We struck a conversation with Melvin Dela Pena who recently earned a Certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt credential. Melvin is the Continuous Improvement Manager of a premium home appliance manufacturer with operations in the Philippines. We asked his reflections on how his team successfully delivered the project benefits. Read on to gain insights on how to overcome project challenges and valuable advice to aspiring Lean Six Sigma practitioners.
What’s your motivation in completing your project?
Being a Continuous Improvement (CI) practitioner, it is but fitting that I acquire at least a Black Belt certification for improved credibility when taking consultations for the Yellow and Green Belts, but more than that, it is the actual application of the structured approach on a company-wide level that excites me when doing Black Belt (BB) projects, especially knowing how much it will impact our employees and their working environment. Lean Six Sigma for me is best applied primarily for the benefit of the people, with the benefit for the company only second.
What difficulties did you face and how did you overcome it?
Data collection has always been the difficult part, especially when the topic is sensitive and confidential. Also, when it takes several months to acquire them and see if it improved or not.
But the hardest part is implementing changes based on the initial data. Some barriers needed to be broken, with some departments resisting the changes. It takes time, but with enough data and maturity, everything can be laid down in place.
What are your next steps to continue your practice of Lean Six Sigma?
As a Black Belt, I will need to be the lead in training our internal Yellow Belts, and also as a coach to the current and aspiring Green Belts. I also aim to do more projects and level-up to Master Black Belt level.
What advice do you give to aspiring Green/Black Belts?
Keep in mind that Lean Six Sigma is all about structure. It doesn’t matter how great your improvements are if they were not developed through a proper structured problem-solving approach. Everything must link with each other. With just one item not falling in its place, the credibility of the project can be compromised, and the effectiveness can be diminished. Do everything as a team, because no matter how gifted you are, you cannot change the world alone.
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