I’m a Project Champion, Get Me Out of Here!

The Project Champion (or Sponsor) plays a vital role in a Lean Six Sigma project. The individual – we always recommend that this role is undertaken by one person – is responsible for giving strategic direction to the project team, providing resources, helping overcome issues, reviewing progress and ensuring the team remains focussed.

Project Champion

While the Champion won’t be asked to jump into the role by parachute, wade through tanks of rats, or eat witchetty grubs and other unspeakable things, it can still feel like a jungle. Here are our top tips for Project Champions, so that they don’t have to shout, “I’m a Project Champion, Get Me Out of Here!”

  • The Lean Six Sigma process improvement journey starts with a problem that needs to be solved. It’s okay not to have a solution in mind at this stage! Let the methodology do its work, or as they say, “Let DMAIC do DeMAgIC!”
  • You don’t have to be an expert on the Lean Six Sigma methodology. Don’t get bogged down with the technicalities of Lean Six Sigma.
  • Avoid mammoths! Remind the team that small is beautiful when it comes to the scope of a Lean Six Sigma project.
  • ‘Talk up’ the project and the team at every opportunity.
  • Encourage the team to use different ways of thinking. One of our favourite quotes is by Einstein, “The significant problems we face cannot be solved by the same level of thinking which caused them”.
  • Focus on the customer.
  • Encourage the use of data, not opinions.
  • Make sure the team are looking for countermeasures (solutions that directly address the root causes of the problem in the process), not ‘pet’ solutions.
  • Help the team to ensure that the solutions are embedded and that the benefits from the project are realised.
  • Encourage the team to capture their lessons learned. And document your own. “Skills can be learned while experience must be earned” (Joy Gumz – project management guru).

The project team will expect support and availability, and for the Champion’s expertise to guide them. The team will also need the Champion’s trust, confidence, respect and commitment.

“It’s a jungle out there”, sang Randy Newman, “…No one seems to care. Well I do”. Exactly as a Project Champion should!

‘The Lean Six Sigma Improvement Journey Champion’s Guide’ provides more detailed practical advice to Champions. The tips outlined above are only the bare necessities.