Recently we asked Susan Barrett, Continuous Improvement & Projects Executive with Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind to share her thoughts on Lean Sigma. Susan started her journey in 2016 and still applies the principles learned today.
To start you might just fill us in on how you came to undertake your Lean Sigma education with us.
When I joined Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind in 2016, I completed a White Belt with some of my colleagues. In 2017, I completed a Yellow Belt and then a Green Belt in 2021. While working in the Finance Department, we would have always strived to make improvements – even small ones! I am always on the look out for ways to improve processes.
Since graduating from your Lean Sigma Course how have you applied Continuous Improvement and what was most beneficial?
Over the last 6 years since beginning my Lean journey I have applied the tools and skills that I have learned both on the Stockil courses that I have undertaken in addition to the practical skills that I have learned. Learning how to approach a project by using a DMAIC or DMADV decision tree, using a problem and goal statement and following the project approach. The tools that I have learned are very useful as they are an excellent guide in how to run an improvement project.
What areas have you found to be most difficult to deal with in your Continuous Improvement journey?
I think that we can all be afraid of change. We as humans are more comfortable in doing things as they always have been done. Getting everybody on board with Lean can be challenging, but I think guiding and not overwhelming people is one of the keys to success. It is easier to get people on board if there is a shared goal resulting in success.
Have you see any significant change in the application of Lean Sigma over the last 3 to 5 years?
COVID has certainly changed the way a lot is done. We have been forced to change in many ways which I think can be a positive. For instance, moving to an almost paperless finance department and working remotely. I think that Lean is becoming more popular outside of manufacturing and is being applied more and more in the service industry. The advantages in application in the service industry are certainly being discussed more and more.
If you were to reinforce one key point you have taken from the classes you attended what would it be?
Not to jump to a solution! It is a natural reaction to think of a problem and immediately jump to a solution. It is important to look and the problem and goal statement and then consider all ideas and possible solutions before settling on one.
Thank you Susan for those insights.
Our Yellow, Green and Master Black Belt classes for Semester one are full as we publish. Keep an eye on www.springboardcourses.ie at the end of September to apply for our February intakes .