Financial – Barclays

lean six sigma case studies

Barclays is a British multinational investment bank and financial services company headquartered in London. Apart from investment banking, Barclays is organised into four core businesses: personal banking, corporate banking, wealth management, and investment management.

A Personal Perspective from the View of the Leader

“I wanted the business to feel that power I’d felt when using the tools and then to utilise these to move performance in ways never seen before.”

This Study takes the form of an interview…

Beau Ormrod talks to Martin Brenig-Jones about his experiences Lean Six Sigma, and using culture to drive performance improvement within a long established financial institution.

Beau Ormrod

Former VP Process Improvement & Analytics, Business Transformation

Why did you start it – what prompted you to get going?


Beau – I started my ‘LSS life’ over 12yrs ago working as a Governance Manager in Direct Channels. I wouldn’t say a prompt but more a forced-hand(!) as the team I looked after was being moved into a CI space and with that came the Lean discipline. Six Sigma came a little later in that transition but the two were introduced within a year of each other and I haven’t looked back.

Before you started what did you think / what previous experience had you had?


Beau – Buzz words! Kaizen, Root Cause, SPC and the more familiar terms – but all fragmented in various discussions and came across as a ‘I read this article on the subject, now let me quote tools to you so it sounds interesting’ kinda way. No real sense as to, well… why? I initially thought it was going to be another flavour of the month and would soon disappear, along with it’s predecessors, but it didn’t…

How did you get started?


Beau – Dived in! At that point in my career I was a training/knowledge sponge. I saw the possibilities with what I’d learned from listening to a couple of Lean Coaches in the business – so I pursued it. It wasn’t long at all before I was using the Ishikawa (which I liked the sound of at first!) in a real-life-business example – and that was it – hooked. I felt the power of a simple tool… I then went through my GB training and became a practitioner. A few projects later and I was looking at a big opportunity…

What were you trying to achieve?


Beau – I was asked to look at Performance across the UK. It ‘flatlined’. We were ‘kidding ourselves’ around better/worse performance and we threw the same resources and thinking at this ‘problem’ year-on-year. After challenging the ‘problem’ I decided adopting a Variation Management approach would be the key.

Optimising the current capabilities of our colleagues by arming them with new tools – Box Plots (to assess the level of variation/opportunity), Run Charts (to assess the location of this) and Fishbone (to understand why this happens). Not a typical DMAIC/Project approach but the essence of LSS was the backbone. I wanted the business to feel that power I’d felt when using the tools and then to utilise these to move performance in ways never seen before.

How did you go about it?

Beau – Culture – this had to be culture driven. As all major businesses, across all retail sectors it had a history of sales. Sell sell sell. This wasn’t about that – it was about optimising performance through Root Cause Insight. What you don’t know – you don’t know. Get to know it. Repeat the good. Change the not so good. It was a fairly simple message – after all, I wasn’t asking for full DMAIC projects – simply to use a few tools in the discipline to help with performance – this carried a heavy challenge.

What were the biggest barriers?


Beau – Culture! Leaders through to frontline. Unpicking decades of one culture proved unsurmountable. That leap of faith in the discipline and that by not driving performance through targets. Use Lean Thinking. Reduce wastes. Create an efficient working environment and therefore productivity.


Have faith! LSS requires a large amount of trust and belief. Instant results and instant gratification drives businesses today and LSS will not provide this in the short term. Medium to long term (for me) – it’s the only way. This is true of any installation of Lean and/or Six Sigma methodologies. It takes time – but that time is paid back in abundance when it gets going.

What were the greatest successes?


Beau – For those with faith – it changed their view of the world/business forever. Top performers became Outstanding performers. Those finding it difficult – found ways to make it work for them. I could quote numbers on how it stabilised performance and increased productivity – as it did – however the difference it made to those who had that persistence, it’s still paying dividends. I often see colleagues who tell me they will always remember the day they learned how to Fishbone!

With hindsight, what would you do differently?


Beau – Take time. Too much too soon. Proved it worked and sustained in a smaller scale (rather than the whole of UK + parts of Europe) and use those closer-to-home examples. It’s funny how people want a slice of what looks good.

What advice would you give to other leaders?


Beau – Whatever you’re practicing or teaching in LSS, take it to the heart of the business and demonstrate. It has to be relatable, relevant and real. Flatten any hierarchy and you’ll be surprised on who and how this is utilised.

What were the greatest successes?


Beau – Belt up. Now a BB it really helps to know the discipline inside out so the advice I gave is easier. Also – make it fun. I guess a rule I try to apply to as much as I can – but it does go a long way when instilling something potentially technical.

This interview case study is an excerpt from our book Lean Six Sigma for Leaders

You can find the book and learn more about Lean Six Sigma on Amazon.

Learn more about achieving results like these…