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Lean Six Sigma Advocacy at Xerox Guest was Aqua Porter, a Vice President of Corporate Lean Six Sigma Strategy at Xerox Corporation

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Aqua Porter, a Vice President of the Corporate Lean Six Sigma Strategy at Xerox Corporation appeared on the Business901 podcast. She is an advocate for Lean Six Sigma at Xerox and has led many Black Belt projects including the nomination of Black Belt candidates and the growth of Xerox Team Accelerator. Team Accelerator is a workshop program that utilizes the Belbin Team Role system to help teams draw on the strengths of each team member and work together. I seldom find the enthusiasm that Aqua brings to the Lean Six Sigma world. If you need your Six Sigma team to get pumped up about their next Six Sigma project this might be the podcast for them. Aqua Porter has been with Xerox since 1984 and has held a variety of positions including Engineering, Marketing, Product Development, Purchasing, and Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management. She is a senior manager with extensive experience in all phases of product development and delivery, and is adept in building strong teams who deliver exceptional business results. Xerox has made a major commitment to using Lean Six Sigma tools and methodology - both to drive improvements in our own business and to deliver measurable results for customers. Their unique, disciplined approach involves analyzing business processes and identifying ways to eliminate both errors and unnecessary steps. Xerox Global Services looks for ways to deliver improvements quickly and focus on leveraging your existing IT investments. From streamlining paper-choked workflows to automating labor-intensive functions, the results can be remarkable.

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Joseph Dager: I would like to welcome Aqua Porter, the VP of Corporate Lean Six Sigma strategy at the Xerox Corporation. Aqua has been with Xerox since 1984 and has held a variety of positions. Can you tell me about what you're doing with Xerox now and what participation Lean Six Sigma has at Xerox? Aqua Porter: Good morning, Joe. Well, my role today at Xerox is at the part of the Corporate Lean Six Sigma Organization, and specifically I'm responsible for managing in helping the organization deliver business results based on their Lean Six Sigma approaches. I also have a small team of Master Black Belts who are deployed to work on Xerox's more complex, difficult, more challenging issues and problems. And so those are the two places that I work today. Joseph: How long has Xerox been working with Lean Six Sigma? Aqua: We launched Lean Six Sigma in January of 2003 so this will be our seventh year, I think, and we started with the traditional DMAIC recipes for Lean Six Sigma, and we revolved so that we have made the recipe our own and by that, I mean, that we are now able to take what was the traditional recipe and really make it much more relevant to the issues and the problems that Xerox is facing. Joseph: You talk about a recipe, I mean, have you changed DMAIC or what is the recipe? Aqua: So clearly the DMAIC recipe is the fundamental and the way that I explained this to people is it's like sending someone to culinary school and the DMAIC recipe your basic. So you certainly learn the language and the tools and you kind of learn an approach, I mean, early on, we would tell teams that they would be in define for 30 days and measure in 30 days and analyze for 30 days, and it's pretty much like that for every project. Lean Six Sigma Advocacy at Xerox

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And now we're able to take the best basic recipe, kind of a white sauce, and make the best amount of sauce out of it. So, in some cases we follow DMAIC, and we use some of the DMAIC tools. In other cases, we may just do the DMAs, in some cases, we add different tools or different approaches to the problem so that we can help folk solve pretty complicated things that we may not always be able to get out of just your DMAIC process. We certainly have incorporated the DMEDI process into what was our DMAIC framework so that not only, DMAIC helps us work on processes where we notice they're broken. DMEDI approaches help us work on processes that are completely broken that we think, need the kind of a new start or for processes that don't exist. So, that's another area that we've added to our toolkit. And then the third thing that we have done is we have really put a lot of emphasis on designs for Lean Six Sigma, which is the third set of tools that really focus on our engineering community to help them develop products and services and get those to the market faster. Joseph: Who makes the decision on the processes to use, I mean, is it the Master Black Belt, is there a team that functions, let say, on a particular thing and then the Master Black Belt says, "OK, we're only going to use the DMA section of that" or how is that decision derived? Aqua: Our Black Belts who have gone through several projects are pretty astute at figuring out how complicated their product is, whether they are going to be able to do kind of a classic DMAIC approach or whether a problem will take a little of out-of-the-box thinking. We had an example, last fall where we had an organization that had to actually reduce its headcount by 40 percent. And they had to be able to go into 2009 with their processes, kind of, put back together. And they were, I would say, one of our less mature organizations from a Lean Six Sigma standpoint. Lean Six Sigma Advocacy at Xerox

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We had a Master Black Belt that works with them from the beginning, first to figure out, you know, how do we really rationalize taking 40 percent of cost and, potentially, of people out of this particular business, let's figure out how we're going to make that decision? So that was not necessarily a classic DMAIC tool, but we did apply some of our AHP knowledge and we kind of created some "what-if" scenarios that the teams could use to kind of say, “If we redefine our teams to look like this, what might happen?� What could happen if we take out these kinds of people? How do we kind of put this organization back together? So these were tools that a Master Black Belt or Black Belt wouldn't have gotten in just the Black Belt training, but because they have been doing several projects, they could be kind of knit together a set of tools to deal with this specific organization. And so over the past six months, we got them to the point where they could function after the 40 percent, and now we're working with them in reestablishing the processes cleaning out some of the processes that they had before and trying to understand what's the best use of the 40 percent of the people that they have; how do they continue to deliver the same services and how do they start to add value adding services to what they're doing? Joseph: When you do a large project like this, is there finality to it? Where the Black Belts kind of distance themselves from the whole thing? Do you have a storyboard at the end that you finish and assess the project on? And, of course, how do you incorporate ongoing improvement?

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Aqua: In our classic traditional DMAIC processes, we definitely have finality. We have the control toll gate, were all the pieces come together,. We show them that the improvement works. We have standard operating procedures that are handed off to the process owner. The process owner, by that time, is kind of engaged much more closely in the sustaining of the project. In most cases, we have a realization toll gate that we actually put on somewhere between two and six months after the product has gone to control, to make sure that the gains or the improvements that were established during control are still there. That's kind of our point where we say this project and these improvements can now sustain themselves and the process owner is in control. Some of our other projects which I would say are more enterprise-wide projects, they tend to take on a life of their own in some cases, and I would say we do it by in phases or by pieces. So we may finish essays of a big project and say we know we've done this piece and now we either have a dashboard or control plan or a new process that's operating that we're measuring, and we could end it. But at the same time, we may be continuing on to do other improvements depending on how large the scope of a project is. For example, we're working in an area trying to look at revenue and why in a particular product, we have seen a decrease in revenue that we hadn't really seen before. And so, we've actually been working on that project, if you look at it as a big project term, since January. We've kind of chunked it out so there was some work that had been done last year for this project and no one was measuring the outcome. So the first thing we did was we kind of establish a scorecard to say, "OK , here are all the things that you put in place last year. Let's just measure them to see how they're doing. Here's kind of what you thought you're going to get out of them and let's see how they're doing." Lean Six Sigma Advocacy at Xerox

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And so that's one phase that we set that scorecard up, and we're actually able to start putting a process in place to look at those results every month and see how they were doing. In the meantime, we were also doing a deeper dive into what was going on in the market, what were we doing internally to respond to the market forces, the competitive forces, our own product portfolio so that we could say, "Now we knew that we've lost market share and here's what we're trying to do? Let's figure out what the real root causes are and let's now go after those.“ And so, we had a bunch of smaller teams that are off looking at specific areas. I think we had five or six teams that we're looking at competition, pricing, coverage, all types of different things to find out where are the real root causes and what do we need to do to put things in place? Some of those things are going to be short term quick hits and some of them are going to be a much larger term, strategic initiatives that may take a year or two. We're talking about kind of putting together a new product to combat the competition in the market. Those things that will take a bit longer. So it depends on the size of the project, and we don't necessarily have an end gate if the project is something that enterprise-wide, pretty significant and we have to look at it at kind of different dimensions of the project. Joseph: I know the team concept of Lean Six Sigma at Xerox is very important part. And you talk about it specifically, but explain to me a bit about Team Accelerator and the Belbin Team Role System if you could.

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Aqua: What we try to tell managers in our leadership teams is that Lean Six Sigma is really good with what people would call the rational element. The hard technical things that need to be in place to measure, to analyze, to generate solutions, to evaluate solutions, to implement? Those are kind of the classic tools that people, Black Belts coming to class, put their mini tab in there learning all these DOEs and then know that these are statistical tools in Lean method. But what we know is that is also takes what we call the dynamic element, which are how we do things, the inter- and the intra-personal skills that really have to come together in order to actually do the real work. And training anybody, Green Belts or Black Belts with just the technical tools and sending them out to lead a team usually isn't very successful, unless they actually understand how do they deal with conflict, how do they deal with decision-making, how do they build consensus, how do they lead a team? We actually have every Black Belt candidate go through a week of what we call Team Accelerator training and that is one of the pieces of that training is to understand your own team role, how you normally act when you're in a team. We give them tools to help understand how the other members of their team behave. When they get a team together, they can start to predict behavior and put things in order to offset it. One of the tools that we give them is something called a Belbin Team Role Profile. And this was basically based on work of a gentleman named Meredith Belbin, who several years ago in England, did a lot of analysis on team behaviors and found that they were about nine different roles that you needed to have on a team.

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And if you had all those in a team, it didn't matter if it was a senior leadership team or a team that was a working team. If you had those nine roles, those teams were likely to be more successful. And what I akin it to be kind of like a baseball team. So if you have a baseball team, and you have nine good pitchers. You probably have a great pitching but you may not have any fielding and you may not have any catching and you may not have any batting. So these nine roles are not good or bad, they're just the nine roles that you need in order to have a really good successful team. Most people have three roles themselves those are their predominant primary roles, their preferred roles. Then they have another three roles that they can kind of go to if they need to. Then they have three roles that are less preferred. They're probably not very good at them. What you want to do is make sure that you bring out the roles in your people in your team so that you have a team with those nine roles in the right balance. Joseph: Interesting because what I've seen, you go through Lean Six Sigma Black Belt training, Lean training , etc., very little attention is paid on how to work with the team. Exactly what you're saying. Aqua: Right. We know that without some of that upfront acknowledgment that teams don't get off to a good start. We call it Team Accelerator because we want to give those Black Belts the skills to accelerate their teams to perform. One of the things we talked about is this Belbin Team Role, but we also talk about, conflict management and how does your team going to make decisions. We talk to them about learning cycles and how to make sure that your team learns. They create a learning organization so as they go through different phases, they don't make the same mistakes that they made in earlier phases, and they take from that and they learn.

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It’s four-and-a-half days of Team Accelerator training that we give the Black Belts, and it's kind of, I think, become one of the hallmarks of the Xerox Lean Six Sigma program. Joseph: You talk about Six Sigma, do you incorporate Lean principles also? Aqua: Absolutely. Our program is Lean and Six Sigma, and what we try to impress upon the Black Belts is, in most cases, if you have a process that you are improving, what you want to do first is get off a non-value added stuff out. So before you start a talk about reducing variability, you don't want to reduce variability in something that you don't even need. So our approach to them is let's figure out how to lean our processes, how to use simplifications, how to understand the process cycle time, how to actually do process mapping and understand where your Non- Value Added is in your process and then get the NVA out. Get your process cycle efficiency up and make sure that your process is working leanly, and then you can start to tweak to make sure there's not variability in it by applying some of the statistical tools that you were given on the Six Sigma side. Joseph: Do you start the process when you're working with lean, let's say using the process of a value stream mapping and then drawing the current stream or do you just do a process map? Aqua: In most all cases, we start out with a high level process map just to start usually define the process so that people know what the as-is condition is. And then we will have them start to do value stream mapping so that they can actually understand where all the inputs and outputs are. And sometimes we do the swim lane maps so that they will understand where the hand-offs are. We will apply the right process map to the process depending on the complexity of what it is we're trying to understand about the process. Lean Six Sigma Advocacy at Xerox

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So we spend a lot of time with the Black Belts making sure that they understand what all the process mapping skills and the tools are that they can use to get a good understanding of how the process is currently working. Then we're complete the process to make sure that we have a desired state process as well. Joseph: How would somebody else or other organizations go about looking for in a team leader? I mean, you spend a lot of time talking about teams and seems like you do spend a lot of time training . What would you recommend in developing good teams like Xerox has done? Aqua: So one of the things I would say, Joe, is you really want to look for people who you think, or you want to groom into other leadership positions. At Xerox, a Black Belt role is a developmental role, and it's a developmental role for our future leaders, and in some cases for our current leaders to get good additional skills, decision-making skills, team leadership skills. But I think that it's a great opportunity for organizations to look and to put some or to invest in their leadership pipeline. So that when those leaders get to high-level positions they have skills that they can use to make good decisions, to make decisions that they know they're making decisions and they can decide how much risk they want to use when they're making those decisions. Because at the end of the day, what I believe is that Lean Six Sigma is all about business results and decision-making and decisions always come with some degree of risk. And so what we try to do is help them have at their disposal, tools that they can go to minimize the risk or at least understand the amount of risk that they're going to take in making a decision or trying to improve a process.

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So, especially for the Black Belt, this is significant investment, we actually take people out of our business for up to 18 months to 24 months, and they're focused on solving some of the company's biggest problems, looking for some of the biggest opportunities, working on improving the governance or the efficiency and effectiveness of our operation. And you don't want to take our people who you don't believe are going to have a substantial return on the investment that you're making. Joseph: You talked about using Lean Six Sigma in the design process rather than just, let's say, product improvement, When you start with the process a lot of people argue against that, that Six Sigma can't be used in the design process. I think you differ with that statement. Can you give me a reason why? Aqua: Well, I think that there's a lot of talk that Lean Six Sigma's stifles innovation and creativity, and what I believe is that Lean Six Sigma gives people a road map to follow. And as I was saying earlier, the tools that we give people are the basic tools that they can use and add to and tweak, to kind of make their own depending on the situation that they're working in. Now, in our design environment, in some cases our development cycle times are fairly long -- a couple of years for a product to be developed. So we give engineers the tools that they can use pretty much at their desk to study a problem and create a quick win. We give them engineering tools, design of experiment, changing the factors in a certain area of the product so that they can see what the change might do to the output or the outcome. And they can do this without actually, as we would say, cutting steel. They can do this at their desk. When they are ready to actually go and make an investment in terms of dollars, they significantly shorten the cycle time, and they probably have the potential of doing much faster development. So, it's really an effort to improve our time-to-market that we provide these tools to the engineers. Lean Six Sigma Advocacy at Xerox

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The other thing that I would tell you is we had implemented a SCRUM methodology with our software team. And so in the past, our software team tended to work on a software release that would span several months of work. Once they release it, they would definitely be into the next release, trying to fix what was ever wrong in that release that they released. Now we have them kind of focus on doing berth of four weeks at a time, software development, focusing on getting one piece of the code absolutely correct before they're going to the next piece of code. What we found is that dramatically reduces the cycle time of the software. Those are things that we can actually put into a competitive advantages for us if we can get parts of the market. They can actually allow us to bring in revenue earlier than we would have if we can get products out there faster. Joseph: For rapid deployment, do you parallel the processes and have different teams working on that code itself? Aqua: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean it's chunked up into pieces but all the teams know exactly what the other teams are working at. And so there is, kind of a rapid iteration of the software development process, and they can more quickly find a problem. We have what they call a whole SCRUM methodology. We have SCRUM leaders, we have a SCRUM process and a SCRUM team. Small teams work really quickly, short burst of activity, get something done, go on to the next thing. That's not necessarily how we did software development in the past.

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Joseph: How can someone learn more about what Xerox is doing with Lean Six Sigma? Is there some places that you can go on the web and learn it? Aqua: I would definitely say that they could visit www.xerox.com. We have a Facebook page up now, and we also bear a lot of us that are twittering about our experiences in the Lean Six Sigma world. We do have some publications that are available, I know, internally. Some of them are probably also available externally. The other thing that we're doing is we're working with a lot of our customers. We are actually on our customers' sites working with them day-in and day-out, especially in documenting intensive services where we're able to work with them to improve their own process proficiency and improve the service that we provide to them. We're putting our customers first and making sure that we are working on their behalf with the solutions that we can bring to their sites. So I think there are lots of ways to check out what we're doing. Joseph: It sounds very great. I have enjoyed this tremendously. Aqua, I think you did a great job of explaining Lean Six Sigma and what's going on with Xerox. You can find this podcast, of course, on the Business901 podcast site. You'll also be able to download it from the Business901 ITunes store. So, thank you very much, Aqua, and I'll look forward to hearing more about Xerox and Lean Six Sigma. Aqua: Well, we're looking forward to sharing it with you, Joe. Joseph: Thank you.

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Joseph T. Dager Lean Six Sigma Black Belt

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Joe Dager is President of Business901, a progressive company providing direction in areas such as Lean Marketing, Product Marketing, Product Launches and Re-Launches. As a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and a certified coach of the Duct Tape Marketing organization, Business901 provides and implements marketing, project and performance planning methodologies in small businesses. The simplicity of a single flexible model will create clarity for your staff and as a result better execution. My goal is to allow you spend your time on the need versus the plan. An example of how we may work: Business901 could start with a consulting style utilizing an individual from your organization or a virtual assistance that is well versed in our principles. We have capabilities to plug virtually any marketing function into your process immediately. As proficiencies develop, Business901 moves into a coach’s role supporting the process as needed. The goal of implementing a system is that the processes will become a habit and not an event. Part of your marketing strategy is to learn and implement these tools. Lean Six Sigma Advocacy at Xerox

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Guest was Aqua Porter, a Vice President of Corporate Lean Six Sigma Strategy at Xerox Corporation