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Lean Six Sigma in Not-For-Profits – part 2 May 19th, 2014

Written by Banu Raghuraman, Director of Marketing & Communications (@banudesigns)

The opinions are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of Endeavour.

We continue part 2 of the article here. Click here for part 1.

In the previously mentioned example, LSS suggests that we should never stop challenging status quo, even if that is the easier route. The NFP would have saved so much time and effort with recruitment had they changed the form, one that was so clearly wrong on many levels. LSS provides us with concepts to efficiently track the purpose of, and method to slowly pilot the change. Six Sigma always has a pilot before the changes are implemented to keep the damage in check.

In the example, the “defect” or “waste” in the system was obvious. However, in many cases it may not be. LSS provides us with tools to analyze cause and effect, brainstorm quick wins, and come up with long term solutions and suggestions to allow an NFP to evolve slowly.

LSS uses support from statistical calculations. Popular software used with LSS is Minitab. MS Excel has many basic statistical functions, which are extended in Google Docs.

Though many of the concepts and tools are freely available, it is important they are used to facilitate meetings without bias. Often individuals associated with the process will already have an idea of the solution to their issues; however, perceived notions may not reflect reality. The tools should be used to uncover issues and provide a suitable remedy. LSS is a typical GIGO system i.e. garbage in garbage out, so it is important to keep the data clean and accurate.

Here are some other examples:

  1. Area: Volunteer management (NFP)
    • Issue: High volunteer turnover.
    • Potential LSS tool: Fishbone diagram, Brainstorming
    • Potential Cause: The volunteer managers are multitasking other duties and volunteer orientation may take a lower priority. New volunteers feel confused and unsupported and leave.
    • Suggestion: Spend time mapping out all the resources a new volunteer will need when starting with the organization. Create a volunteer package. Develop an orientation program.
  2. Area: Accountability (NFP and for-profit)
    • Issue: There are always some tasks or requests that we have no idea who to channel to.
    • Potential LSS tool: RACI (Although used specifically for six sigma projects, this can be extended for other needs as well)
    • Suggestion: With the RACI chart, tabulating the SMEs and keeping it handy where everyone can access it will go a long way in triaging the requests through.

As with all other tools and knowledge available, LSS is as good as the person practising it. Starting to use these tools for smaller initiatives and then expanding to bigger projects is a good way to start out. As well, keep in mind that subject matter experts in the industry are also valuable assets.

Disclaimer: Endeavour does not endorse any tools mentioned in this article.

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