Six Sigma Teams: Effective Meeting Techniques for Effective Teams

Six Sigma practices are extremely effective. Although the statistical tools involved are complex, they provide a clear and useful framework for evaluating company practices. If a product or a procedure deviates from the standard more than a specific number of times, that product or process is inefficient and needs to be improved. This quantitative measure helps companies identify their problems and determine when solutions are working and when they are not. All of these tools come together to create one thing: a satisfactory customer experience that will keep business coming back.

Where some companies fail in their implementation of Six Sigma is training their staff in the basics – how to efficiently work together in teams to apply the Six Sigma principles to existing company procedures and to develop new products and processes that adhere to the standards. In other words, some companies may have a large staff of employees who can interpret Six Sigma data correctly but who do not know how to have an effective meeting in which that data is analyzed in a group setting and solution and plans are developed. Effective meetings are the key to the application of Six Sigma.

How can companies encourage those with Six Sigma training to run better meetings? First, groups should be formed on the basis of Six Sigma certifications. It does not make much sense to have a team of Six Sigma black belts and master black belts led by a Six Sigma Green Belt. Rather, the ideal set up is for a black belt to lead a team of green belts and for the Six Sigma Black Belt to have access to a Six Sigma master black belt who can offer general guidance and oversight of a project as required.

Next, the team leader should focus on giving the team members the tools they need to be effective at the meeting. An meeting agenda should be provided as far in advance as possible so that team members know what to expect, and if a team member is going to be called upon to present any information for the team, they should be given advance notice so they can prepare their notes. At the meeting, the leader should reiterate the agenda and give a framework for how the meeting will function – for instance, two minute presentations with questions at the end or whatever is most suited to the task.

Visuals can increase efficiency during a meeting dramatically. Prepared slides and handouts are great, but it is also helpful to have a white board or other place to write down ideas the group has during brainstorming sessions. It will help move the process along, plus it will serve as a reminder for what was discussed.

Last but not least, black belts should be encouraged by Six Sigma master black belts to follow up with the green belts for feedback on efficiency. This feedback provides valuable insight into how the company can become more efficient internally so it can achieve the Six Sigma goals and provide a better customer experience externally.