to misbehave on certain shifts. Rather, there is something different happening on different shifts—perhaps a somewhat different process. Those differences are either a root cause, or close to it.

Root Cause Confirmation

We work to confirm suspected root causes, either through process observation or data analysis. If the problem we are trying to solve has been around awhile, chances are that others have already tried to solve it—some with great confidence. Long-standing problems, sometimes called hardy perennials, persist because people assumed they knew the cause, but missed the true root cause. We have to confirm the suspected root causes in order to develop solutions with confidence.

To confirm a root cause, we intervene in the process and either temporarily remove the root cause or do something to neutralize its effect. We then run the process for a short time and measure the performance. If it is clearly better, we have confirmed the root cause. If not, we keep looking further.


Once we confirm a root cause, we should consider how to act on what we have learned. Our solutions should always include some action to neutralize a root cause. While we can add anything that makes sense, at least one of the solutions has to be based on a confirmed root cause.


If our solutions are effective, the process performance should prove it. We continue to monitor process performance, extending the the Run Chart from the baseline performance past our solution implementation. Once again, we are measuring the metric targeted in the Goal Statement, and we fully expect to see a favorable shift in performance.

Monitoring and Response Plan

Once we confirm improvement, we need to be sure it lasts, so we continue to measure the performance. We set triggers points—levels to “go no higher than” or “go no lower than”—and take corrective action when the process fails to perform as expected. We should also track leading indicators—input measures or upstream process measures—that signal a problem before it emerges. Acting on leading indicators helps us respond in time to prevent poor process performance.


By keeping the connections between the dots in mind, we can ensure we are using the DMAIC tools to efficiently solve a problem. It also helps us tell our story convincingly with our Storyboard. I look for these when reviewing Storyboards, and often find a few missing “dots.”

The secret to building a successful Storyboard is simple: connect the dots!

The post Build a Better Storyboard by Connecting the Dots appeared first on GoLeanSixSigma.com.

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Looking for expert guidance with a challenge you’re having with your project?

How about a specific tool? Running a statistical test? Ask our Master Black Belts in our new Forum!

For a limited time, we’re opening our Go-Getter Forum up to everyone everywhere! Normally, our Forums are accessible only to our Go-Getter Members to get help with anything Lean Six Sigma related, but now you can access it for free! Join now and you can post questions and replies about…

  • Project help and tool use
  • Leadership and Change Management

Register and start posting your questions today before the free open access closes!

Already a Go-Getter Member or registered for our free Yellow Belt Training? Simply log in and view them here.

How to Register for our Forums

The post Join the Conversation in Our Go-Getter Forums! appeared first on GoLeanSixSigma.com.

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Organizations asked for it—now we’ve got it! We’re proud to introduce our brand new training option for organizations: Enterprise Licensing!

For organizations looking to rollout Lean Six Sigma across their entire company, Enterprise Licensing provides the most unique, value-packed learning experience an organization could want.

Partner with us and get as much—or as little—support as you need to help you succeed. We’ll give you everything you need to easily deploy Lean Six Sigma internally. Our Master Black Belts are available to share their 25+ years of expertise with you to help you overcome any challenges you and your team will face throughout your Lean Six Sigma journey.

With access to the best courses and the ability to register unlimited learners, Enterprise Licensing offers incredible organizational benefits including:

  • Ability to use your own Learning Management System
  • Co-branding courses with company logo
  • 1 year of access (subscription-based)
  • Lower cost per learner
  • Supporting content
  • Waterfall access (get licenses for all courses under the highest level course you license)
  • SCORM and 508 compliance
  • And more!

Excited to learn more about this amazing training option? Let’s talk!

Click here to learn more about Enterprise Licensing and schedule a call, request a quote, or even request a trial to our courses! Not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered. Check out our Lean Six Sigma Kick-off Program here!

The post New Product: Enterprise Licensing appeared first on GoLeanSixSigma.com.

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GoLeanSixSigma.com Black Belt Tyson Simmons project to reduce underwriting package defects and subsequent re-submission demonstrates some great points. His team voted to narrow down potential root causes and noted them with dots on their Fishbone Diagram. Then the big “Oh darn!” When they tested the suspected root causes (analyst and submitter), neither of them proved to be statistically significant.

What do you do when all of your root causes prove to be false? You go back and look for more which is what Tyson did. The red dots on the Fishbone Diagram suggested the next possible root cause, which did prove out. Nice job, Tyson, for sticking with the process and shooting right past your goal!

– Bill Eureka, GoLeanSixSigma.com Master Black Belt Coach

Tyson Simmons is an Operations Analyst Manager at Synovus and a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt. For his Black Belt project, Tyson decided to investigate why so many of their underwritten loans are resubmitted. What was the ultimate result? 20% less resubmits and 40 hours of overtime saved per month!

The Challenge

Tyson knew his resubmission rate was too high, and his team had their suspicions about what might be causing it. But like any great process improvement leader, Tyson didn’t jump to conclusions. Instead, he turned to DMAIC.

He set out with the goal to reduce the rate of loan package resubmits to less than 40%. If he could reduce the amount of resubmits, then his company would save a lot of time, money, and effort wasted on rework.

The Discovery

Tyson started by mapping his process. He created both a SIPOC and “As-is” Process Map to provide him with both a high-level and detailed view of the current underwriting process. He discovered that resubmits only occurred at two decision points at the end of the process, so he asked himself, “how many [resubmits] are getting here and can we stop [them] earlier?”

Tyson came up with a Data Collection Plan, measured their current process, and established baseline data for how their process was performing – finding 55% of underwritten loans were resubmitted for approval! Yikes!

Tyson wanted to determine where else waste lived in this process, so he performed a Value-Add Analysis for both the original underwriting and resubmission process. He found that the resubmission process contained 24% less value-add work than the first pass. What does this mean? Reduce resubmits!

The next for Tyson and his team was to determine the root cause of resubmits. Using a Fishbone Diagram, the team all agreed that analysts and bankers were the problem. Their hypothesis was that loans were resubmitted due to unfavorable results. However, when put to the Hypothesis Test, their theory fell flat. Their best guess was not a statistically significant root cause. Now what?

They changed courses. Tyson revisited their Fishbone Diagram and turned the team’s attention to the next most likely root cause of their high resubmission rate: communication.

After surveying their analysts on the frequency of their communication with bankers, Tyson discovered that the less an analyst communicated with a banker, the more resubmits they received. The team had finally found their root cause.

The Improvements

To find the best solution for this issue, Tyson used an Impact Effort Matrix and Solution Selection Matrix. He determined that the highest-impact, lowest-effort solution was to require bankers to call an analyst before submitting a loan request.

By screening loans over the phone, an analyst could prevent a banker from filing a bad request – reducing the chance of poor results and resubmits.

After developing and implementing this new process step:

  • Resubmits dropped by 20%
  • Overtime was reduced by 40 hours a month
  • Customers are receiving loans faster
  • Bankers and analysts are happier with less rework

Tyson and his team only implemented one additional step in their process, but they were able to achieve incredible results and learn valuable lessons along the way. Their biggest lesson learned? Dig deep and verify your root cause.

Thank you for leading the process improvement charge, Tyson! We can’t wait to see what you do next!

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Executive Summary Business Case

It takes anywhere from 6 to 16 hours to put together a loan underwriting package for our commercial loan group, and 55% of these submissions have to be resubmitted and reworked for one reason or another. Reducing the number of resubmits will reduce the amount of unnecessary and repetitive work, which will in turn reduce the amount of time and money it takes to complete a loan, resulting in better CX and giving the Bank a competitive advantage.

Root Cause Analysis

It was determined that many resubmits were due to unfavorable scores and bankers unaware of what scores to expect. Many of these went through the entire process and then would have to go through the entire process again. We identified a correlation between communication (phone) and resubmits.

Solutions Implemented

Created a phone queue that bankers are required to call right after submission. This call is for the expert analysts to help bankers vet loans, level set on expectations, and catch obvious resubmit causes early before fully underwriting.

Project Results

Resubmits have dropped to 20%, reducing lead time by 13 hours and cycle time by 4 for each resubmit avoided.

Graphical Display of Improvement

Key Take Away: A little bit of time upfront discussing the loan has made a clear impact on resubmits, cycle time, and rework!

Project Charter Problem Statement

Reduce the number of unnecessary resubmits by enhancing the process and identifying solutions for the leading causes for unnecessary resubmits.

Goal Statement

Decrease the Application Resubmit rate from 55% to 40% by 12/4/2018

  • Process Start: Frontline submissions
  • Process End: Underwriting
  • In: Underwriting resubmits, underwriting process high-level, frontline actions and requirement, and queueing systems and tools
  • Out: Scored loans, detailed underwriting process, underwriting tools
Business Case & Benefits

It takes anywhere from 6 to 16 hours to put together a loan underwriting package for our commercial loan group, and 55% of these submissions have to be resubmitted and reworked for one reason or another. Reducing the number of resubmits will reduce the amount of unnecessary and repetitive work, which will in turn reduce the amount of time and money it takes to complete a loan, resulting in better CX and giving the Bank a competitive advantage.

Phase Planned Actual
Define 9/10 – 9/30
Measure 10/1 – 10/31
Analyze 11/1 – 11/16
Improve 11/17 – 11/30
Control 12/1 – 12/4
Team Members
Position Person Time Commitment
Team Lead Peter Simmons 20%
Sponsor Matt 10%
Team Member Robert 20%
Team Member Underwriters 20%

Key Take Away: Everyone is onboard and wants to process loans for our customers faster, and avoid having to follow up and request more docs.

Voice of the Customer

Key Take Away: These aren’t new to the team, but reducing resubmits would help with all 3.


Key Take Away: The main focus of this project is on loans that need to go through this process multiple times.

As-Is Detailed Map Segment

Key Take Away: It surprised the team how many ways loops and people made decisions at the end of the process that went all the way back to the start.

MEASURE PHASE Data Collection Plan

Key Take Away: This grew from when we first created it, as we identified additional measures through the Analyze Phase.

Baseline Data – Project Y

Key Take Away: This chart clearly shows the process is running well above the desired target of less than 40%. (Data before 2018 is omitted due to reliability)

Baseline Data – Resubmit Categories

Key Take Away: Reviewing the categories there are clearly a select few to focus on. This chart drove our MSA.

MSA Results

Key Take Away: Because every loan is different and the process can be done multiple ways, resulting in a resubmit for one analyst and not another, and the amount of time it takes to process a package, we did not conduct an MSA for resubmit yes or no. Instead we focused our MSA on categorizing resubmits. 12 scenarios were printed on index cards and 2 analysts were asked to categorize them to measure reproducibility. We then had them review the same cards in a different order to measure repeatability.

ANALYZE PHASE Value-Add Analysis

Key Take Away: Our analysis showed that the value-add for resubmits is drastically lower than first pass. We need to figure out what is causing them and reduce those resubmits!

Fishbone Diagram

Key Take Away: Our fishbone had a mix of solutions in disguise, symptoms, and ideas for root cause.  Affinity analysis lead us to narrow down our root causes to evaluate.

Fishbone Analysis and 5 Whys

Key Take Away: We took our possible X’s and had to categorize and make them measurable. Our 5 Whys analysis helped us reduce the number to review by identifying several x’s as symptoms of each other.

Process Flow Analysis

Key Take Away: Our current state process flow analysis highlighted two decision points at the very end that caused the whole process to repeat, how many are getting here and can we stop it earlier?

Category Stratification

Key Take Away: To test the theory that many resubmits were because of unfavorable results at the end, that could or should have been identified earlier, we recategorized and stratified the data into two categories; and we saw there was a very high percentage of resubmits that were because of unfavorable results that could of or should of been caught earlier.

Hypothesis Testing Plan

Key Take Away: The group was sure both of these were statistically significant root causes! Glad we showed with testing before fixing the wrong problem! But what now?!


Key Take Away: Since it wasn’t the bankers or the analysts, we decided to revisit the fishbone and look at communication. We surveyed the analysts and we saw there looked to be a correlation between communication and resubmits. Time to test!

Regression Analysis

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Good things come in small packages – that’s why we created Single Modules for you! When you don’t have the time or the need for the entire Green Belt Training, these “one-topic” training modules provide simple, compact alternatives that average about 1 hour. Skill-up and register for a few today!

Single Modules average about 22 slides, they have downloadable templates, each one comes with it’s own certification and each one is worth 1 to 2 PDUs.

Start with the 8 Wastes, find an opportunity and then move on to the A3 to document and share it. When you want to dig a little deeper into the issue you can take the 5 Whys & Fishbone Diagram module. Single modules are also great for providing “Just-In-Time” training for team members or Subject Matter Experts when you need their focused help on a project.

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Who put the “Six” in Six Sigma? Who’s the man behind the first Malcolm Baldrige Award and how did he get so good at betting on race horses?

This year would have marked Bill Smith’s 90th birthday. Mr. Smith is credited with coining the term “Six Sigma” and developing the signature process improvement method while serving as Vice President and Senior Quality Assurance manager for the Land Mobile Products Sector of Motorola in 1986. Within 2 years of the introduction of Six Sigma, Motorola reduced pager defects to less than 3.4 per million opportunities and had won the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. Within a decade they had achieved a five-fold growth in sales, with profits climbing nearly 20 percent per year.

Claims to Fame – What Did He Invent? Six Sigma:

His Six Sigma concept standardized the way defects were counted.

Mr. Smith built on the concepts of the 19th century mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss along with fellow Grand-Daddy of Quality Walter Shewhart to introduce a more exacting method of counting defects. Instead of measuring the number of defects per thousand opportunities, Mr. Smith thought Motorola should hold itself to a higher standard. He recommended setting the goal at just 3.4 defects per million opportunities. This meant a quality level of 99.9997%. He reached this “close to perfection” number based on the normal or “bell curve” distribution of process data.

The improvement process he developed was a TQM spin-off but his goal was establishing it as a way of doing business. Initially the method designed to reach the goal of Six Sigma was defined as MAIC or Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control. This eventually expanded to include the Define Phase resulting in the DMAIC method Six Sigma is known for today. Thus, Six Sigma is a goal, a method and it’s also a philosophy for managing process improvement.

Malcolm Baldrige Award:

Winning the Malcolm Baldrige Award spread Six Sigma worldwide.

If Motorola had been quiet about their accomplishments, the world may never have heard about Six Sigma. Winning the award changed the game since Baldrige Award winners agree to share their quality programs with anyone who is interested. Due to Motorola’s stellar business success, a lot of companies were interested in Six Sigma. This method quickly spread to other organizations and GE, in particular, achieved significant and very public success. Under Jack Welch, Six Sigma is credited with saving $10 billion. Bill Smith passed away too young to see the amazing impact of his ideas, but this method has spread to tens of thousands of companies all over the world and is alive and well over 30 years later!

Little Known Facts:
  • He owned a stable of profitable racing horses
  • He played the organ and his wife played piano with him at home
Bill Smith at the Bahama Bistro: Quote of the Day:
  • “I want the Baldrige Award for our Bahama Mama Smoothies!”
Putting Bill Smith into Action:
  • “Are you making cheeseburgers?”
  • “No – I’m making Six Sigma Burgers!”

Bill Smith is often linked with Mikel Harry who passed away recently, since together they worked to develop the Six Sigma method and the training needed to spread it to employees. Six Sigma has since been aligned with Lean methods and the combination is referred to as Lean Six Sigma. Shortly after his death, Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University established an endowed scholarship in his name. Mr. Smith received an induction into the Six Sigma Hall of Fame posthumously in 2011. His daughter Marjorie Hook, another Six Sigma devotee, received his award. Bill Smith was known for being a great communicator, sharing his depth of knowledge with those around him and reveling in their success. A lovely legacy.

Happy Birthday Bill Smith!

The post Grand-Daddy of Quality: Bill Smith appeared first on GoLeanSixSigma.com.

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