The following are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) on Change Leadership™, Six Sigma, Lean, and the services offered by Pivotal Resources. Simply click on a question to see the answer, and click on the question again to close the answer box.
Pivotal Resources Overview
What does Pivotal Resources do for its clients?
We help organizations solve difficult problems, manage their business more intelligently, and become better able to lead change on an ongoing basis. We call our system Change Leadership™ because it addresses many of the most critical solutions to help a business lead, organize and execute change—from simple, everyday solutions to major projects or change initiatives like Lean Six Sigma.
Do you do the work or train the people?
Both! Our first role is one of advisor to our clients to help clarify their needs and the best approach to meeting them. Then we may work directly on their problems, or we may provide training and coaching in a variety of areas that build change capability and deliver results.
How do you help clients determine their needs and the right services for them?
By asking questions and exchanging ideas. We have an initial discussion with every potential client (and current clients, as their needs evolve) to define the nature of their issues and why they think Pivotal Resources might be of help. Often, this informal discussion is sufficient, but we may also do more extensive assessments to really clarify the nature of the challenge(s) and best approach to addressing them.
In what types of companies or industries do you have experience?
We have very broad base of clients in nearly every industry—from financial services and high tech to mining and retail. We find the diversity of our experience helps us learn and understand your needs more quickly—and helps us see issues and opportunities that firms focused in your industry may not. Obviously, we need to appreciate the issues, challenges and vocabulary of your business; but as our client list suggests, we’re pretty good at that! See more on our industry experience here.
How do you ensure your services pay off for your clients?
The first step is to make sure we’re focused on the right objectives and the right services. Then we evaluate our work in-progress—for example: Is each step in a consulting engagement proceeding as planned? Are workshop participants understanding and enjoying the training? Most importantly, we assess the end results from several perspectives. These may include:
- Client assessment/feedback – As a partner with most of our clients, we put high priority on their evaluation of our support and services: Are we meeting our commitments? Are we providing the insights they expected? Have we been responsive and flexible? Etc.
- Business impact – This addresses the broader capability and strategic impact we’re had on the organization. For example: Are leaders starting to ask better questions, set more effective priorities? Has the return on the “change portfolio” improved? Is the organization better at working cross-functionally?
- Project results – Are goals being met to speed up cycle time, improve service, cut costs, eliminate rework, establish better measures, build better leadership? You can see some examples of results achieved in our Clients section.
Consultants & Locations Served
How can Pivotal support my company's operations in various parts of the world?
Some of our most successful and satisfied clients are global companies, whom we serve on every continent. In addition to major countries such as China, India, Germany, the UK and many others, we’ve responded to special client needs for support and training in Vietnam, Kuwait, Hungary and the Bahamas. Our global vision—One World, One Pivotal—promises consistent support, expertise and client focus to help your organization thrive in any corner of the globe. See more under Global Reach.
What is the goal of the Change Leadership™ system?
Simply, it focuses on helping companies become better at change and improvement. That may involve very short-term objectives, such as solving a current problem or streamlining a critical process. It may also include building better leadership skills and/or organizational structures to ensure more effective change capability over the long term. The specific goals are determined by each client—though we would hope companies would balance short- and long-term goals whenever possible.
Does it apply to change efforts – not to current operations?
It’s relevant and beneficial to both: For example, we help clients identify immediate issues in their operations and find quick ways to fix them. Or we may help a business narrow the range of change projects, which can reduce pressure and allow people to focus on their “regular work.” Our Business Process Management services also emphasize understanding and measuring current operations so you have a better idea how they’re performing. Effective change and strong execution are tightly linked.
Why is Change Leadership™ important... and what makes it different?
The importance of Change Leadership™ can be witnessed every day in the tales of companies fighting to get, or stay, ahead. Very few companies remain “on top” for very long any more because the factors that help them win are usually erased by shifting tastes, competing products, commoditization, emerging technologies, and so on. If change is the one constant, then being good at change becomes the one constant that can help your business adapt and thrive. Change Leadership™ is different from other approaches to business change and improvement for three key reasons:
- Breadth. Just as an automobile needs a driver, an engine and wheels, organizations that drive change need leaders, processes and the knowledge to get things done. Change Leadership™ uniquely can evaluate and help enhance your capability in all these areas—and can link them under a consistent vision the fits your business strategy and challenges.
- Flexibility. Change Leadership™ doesn’t follow a strict formula, for the simple reason that each business has different priorities, strengths and goals. The ability to “mix and match” and tailor services means we can focus on your most critical needs, provide significant value and build/adapt the solutions as you achieve results and build organizational knowledge.
- Effectiveness. Change Leadership™ is based on the expertise and solutions that Pivotal has provided successfully to companies worldwide.
You have been a successful Lean Six Sigma consulting firm... Do you still do that?
Lean Six Sigma
What is Six Sigma?
There are three basic ways to define Six Sigma:
- A statistical measure of the performance of a process or a product
- A goal that reaches near perfection for performance improvement
- A System of management to achieve lasting business leadership and world-class results
Six Sigma is a smarter way to manage, putting the customer first and using facts and data to drive better solutions. Companies that can consistently apply these methods and tools are much better prepared to use change as a core competency of their operations. Six Sigma efforts target a variety of critical business objectives:
- Improving customer satisfaction
- Accelerating process cycle times and time-to-market
- Reducing defects
- Controlling variation and improving predictability
- Reducing costs – without “unintended consequences”
- Improving end-to-end process management and measurement
Improvements in these areas usually represent dramatic financial benefits to businesses, as well as opportunities to retain customers, capture new markets, and build a reputation for top-performing products and services. For a simple but thorough explanation of Six Sigma, we recommend reading What is Six Sigma?
Is Six Sigma right for my organization?
Embarking on Six Sigma begins with a decision to change. The starting point is to realize that there is a better way to run your organization. Although many questions need to be answered before determining a company’s readiness, here are some steps to give you an idea of what’s involved:
1. Assess the outlook and future path of the business
• Is the strategic course clear for the company?
• Are our chances good for meeting our financial and growth goals?
• Is the organization good at responding effectively and efficiently to new circumstances?
2. Evaluate your current performance
• What are our current overall business results?
• How effectively do we face and meet customer requirements?
• How efficiently are we operating?
3. Review systems and capacity for change and improvement
• How effective are our current improvement and “change management” systems?
• How well are our cross-functional processes managed?
• What other change efforts or activities might conflict with or support a Six Sigma initiative?
For an in depth explanation, we recommend reading The Six Sigma Way.
What is Lean?
The basic idea behind Lean is that anything that doesn’t add value to the customer is waste. Lean initiatives apply innovative tools and iterative continuous improvement to processes so that waste and cycle time can be eliminated, and flexibility can be optimized. Typical Lean efforts examine the route a product or service takes to get to the customer, the handoffs involved, the errors corrected and the delays encountered.
Lean methods were pioneered in the automotive industry and first applied coherently as the “Toyota Production System.” They have since been adapted to many industries and today Lean methods are being used with significant results even in service and transactional businesses.
How do I determind if Lean Six Sigma is right for my organization?
In most cases, this is not really an “either-or” question. Some types of problems or goals lend themselves to a more Lean-inspired approach, while others are a better fit for what might be called a “Six Sigma” method. In reality, both Six Sigma and Lean use many common tools and ultimately your organization will probably want to have abilities to integrate the two. What is important is that these two methodologies can be applied together (“Lean Six Sigma”) for focused and faster results.
We have had a TQM or continuous improvement program for several years… how would Lean Six Sigma add value?
Lean Six Sigma incorporates many of the same concepts and tools you might be familiar with from Total Quality or similar initiatives. In addition to helping “rejuvenate” these existing skills, Six Sigma and/or Lean usually offer a higher level of discipline while also integrating customer- and data-focused methods into day to day management. In fact, one of the biggest advantages many companies find from Six Sigma is that it’s owned by business leaders, not the “Quality Department.” In addition, the tools and skill are usually much more diverse, for example, incorporating process design and redesign (aa reengineering) as well as rapid problem solving methods. Finally, Six Sigma focuses on meaningful, measurable results as the primary criterion for success. That’s a big reason companies adopting Six Sigma have usually found the benefits far surpass those achieved from earlier initiatives For a thorough explanation of the advantages of Six Sigma, we recommend reading The Six Sigma Way. For more information on the tools and methods used in Six Sigma and Lean, you may want to look at The Six Sigma Way Team Fieldbook.
Deploying Lean Six Sigma
How do I go about implementing Lean Six Sigma in my organization?
Pivotal uses a Four-phased approach to guide the implementation of Six Sigma, Lean or similar business improvement initiatives: Orientation, Preparation, Roll-out and Integration. The emphasis is on designing an implementation approach that best fits your organization, while building on the lessons we and many of our clients have learned in building these capabilities and achieving results.
How different is training at a company-wide level compared to classes for individuals?
“Public” workshops are the right alternative for those who are funding their own personal development or when you have small numbers of people to be trained. Pivotal offers options for this audience through our Individual and Small Group training. For most of our clients, however, “private” sessions prove to be a much better investment. Not only is the cost per participant usually lower (even for groups as small as six people), but also the content, project work and discussions can be focused on issues and techniques that are most relevant to your business.
How long does Green Belt and Black Belt certification typically take?
Depending on the needs of your business, Pivotal uses either a Phased or Integrated approach. The Phased approach is broken up into two sessions: a 2-week “Core” DMAIC course for both Green Belt and Black Belt candidates; and a 6-day “Advanced” analytical skills workshop for Black Belts only. The Integrated approach is a 3-4 week DMAIC course that incorporates process change and analytical skills. Find more information on our Black Belt training (here) and Green Belt training (here).
Does Pivotal provide project coaching and support?
Yes, to enhance project results and reinforce learning, Pivotal offers coaching to project teams, Black Belts and Master Black Belts. Coaching support can be arranged on-site or remotely. More information on coaching can be found here.
Qualification & Certification
What is the difference between Qualification & Certification?
Qualification is an indication of one’s comprehensive knowledge of Lean Six Sigma concepts, which is evaluated by taking a written exam. Certification includes all of these elements in addition to the proven ability to apply DMAIC tools to practical business issues, which are evaluated through real-life DMAIC projects.
What are the requirements to become a Qualified/Certified Green Belt or Black Belt?
At both Green Belt and Black Belt levels becoming Qualified involves taking a written exam (Core Skills Exam for Green Belt; Core Skills and Advanced Exam for Black Belt). In addition to the exam(s), becoming Certified requires applying knowledge to real-life business projects. Projects requirements and other program certification details can be found here.
Is training through Pivotal Resources required in order to become Qualified or Certified?
Our assessment process is available to anyone who feels they have the necessary knowledge and experience to receive recognition as a Green Belt or Black Belt. If you have received training elsewhere, or have had the opportunity for extensive on-the-job learning, you may be a good candidate to seek Pivotal’s Certification. However, please be aware that our criteria for either level include more than just “tool knowledge,” and covers such topics as team management, project selection, and basic Six Sigma and Lean business concepts. If you have further questions, please contact us.
What work experience is required to become Certified?
Candidates must possess the necessary experience to properly apply the methodology to certification project requirements. However, there is no specific amount of work experience required to become certified. More information on project requirements can be found here.
Conducting Kaizen Events
What is a Kaizen Event?
A Kaizen event is essentially a structured, usually multi-day working session focused on developing workable solutions to targeted business problems/opportunities. It relies extensively on the knowledge and experience, as well as the creativity and practical capability, of the participants in the event. It also demands active involvement from sponsoring business leaders who must be willing to provide quick answers to the Kaizen group’s recommendations. Find more info on Kaizen Events here.
What are Kaizen event’s objectives?
Generally there are three distinct objectives for a Kaizen event:
- Develop a solution for the specific performance gap or problem.
- Identify metrics that will be used to quantify and track results from the solution.
- Prepare qualified client personnel to facilitate future Kaizen events.
To understand what process and aganda will be applied, click here.
What are the advantages of e-learning over a live classroom?
E-learning can never completely replace the interactive experience between instructors and participants. However in cases of high-level learning for large audiences, e-learning can be the most effective and practical approach. Our nLighten™ course is a tool designed to teach the basics of Six Sigma to large groups that is accommodating to busy schedules and dispersed locations. More information on nLighten can be found here.
Does Pivotal offer any support tools for participants in its training courses?
Oaktree™ is an online reference tool designed to support Black Belts, Green Belts and Champions through their DMAIC projects. Equipped with a database of over 120 tools its function is to help guide users through the DMAIC process by providing examples and recommended solutions. More information on Oaktree can be found here.