When Michigan healthcare company McLaren Greater Lansing decided to implement process improvement, they considered adding a few staff members proficient in Six Sigma.
Then, they considered a different route: Why not train everyone?
They’ve decided to do just that. All employees (nearly 2,500) at the company will receive Six Sigma Yellow Belt training, which the company expects to conclude by the end of 2018.
“When we evaluated what our performance improvement department should look like, we considered adding a small number of support staff,” Tom Mee, President and CEO of McLaren Greater Lansing, told the Lansing State Journal.
“But by including every employee in this level of training, we have established a Performance Improvement Team of nearly 2,500 people.”
McLaren Greater Lansing leadership is used to looking at the big picture and long-term health of the company. The healthcare organization has provided medical services in Michigan since 1913, starting with delivering babies.
The company now provides a wide range of services, including a Breast Cancer Care Center that offers full-service diagnostics, a Wound Care Center, pediatric hospitals, rehabilitation centers for cardiology, pulmonary, physical therapy and sports medicine, and community-based health screenings, education and outreach.
McLaren also has been a leader in orthopedics and cardiology.
Benefits of Yellow Belt Training
With such a large operation with many facilities and thousands of employees, McLaren is poised to benefit from Six Sigma training.
Yellow Belt training focuses on teaching the central concepts of the Six Sigma methodology. While not all employees are destined to become a more advanced Green Belt or Black Belt, Yellow Belt training introduces them to many of the cornerstones of Six Sigma methodology.
In a healthcare setting, Yellow Belt training can lead to improvements in a number of areas. Chief among them are improving patient experience (like shorter wait times) and health outcomes, make routine processes within the organization more efficient and eliminate wasteful activities that can hinder improvements in customer service.
Some of the areas covered in Six Sigma training include:
- Learning Six Sigma terminology
- Learning how to collect and analyze data as part of process improvement
- Learning how to use Six Sigma methodologies in relation to that data to achieve goals
- Learning how to limit wasted time in daily work tasks
At McLaren, the training also will focus on the four-step process known as PDCA, which stands for Plan, Do, Check, Act. PDCA helps employees delve into the root cause of a process problem, allowing them to overcome a challenge for the long-term rather than creating a short-term fix.
Another method that can help in this area is the Five Whys. This approach requires asking “why” at least five times, starting with why a particular problem is happening, and then continuing to ask “why” to delve deeper into the root cause of the issue.
Yellow Belts and Corporate Culture
Perhaps the most important aspect of Yellow Belt training is that it aligns employees with the overall organizational goals. Put in simple terms, it gets everyone on the same team, moving in the same direction and speaking the same language.
This doesn’t happen overnight. But by committing to Yellow Belt training for every employee, McLaren is banking on creating a culture where everyone, from executives to customer-facing employees, are working in tandem toward the same goals.
As Mee told the Lansing State Journal, “Simply put, the Six Sigma Lean Yellow Belt training is designed to empower every employee to be able to improve their workplace to the benefit the employee, the company and most importantly, the patient.”