An Alumni View with Black Belt graduate Michael Mc Keon, Teagasc

We are continuing our series of interviews with Alumni by speaking with Michael Mc Keon, Regional Pig Specialist Advisor with Teagasc. Michael shares his insights into Lean Sigma and we hope you find his experience useful.



To start you might just fill us in on how you came to undertake your Lean Sigma education with us?

I previously had a small introduction to Lean Practice on a MBA course, which I found very interesting. I then entered your Lean Green Belt course when the opportunity arose. On completion of this, I wanted to further develop some of the tools that we were introduced to so therefore I progressed onto the Black Belt

Since graduating from your Lean Sigma Course how have you applied Continuous Improvement and what was most beneficial?

Yes, I frequently use the DMAIC as a structured approach to problem solving. The practice of the using this methodology on the course and also the experience of using the analytical software, has being of great benefit to my work life. In many work situations when faced with a complex problem the temptation is to jump quickly to a diagnosis and therefore solution without properly defining the problem and gathering the requisite data. The use of DMAIC instills a discipline to go through the logical steps and hopefully then unearth the core problem, data and correct solution. Another useful methodology is the use of the ‘8 waste management’. It can be implemented at a relatively superficial level or at a much deeper level depending on the situation and is a very valuable process to drive efficiency and improve the organization’s sustainability.

What areas have you found to be most difficult to deal with in your Continuous Improvement journey?

The biggest challenge for continuous improvement is allocating time to be able to investigate new ideas or methods to implement/problem solve. It is very easy to continue to do things the same way because you don’t have time to consider a better way. It require self –discipline to make the time necessary, which will then hopefully improve performance in the longer term.

Have you see any significant change in the application of Lean Sigma over the last 3 to 5 years?

I think the biggest change is that Lean is becoming more widely used and recognized as more people get Lean training. This makes it easier to introduce lean programs/ concepts to fellow colleagues and clients as the participants are already starting with a baseline awareness of Lean

If you were to reinforce one key point you have taken from the classes you attended what would it be?

I think if you use value stream mapping properly you will reap the benefits and get real insight and thereby efficiencies from the process. Taking sufficient time to consult with colleagues/clients to tease-out the intricacies of the particular process, will uncover improvements and deliver real rewards

Is there anything extra you feel would be beneficial to the readers?

It is an excellent course and I would highly recommend it. The course will stretch and challenge you, but the help and guidance from Mark and the other tutors is excellent. An unexpected benefit was learning from my classmates who came from a wide variety of professional backgrounds.  Their insight and experience during class discussions and problem-solving tasks was an unforeseen bonus of the course.


Thank you Michael this was very informative.  It is great to see Lean Sigma being embraced in so many sectors currently.  Best of luck on your continuing journey.

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