Every organization has large problems to solve which are managed by Project Leaders and their teams who work hard to come up with impressive solutions. What they often find however, is their proposed solution has turned into a “big, hairy project”.

When beginning a Lean Six Sigma project, it is easy to start out with the intent to develop version 10, or what I call the ultimate solution, which inherently comes with a tremendous price tag and timeline. This is when a project typically starts looking a bit hairy and the team struggles with how to tackle it. The best project leaders I’ve worked with handle these situations by breaking down the Lean Six Sigma project into phases and leveraging an MGPP, or Multi-Generational Project Plan. This simple tool allows you to get results quicker, learn from your results, and then grow from what you have learned.

I recently experienced the “big, hairy project” syndrome with a client when I was coaching their Design for Six Sigma leaders who were working on a large project for their company. The conversation started with “We need to implement this…”. “This” was a fancy solution with lots of bells and whistles that would solve all of their problems. The team however could not get buy-in from their executive leaders because it would take years to get there and required an enormous budget. Given the executive resistance, I had them look at their project using an MGPP, which is essentially three generations of a project.

  • Generation 1 – I asked if there was anything in the project that could be completed in the next 3 months that would make a positive impact on their customers. Yes, and guess what? It required only minor process changes, implementing some training and education, and needed little to no capital investment.
  • Generation 2 – We looked at the project theoretically after generation 1 was complete and it made sense at that point to implement technology enhancements. The newer technology would also have a positive customer impact. In addition, the business required that technology implementations be placed in a queue for their IT staff to handle so future planning was needed.
  • Generation 3 – Given their new perspective, the team knew that making detailed plans for this generation was not necessary so here is where they put the “pie in the sky” goals and essentially made a rough outline for what their ultimate solution would look like.

By leveraging the simple MGPP tool, this Lean Six Sigma project team went from spinning their wheels with an overbearing project, to having their executive leadership sign off on generation 1 and set a date to review the next steps for generation 2. The company’s resources were not tied up for years and the team was not handcuffed to a seemingly endless project. An MGPP can help you see your Lean Six Sigma project in a clear light and stay focused on your customers and the needs of the business. It also helps you communicate with senior leadership in a clear and concise way and provides a simple solution to tackling tough projects.

If you are facing a “big, hairy project” of your own, download our free MGPP template here.

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