DOI

10.5703/1288284317339

Abstract

1. Purpose

The purpose of this study was to explore lean leadership within Lean Six Sigma (LSS). The objective of this paper was to explore how LSS program success might be improved by focusing Black Belt efforts on mentoring Green Belts with a servant leadership model. The importance of Green Belt projects is typically overlooked in the literature. The effects of prioritizing the development of Green Belts and building a culture of continuous improvement over the traditional Black Belt project focus is explored.

2. Design/Methodology/Approach

The methodology of this paper is inspired by the authors’ field experiences in managing LSS strategies and due to the limited literature, is descriptive, rather than empirical. This study includes a review of management and LSS journal articles from the major management science publishers and a synthesis of findings based upon an operations management theory-building approach for proposing a LSS servant leadership model.

3. Findings

We propose a Servant Leadership Framework for LSS which includes: building trust, prioritizing Green Belt development ahead of personal project goals, prioritizing culture building over project results, Black Belt focus on managing Green Belts, and the inclusion of non-financial projects.

4. Research Limitations/Implications

This study is limited to the theoretical nature of the work, where the methods are limited to the specific research concepts, lacking external validity.

5. Practical Implications

The practical implication is a shift in approach, from developing Black Belts for project leadership and tool mastery, to coaching, culture building, people leadership, and leading the closure of more, smaller projects.

6. Value

The value of this paper is a proposed model for lean Leadership within LSS roles; a model which has been observed to produce superior results. This approach may be of interest to LSS researchers and practitioners at all levels.

Research Keywords: Lean, Human Development, Six Sigma, Green Belt

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Improve Outcomes in Lean Six Sigma with Servant Leadership

1. Purpose

The purpose of this study was to explore lean leadership within Lean Six Sigma (LSS). The objective of this paper was to explore how LSS program success might be improved by focusing Black Belt efforts on mentoring Green Belts with a servant leadership model. The importance of Green Belt projects is typically overlooked in the literature. The effects of prioritizing the development of Green Belts and building a culture of continuous improvement over the traditional Black Belt project focus is explored.

2. Design/Methodology/Approach

The methodology of this paper is inspired by the authors’ field experiences in managing LSS strategies and due to the limited literature, is descriptive, rather than empirical. This study includes a review of management and LSS journal articles from the major management science publishers and a synthesis of findings based upon an operations management theory-building approach for proposing a LSS servant leadership model.

3. Findings

We propose a Servant Leadership Framework for LSS which includes: building trust, prioritizing Green Belt development ahead of personal project goals, prioritizing culture building over project results, Black Belt focus on managing Green Belts, and the inclusion of non-financial projects.

4. Research Limitations/Implications

This study is limited to the theoretical nature of the work, where the methods are limited to the specific research concepts, lacking external validity.

5. Practical Implications

The practical implication is a shift in approach, from developing Black Belts for project leadership and tool mastery, to coaching, culture building, people leadership, and leading the closure of more, smaller projects.

6. Value

The value of this paper is a proposed model for lean Leadership within LSS roles; a model which has been observed to produce superior results. This approach may be of interest to LSS researchers and practitioners at all levels.

Research Keywords: Lean, Human Development, Six Sigma, Green Belt