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Using Lean Six Sigma in Your Company

Lean Six SigmaLean Six Sigma. It sounds daunting, doesn’t it? Here’s the secret. It’s not.

If you’re sitting in the middle of a project and you’re stuck there are tools that will help you get unstuck.

I’ve used Lean Six Sigma tools in a marketing agency and the tools helped tremendously with gathering requirements, workflow issues, project and process streamlining, and getting to the root of a problem.

There are tools that will help you:

  • define and prioritize
  • measure performance
  • analyze root cause
  • control the process
  • plan and implement

Of course, you need someone who knows what tools to use and when to use them. That’s why I’m here.

The Germans Won the World Cup – Team Trumps a Superstar

Johann Lohrmann Digital Strategy Germany Wins World Cup

Germany works together to win the World Cup in July 2014.

The Brazil 2014 World Cup features two giants: Argentina vs. Germany.

Argentina is Lionel Messi. Fans expect Messi to surpass soccer legend Diego Maradona. Messi is Argentina’s anointed one.

Germany is a team of talented players. Their strategy is to grind their opponents into submission. On July 13, 2014 Germany does exactly that and wins 1-0. Germany doesn’t depend on one person to score. They play as a team throughout the World Cup Tournament.

Germany’s final goal comes from 22-year old substitute, Mario Götze.

It turns out, we can learn a lot from how the Germans played. Not one person on the German team seeks the glory. There isn’t one superstar. They hoist the World Cup because everyone works together.

In business it’s easy to seek the superstar. It’s exciting and maybe it can payoff in the short-term – if you’re lucky. But, it won’t work as a the long-term solution.

The most successful projects are a team effort: strong work ethic, buy-in to the workflow process, and complimentary skills.

Here’s How to Stop Wasting Money on Your Website Projects.

1. Understand precisely what benefit your client offers their customer. If you don’t get this, you might as well quit right now. Spell it out clearly in a meeting. Write it down. Memorize it.

2. Stakeholders. Not all stakeholders are created equal. Does the account manager really need to be in the room while you’re in project planning mode and talking tech?

3. Know exactly what the project is. List out every deliverable. If it’s a report, that’s a deliverable.

4. Keep track of your expenses. Attach a number, a dollar, or a percentage to every activity. Expenses are not just in dollar form.

5. Write the requirements down. Don’t be one of those agencies that casually approaches the gathering of requirements. Requirements are a map for your project. Would you book a partial trip and say you’ll “wing it” once you get close? No, you wouldn’t. Your wife would divorce you.

6. Plan with the end in mind. Work backward from the time the project is finished to the planning.

7. List the tools you’ll use to build the website. Are you cloning a website? What tools will you use? Writing copy? What tools will you use to create, edit, and deliver to the client for review? Are you using a CMS? Have you and your team ever used that particular CMS before?

8. Don’t just take an automatic 10% off. Your clients are paying you for work. You’re charging them for the work. Not because they’re such nice people.

9. Don’t mix up a strategy and a tactic. Strategy is a map. A tactic is the tool. For example, moving across country from Atlanta to San Francisco means you’ll need a strategy. A flight is the tool you use to get you there.

10. Answer the legal questions first and then begin the build. Don’t get ambushed or be afraid of tackling legal questions. There are people who enjoy that sort of thing.

11. Hire project managers who are insightful, intelligent, and skilled. Ask specific questions about their projects. Dig.

The Business of Key Performance Indicators

The price of light is less than the cost of darkness. – Arthur C. Nielsen

Agencies struggle with managing their KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). Here’s why KPIs are so important to your company.

Reason #1 KPIs are the pulse of your project.

Key Performance Indicators are numbers. These numbers indicate whether or not your project is on track.

A strong KPI consists of the following:

  • Number (#)
  • Percentage (%)
  • Dollar ($)

In the agency world you want to create a KPI that impacts the bottom line.

Reason #2 KPIs save your agency money, time, and resources because you’re forced to focus on work that matters.

When a KPI is attached to the bottom line the tasks become clear. How? Everything you do is driven toward a number, a percentage or a dollar.

For example, if I tell Joseph to update the eCommerce catalog but the directions he’s given are piecemeal and unclear what do you think will happen to the eCommerce catalog? What type of eCommerce catalog will he produce?

Most likely it will be a waste of your time, your company’s money, and your resources. And Joseph will have wasted his time as well.

Here’s some examples of waste in an agency environment taken from a Lean Six Sigma perspective:

Type of Waste in Lean Six Sigma Symptom Examples of Waste in an Agency Environment
Transportation Unnecessary movement Moving images and files to different libraries with different naming conventions.
Inventory Overproducing Producing more content (copy, images, video) than what the requirements demand.
Motion Inappropriate sitting Content “sits” for a week without any one checking to see what the status is.
Waiting Delivery failure Waiting on images to be delivered so they can uploaded and then alt tagged. (Typically, multiple projects are in backlog.)
Over-Processing Performing unnecessary processing steps Outsourcing eCommerce work to a third-party. The third-party then produces multiple image sizes where one size was required.
Over-Production Producing more work or producing earlier Database information is beyond either the scope of the project or additional client requests.
Defects Rework Images are the incorrect size for the flash banner ads.

Johann Lohrmann Business KPIs Chutes LaddersOne symptom of not having clear KPIs is poor process flow.
It’s not “Chutes and Ladders.”

A strong process flow shouldn’t be a maze.

Here’s a (very simple) sample flow I use when building out a digital strategy for a website.

Johann Lohrmann Digital Strategy KPIs

Get your KPIs firmly established. Then, create the tasks.

Reason #3 Your KPIs influence the metrics and the analytics.

If you don’t know what the numbers are how will you know whether or not your work was successful? It’s the equivalent of covering up your car’s speedometer and guessing how fast you’re going.

Your clients want to know the numbers. They deserve to know. Choose your KPIs wisely and let them guide you.

Definitions

  • A KPI is a metric directly related to a business goal. It is actionable.
  • A metric quantifies performance.

Avoiding Drift and Neglect

Avoid Drift and Neglect

Avoid Drift and Neglect by Setting Goals

Every morning I get up and Read the rest of this entry

A Massive Problem Requires A Massive Solution

Massive SolutionIf you have a large problem in your business a piecemeal solution will not work.

Small tasks won’t solve big problems. Massive problems require massive action.

  • If you’ve neglected your website, then it will require massive action to get that website back in shape.
  • If you’ve neglected your customers, it will require massive action for you to either acquire new customers or to connect with your former customers.
  • If you’ve neglected to create a digital strategy for your company or for your clients, it will require massive action to execute the digital strategy. There’s the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.

Digital Strategy solves complex business and marketing problems. The solutions are  holistic. It’s a chessboard. That’s how problems are solved. This is what a digital strategist does. This is what I do.

June 6, 1944

A few years ago I had the privilege of interviewing World War II veterans for a documentary that aired on a local PBS station. One solider survived the Battle of the Bulge. One landed on Read the rest of this entry

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