This exclusive interview is with Lisa Feeley who discusses the importance of Lean Six Sigma, Lean Six Sigma skills and having a “Kata” or Lean mindset. She shares her insights and three important pieces of advice for both business students and professionals.
Thought Leadership News: You have an amazing business background with more than 35 years in several different industries. What is Lean Six Sigma, and why is it important?
Lisa Feeley: Lean Six Sigma is a methodology that combines Lean (which is all about delivering value and delivering best customer services at best cost) and Six Sigma (which has been around a long time and is focused on reducing defects and variation). Six Sigma incorporates the statistics side of the fence. Lean is really more about the constant pursuit of perfection; it is really culture. I believe Lean Six Sigma is so important to businesses (more today than ever) because we must find a way to differentiate ourselves and make sure we are bringing value to clients. It is a highly competitive environment, regardless of your industry, and client retention is very important. If you incorporate Lean Six Sigma and can improve your processes and results / outcomes, then, your costs are lower (fewer errors and less wasted time) and your clients are happier. Happier clients are more loyal. More loyalty increases sales.
Thought Leadership News: In today’s business world of constant change and disruption, how essential are Lean Six Sigma skills, and why?
Lisa Feeley: I apply my Lean Six Sigma skills in all parts of my life, not just in my career. Having a “Kata” or Lean mindset results in being more efficient and productive. In my career, I have been fortunate that the companies I have worked for strive to improve on processes and protocols in order to grow. So, in today’s business environment (and I would argue even in your personal life), I believe Lean Six Sigma skills are very essential in helping to create further differentiation between you and your competitors: more organized team players can get more done the right way the first time and they have a growth mindset which results in faster problem solving. When companies go to hire teams to lead their projects, they are looking for innovative, efficient, customer service driven consultants who understand that speed to delivery and high quality results are a must have!
Thought Leadership News: How do these skills help a business develop?
Lisa Feeley: Having been a consultant for at least 15 years in my career, I always explain the following to my clients. I would much rather select a team who has some knowledge of Six Sigma and has a “growth / lean” mindset to lead a messy project (one that has ambiguous data, no champion, unclear objectives, unclear processes, etc.) even though they might not have the MOST relevant experience versus a team with incredibly relevant experience but a fixed / non-growth mindset with no knowledge of Six Sigma. The first team won’t take long to figure it out, and we will come out way ahead. The second team will likely NOT get the project finished and if it gets done, it may be late and over budget. I am very passionate about every professional in today’s environment gaining some understanding of Lean Six Sigma – it is a competency you really want to build.
Thought Leadership News: Is getting a Lean Six Sigma certification really important? What would you say are important reasons for getting a Lean Six Sigma certification?
Lisa Feeley: Certification from a highly regarded organization / firm / university is a big plus. I have met several people in the past few years that tell me they took a course on Lean or attended a seminar on Six Sigma – which is good but most individuals cannot lead a project or have a detailed understanding of how to use any of the more than 45 tools and methods that Lean Six Sigma certified Green Belts or Black Belts or Master Black Belts can implement on projects. As a Master Black Belt, I appreciate the opportunity to demonstrate value to clients because of the knowledge I have gained over my 20+ years of being involved in LSS Projects.
Thought Leadership News: If you could share three important pieces of advice to give to business students and professionals, what would they be?
Lisa Feeley: Advice my Dad gave me still stands true (he was a USAF Lt. Col / Pilot and successful entrepreneur): Gain all the skills you can that can bring more value to more people in different environments as that increases your value. The other two pieces of advice I would add are: Maintain an open / growth mindset by being willing to learn from others, (I like to say 1 + 1 + 1 can equal 5 if you have the right team members in the room), so that you can always pursue perfection, AND always build your career so that it is a well paid hobby. If you align what you enjoy learning to do and what you enjoy doing with what you can do for a living, you will never see it as work. I have been super fortunate that I have rarely “worked” a day in my 35-year career – but instead, I have put in typically 60+ hours-a-week on my hobby that pays well.
National Healthcare & Life Sciences Sector Leader
NOVA Engineering and Environmental, LLC
Lisa Feeley’s professional experience includes a 35+ year career in multiple industries including Finance, Pharma, Human Resources, Marketing, and Engineering. She is also a successful 3-time Entrepreneur. “Joining NOVA a year ago as their National Healthcare & Life Sciences Sector Leader, I lead business development nationally. Enjoying teaching Lean Six Sigma and topics of accountability, I am an adjunct instructor at Purdue University and recently leveraged my Lean knowledge in writing my third book, ‘An Accountable American’. Celebrating 33 years with my wonderful husband this month, we have two daughters, one new granddaughter, and reside in South Carolina.”
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