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Uwe H Kaufmann
Dr Uwe H Kaufmann is the founder of Centre for Organisational Effectiveness (COE Pte Ltd), a business advisory firm operating out of Singapore. As consultant and coach with many years of experience, his passion lies in supporting organisations to improve their effectiveness. Uwe is a German national and Permanent Resident of Singapore. He has four children and nine grandchildren … and counting.

Sushi and more… The Importance of the Moment of Truth

A typical Friday evening starts with a family dinner in a nice atmosphere. This time we decide to visit one of our favourite restaurants for a light dinner with Sushi. Upon arrival we are amazed.

Usually, this place is packed on a Friday evening. Today, more than half of the seats are empty. Therefore, going in and taking a seat at the conveyor belt is very easy. Before the waitress has a chance to approach us we have taken some plates with Sushi already. 

A Lesson of Leadership

A couple of months ago, I was having lunch with the Chairman of a medium-sized contract manufacturing company in Singapore. When we made the appointment, we agreed to meet at a posh club in the centre of the city-state. After arriving there I found myself in the middle of his management team. He brought MD and CFO along.

Red Tape? – Not Here

Everyone, undoubtedly, has had the unenviable honour of experiencing ‘bureaucratic government processes.’ Be it applying for your first ID or passport, to initially obtaining a driving license and the inevitable dealings with the tax man. Judging by the time it takes and the “milestones” or number of departments one has to go through when dealing with German government bodies, the processes behind ID, passport or driving license must be highly complex and are usually being done by constantly overworked people. The Red Tape is often unbelievable.

Read Tape - Not HereSome time ago, I had to go to the Singapore Immigration and Customs Authority to receive my PR stamp in my German passport. The process was quite fast and the service very nice. I was about to leave the building when I saw a signboard which ‘advertised’ – “Get your Access Card now”. Since it seems to be a fashion to have a card for almost everything I stopped at the signboard and read the fine print. My conclusion was: “If you travel a lot you can make your life easier with an Access Card”. I turned around to ask a friendly officer for the Access Card counter.

Arriving at the second floor, I approached the counter. “Good afternoon, Sir. How can I help you?” After I had explained my interest in the card the lady behind the counter asked me with a smile: “Do you have your passport?” “Yes” “A passport photograph?” “Sure” “Some money?” “No problem” “Your thumb?” “Yes” “Then we can proceed.”

Being accustomed to typical government processes I imagined receiving my application form and being asked to fill it in, then submitting it and coming back a few weeks later to pick up my Access Card. I was under no illusion that this process would take less than a month.

The first surprise: this nice lady at the counter did not ask me to fill in an application form. She did it for me! I cannot recall any encounter with a German government clerk who would have done this. After signing my application form she asked me to take a seat.

About 15 minutes later, she called me back to the counter – presenting my plastic Access Card with chip and my photograph on top: “Sir, this is your Access Card. Please try at the simulator over there whether it works.” I tried. It worked – of course.

I could not believe what I had just experienced. Between not knowing that an Access Card exists until holding my personal card in my hands – with programmed chip embedded and photograph printed in plastic – pass less than 30 minutes in Singapore. No Red Tape. Impossible! Unbelievable!

This is what I call Process Excellence for Customer Satisfaction, or better: Customer Delight. I would not even expect this kind of performance from a private company, let alone a government agency. Thank you, ICA!

Conclusion

Only outstanding products or services are able to get customers noticing your company, talking about it and recommending it to their business partners and friends. Delivering what customers request is not enough. Customers would not ask for an Access Card delivered within 30 minutes because – for most of them – this is beyond their wildest dreams as it was for me. This kind of solution needs a creative mindset and an innovative organisation.
Keep in mind: Impossible is nothing.

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The Difference Between Black Belt and Black Belt

Six Sigma has been developed decades ago and fine-tuned by many companies since then. However, there is no ISO standard or something similar guiding the deployment or regulating the certification of the key players, Green Belts or Black Belts. There is only one key requirement that helps distinguish between success and failure: business results.

The easiest task in the journey to deploying Six Sigma or similarly Lean Six Sigma is the training of Green Belts and Black Belts. Many training companies have discovered this gold mine and produce hundreds of Belts every year. For small money, nearly everyone can attend twenty 3-hour evening sessions led by trainers who have hardly run any projects to become a Green Belt including certificate. Taking this certificate, attaching it to the CV and going for the next job application is a question of days.

Three Rules for Data Analysis: Plot the Data, Plot the Data, Plot the Data

The job of purchasing is obviously to source for reliable suppliers who deliver products conforming to specification on time within a certain price range. The more data is available about potential suppliers the better the decision will be. However, how shall the data be analysed?
FridgeMaker used to get supplies of a very crucial part, the Spacer, from Supplier X. Unfortunately, over the last months Supplier X has been struggling with waves of reorganisation resulting in unreliable deliveries and hence line stoppages for FridgeMaker.

Table 1: Supplier Qualification Data for Spacer (USL=10.8, LSL=10.2)

FridgeMaker is looking for new suppliers for all parts coming from Supplier X. Purchasing has already started the supplier qualification process for the Spacer (10.5 +/-0.3) and has received parts from suppliers A, B and C. The data are shown here. Following this data purchasing can make their decision on price. All of the suppliers meet the requirements set out in the tender document.   

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People Development – The Smart Way

A couple of years ago, I was meeting the President of an Asian multi-national mid-sized service company for a Six Sigma Training on Saipan, a nice sunny pacific island south-east of Japan. Together with a colleague we were sitting at the beach, wearing swimming suits and preparing the next days session whilst getting sun-tanned. When the President arrived – he was in shorts and ugly slippers! – we had a casual briefing for the Leadership Team session and the Staff Awareness Sessions we were about to run during that week.

Measure The Success of Your Journey – A Lean Six Sigma Meter

Some well-known companies have been “doing Six Sigma” for years. They keep doing improvement projects in all kinds of business and support processes, rolling it out in Sales and R&D. They are extending the application of Six Sigma to the entire value chain – suppliers and customers – in their drive for sustained performance improvement. They are successful in building the Six Sigma principles into their daily business life and using this powerful approach as a vehicle to drive cultural change.

Other companies pilot improvement initiatives like Six Sigma by running a couple of improvement projects, then recognise that the journey toward improved business results will be a long and difficult one that requires a turn-around in the mindset of managers. A post-mortem analysis of a failed Six Sigma effort usually points to the lack of management commitment and lack of attention to the business and cultural investment needed to reach and sustain new levels of performance. What practical steps can be taken to maintain the focus and drive needed to reap the full benefits that Six Sigma offers?

Six Sigma – Show Me The Money

Globalisation and instant access to information, products and services continue to change the way our customers conduct business.
Today’s competitive environment leaves no room for error. We must delight our customers and relentlessly look for new ways to exceed their expectations. This is why Six Sigma Quality has become a part of our culture. Jack Welch, GE

What is Six Sigma?

First, what it is not. It is not a secret society, a slogan or a cliche. Six Sigma is a highly disciplined process that helps all kinds of companies focus on developing and delivering near-perfect products and services.

Six Sigma in Financial Services

Background

OurBank is an American international bank with 50 branches in Germany and approximately 300 employees working either in the headquarter office or in one of the branches.
In 2003, the senior management of OurBank decided to adopt and implement Six Sigma as their business management tool across all business units in the Europe region.
According to the OurBank business strategy, the car loan business was identified as one of the business priorities in the next 12 months. The strategy was to significantly grow the car loan business market share within the region in two years time, by 100% in the first year, and by another 70% in the second year.

What’s Next After Employee Opinion Survey?

OurBank is a small German bank with branches in Germany and approximately 300 employees working either in the headquarter office or in one of the branches. OurBank went through an acquisition, i.e. we became part of a large American multi-national enterprise focussing on financial services.

Due to the acquisition and the resulting uncertainty, staff turnover was sky-high, morale was down and performance was unsatisfactory. All communication activities nicely drafted in the 100-day M&A plan were not able to make the turn-around. Further talking about “Change Management” would have been devastating. Surveying employee satisfaction every quarter only reemphasised the problem for the management and sent the wrong signal to the staff. So, what happens next?
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