telecoms sector lean six sigma case studies

Sky provides television and broadband Internet services, fixed line and mobile telephone services to consumers and businesses in the United Kingdom. It is the UK’s largest pay-TV broadcaster with 11 million customers as of 2015.

A Personal Perspective from the View of the Leader

This Study takes the form of an interview…

Wayne Fisher talks to Martin Brenig-Jones about his work at Sky, getting Lean Six Sigma started – Walking us through the process and requirements of an extensive programme in a large company, focused on nurturing skills within their many staff and “Helping the business to help themselves”.

Wayne Fisher

Lean Six Sigma Deployment Leader

Process Improvement Manager, SKY  

Lean Six Sigma, why did you start it?


Wayne – I joined the organisation which had an established Process Improvement team. It became evident to me very quickly that whilst the team had a wealth of experience and had a good track record of delivery, there were huge opportunities to develop the model that was in place. The team was quite hidden and often the work that they worked was almost ‘cloak and dagger’. Stakeholders were nervous about who the team were and what the team could do. The team was given work to do, rather than working with Operations directly to identify opportunities and install a culture of continuous improvement that tapped into the knowledge of employees and the voice of our customers

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


Wayne – a very different scenario for me as I joined an established process improvement team. However, it became apparent that the team needed training on a process improvement framework to ensure that the team had a toolkit that could be fully utilised and a roadmap for dealing with continuous improvement. There were inconsistent practices and employees were keen to be given the required training that gave them a professional edge. I also felt that the Analyst population were not being fully utilised and allowed to demonstrate their true skills. They were task managed and not able to see a project through from start to finish, often they would be used to complete tasks for project leads and not get to see the full change cycle from start to finish. Training our analysts at Green Belt level gave them empowerment to lead their own projects and learn and grow.

How did you get started?


Wayne – My approach here was totally different. We had an established Process Improvement team who had varying degrees of experience using Lean Six Sigma. Some of the team were already accredited Green or Black belts, but there wasn’t necessarily a strong structure in place to share knowledge.


Our Senior Analyst population were given the responsibility to lead DMAIC projects, but the Analyst population were just being given tasks and often completed a lot of the ‘measure’ type activity. They were not being given the opportunity to lead projects and see the full DMAIC cycle through from start to finish. A decision was taken to train all of the team to the same level and everyone is now fully trained to BQF standard at Green Belt as a minimum. This has increased morale and empowerment and given everyone the opportunity to lead, ultimately leading to more completed projects.


Sky is a large company and my main focus has been how we tap into the untouched talent and opportunities for Continuous Improvement across the organisation. Many areas were approaching the Process Improvement team for support and help, but due to larger priorities and a reduced resource pool, we often turned these types of request away. We decided to explore ways in which we could ‘Help the Business to help themselves’ by introducing our own in house Yellow Belt programme. We have devised a training course, exam and accreditation process for delegates to complete. Areas across the business have been encouraged to send their people on the training if they have smaller process improvement projects that they would like to do. The Process Improvement team members have acted as trainers, coaches and mentors to these people and we are now starting to see Yellow Belt projects land across the business and a change in mind set. The skills and knowledge transfer of some of the DMAIC toolkit are helping the business to solve some of their problems in a structured way, placing the customer at the heart of everything that we do.

What were you trying to achieve?


Wayne – We have run with the slogan ‘Help the business to help themselves’ and again transfer skills and knowledge across the organisation to help them to tackle continuous improvement in a structured framework. Our aim is that on average every Yellow Belt project can save ~£50k per project.

How did you go about it?


Wayne – We tested the Yellow Belt training out as a pilot to practice our training skills and test that the format works and fits within the culture of Sky. We set out our stall that any delegate attending the training must have a project / business need already identified with a sponsor in place and be able to commit towards the full completion of a project.


We joined forces with the Process Improvement teams from other directorates in order to share best practice, resource and knowledge and a standardised approach. Our internal network was formed from representation in Customer Services, HR, Finance as well as the Process Improvement teams in both Sky Germany and Italy.


We have started to see our first Yellow Belt projects land and we are seeing the positive ripple effect where more people, business areas and projects are coming forward.

What were the biggest barriers?


Wayne –

  • The sheer size of the organisation and trying to ensure that there is no duplication of effort. Often you may feel that you are the only person working on an initiative when you discover that there are many others working on the same project
  • There is always a large sense of urgency within the culture to fix things extremely quickly. The pressure to land a change is large and judgement is given on the speed of delivery rather than the quality of the solution. We spend a lot time managing our stakeholders unrealistic expectations

What were the greatest successes?


Wayne –


  • We accredited 17 Green Belts landing over £6M in benefit from their first projects delivered
  • We have set up our own internal Yellow Belt training programme which incorporates a two day training course, an exam and accreditation panel. To date we have trained over 30 delegates, 4 yellow belt projects have been delivered with benefits and we have 16 live projects working through the DMAIC life cycle

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.

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