Everyone has had something they have neglected doing simply because it’s too hard, and Lean Six Sigma project selection is no different. Many Lean Six Sigma projects never get any traction and stall out because the process of selecting a project is too complex, which makes it difficult for not only the stakeholders involved, but also for the project team. In an effort to reduce the complexity faced by many organizations, Acuity developed a 4 step process on selecting good Lean Six Sigma projects. Not only is the process quick and uncomplicated, it’s also very intuitive and easy to implement. Before you launch your next Lean Six Sigma project, try using this 4 step process and not only will your team benefit, but you will find your stakeholders will be pleased as well. We hope you enjoy this brief video tutorial.


Video Transcript

0:00:10 to 0:00:40 – Introduction to the Project Selection Process

A common challenge that many organizations face is how to select good lean Six Sigma projects to work on. The tendency is to over complicate this process, so what we have done to overcome this is develop a simple to use, four step process to select good Lean Six Sigma projects to work on. So let’s take a few minutes to go through a quick tutorial of this four step process, then I’ll circle back with you and share with you on how we arrived at this process.

0:00:41 to 0:04:47 – Project Selection Tutorial

Section 1

As you identify potential Lean Six Sigma projects, the first step is to select key improvement areas in the business that will drive key performance indicators or KPIs, strategy, and improve customer satisfaction. The next step is to brainstorm potential projects. Once this is complete, you will need to prioritize your potential projects. And, lastly, you will need to select projects by consensus of business leaders. These will become your active Lean Six Sigma Projects.

Section 2

Let’s take a deeper look at project identification. What makes a good Lean Six Sigma project? We recommend utilizing a simple grid when evaluating potential Lean Six Sigma projects.

In your evaluation, we recommend:

  • On the Y-axis, evaluating the business or customer impact the project has, utilizing the criteria: low, medium or high.
  • On the X-axis, assessing your current understanding of how to solve the problem for the project, utilizing the criteria: low, medium or high.

When utilizing this grid, generally four main solution categories emerge.

  • The first project category is: “Why bother?” This is where you have a low criteria rating for business and customer impact and a low criteria rating for understanding of how to solve the problem. In this example, we say “Why bother? Why even do this type of Lean Six Sigma project?”
  • The next type of project is called “Boiling the Ocean.” This is where you have a low understanding on how to solve the problem and you have a high impact on the customer or business. The challenge with this type of project is it’s relatively large, meaning you’re boiling the ocean. It’s a very big endeavor. If this is the case, we recommend trying to break up the project into multiple improvement opportunities.
  • The next type of projects are the opportunities that we call “Looking Good.” This is where you have a general understanding of how to solve the problem and you have a good business or customer impact. These are usually great Lean Six Sigma projects.
  • And the final category of project opportunities are “Just Do It.” These are also called “Quick Wins.” For these you already know the answer to the problem and it has a business or customer impact; therefore, do you need to apply a full Lean Six Sigma methodology such as DMAIC to solve this problem? Why not “just do it”.

Section 3

Now that you have identified your list of potential Lean Six Sigma projects, your next step is to prioritize the list of potential projects.

In doing this, we recommend utilizing two criteria in your evaluation process:

  • The financial impact the project has – low, medium and high
  • And the project’s impact on key business drivers – low, medium and high

Once you’ve placed all the projects on the grid, we recommend also rating them using a color-coded system. In your rating, you can rate them as:

  • A high potential Lean Six Sigma opportunity
  • A potential Lean Six Sigma opportunity
  • And, a low potential Lean Six Sigma opportunity

Once this is complete, your next step is to develop the project charters for those high potential Lean Six Sigma opportunities.

Section 4

Now that you have prioritized your potential Lean Six Sigma projects, the next step is to select the projects you plan to move forward on. In doing this, you also need to assign Black Belts and/or Green Belts to manage the selected projects.

0:04:48 to 0:05:51 – An Example of a Complex vs. Simple Project Selection Process

It is really easy to fall into the trap of developing a complex project selection process, I know this first hand. At one point in time in my career I was managing a large Lean Six Sigma deployment and in its early stages we developed a really complex process for project selection. And what we quickly learned through feedback from our stakeholders is the process was way too cumbersome and it took way too long. So with this feedback we went back to the drawing board and developed a simple to use process which were the 4 steps that we outlined. With this simple process, our stakeholders came back to us and said, “You know what? It’s easy for us to submit ideas for improvement and the overall project selection process and the timeline to complete it is much quicker” which made them happy. So my encouragement to you is to utilize this simple process for project selection and in the end you will make your stakeholders happier and you will yield good projects to work on.

To learn more:

Lean Six Sigma White Belt Certification
Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt Certification
Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification
Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Certification
Master Black Belt Certification


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