Managing Events with Lean Six Sigma

(Originally recorded February 24, 2016)

The hospitality industry has many certifications, but few carry beyond our industry. Lean Six Sigma is recognized as a methodology with toolsets that span all industries, worldwide.

Rob Wilson of Meeting Evolution leads this webinar, co-hosted by Pathable’s Jordan Schwartz. Learn what Lean Six Sigma is, and how it can help you to manage your meetings more effectively and efficiently.

Read the transcript

Jordan Schwartz

Hitting record. The answer to that is yes. Let me just do some quick housekeeping. Again, I’m Jordan from Meeting Evolution. I’m going to play the role of ignorant interviewer which should be fairly easy for me to play in this case because I don’t know a lot about Six Sigma. Rob Wilson is a black belt and will be teaching us all about LEAN, Six Sigma and how it applies to the event industry. As we go, we’ve also got Bob Walters is manning the question window so if you have questions go ahead and type them into the question window in go to meeting. He will either answer them or, if it makes sense, he’ll go ahead and interrupt us and we can take care of that during this webinar. I prefer having webinar as more of a dialogue between the presenters and the audience rather than everybody sitting quietly and listening while we read off slide. Rod, you want to take us away?

Rob Wilson

Thank you Jordan. I appreciate that. Just to add a little bit to what Jordan said, we probably have about 40, maybe 40 to 45 minutes of content, and as Jordan mentioned please feel free to provide any questions in the question window and Bob will pop in as needed.

The agenda slide. We’re going to touch on what is Six Sigma and then what is LEAN and a couple of other of the bullet points here. What I really want to do during this time is try to framework of how and what is Six Sigma. Then ultimately the goal here is when you leave the webinar is can I apply some of these things right now? At the end of the webinar we will provide a slide that has additional resources for you to learn more about that.

Jordan Schwartz

This webinar so bought to you by Meeting Evolution which is Rob’s company and they are providing a strategic meetings management solution including request, sourcing, complete registration module and workspace. It’s strategic meetings management delivered. In Pathable we provide mobile event apps and web portals for conferences with a specialization in creating relations and community between the attendees and private meeting scheduling for attendees and exhibitors.

Rob Wilson

Okay. The first slide here is really touching on the definition. I’ve been presenting this type of content over the past 12 to 15 months to different industry events. It’s been really a great opportunity to just understand how well is Six Sigma known about what’s in the meetings and events, that is surprisingly, people know quite a bit about it. It was kind of fun. One of the very first discussions that I had or sessions that I did, we had a few people from GE in the session where GE were Six Sigma kind of was born. Yes it was born of Motorola, back in the eighty’s. Jack Welch with GE really embraced it and really became how GE and manufacturing began to change in regards to process management.

Jordan Schwartz

Jack Welch is just, is a dot in the business management world. I mean, he took General Electric and took it from a $12 billion company to a $280 billion company. I think, he did something like 600 acquisitions during his tenure there. Really, regarded not only as someone who’s very successful, but who pioneered techniques. I remember when I was a Microsoft, where I spent ten years, there were a lot of talk about, well the way Jack Welch would do it and we talk about how to organize our teams and just how to grow a business.

Rob Wilson

Yeah. He’s got some good books I’ve read. I’ve read most of his books out there, I would encourage those that are interested to learn more about him. You know, Six Sigma, as a whole, is typically fond of manufacturing but when you begin to understand, what our industry, meetings and events and really industry, any industry that you may be part of because of your organization that you work for. Process management applies to everything. That’s really where Six Sigma comes in. Kind of the definition of Six Sigma, is really being able to deliver 99.9, basically 6 9s after the 99. You might say, okay, apply that to meetings and events, what does this mean? Imagine processing or being involved in delivering executing over a million meetings in 12 month period and only three of those having problems. That was easy.

Jordan Schwartz

Just to tell what those 9s mean. I know in the software world if I say we deliver 5 9s of availability, it means that 99.99999% of the time my server is online and can be accessed. I guess in the event world what does that mean?

Rob Wilson

Yeah. If it’s delivering almost perfection, you know, it’d be fun to do that but to kind of a equate that across. You may hear, white belts yellow belts, green belts, Jordan mentioned black belt earlier. When you talk about Six Sigma these are typical of the terminology that you would hear in regards to what belts you have and Six Sigma. You’re going to hear it, obviously it applies, correlates with karate and so forth because that’s what those would be. I bring up this slide right here, we’ve talked about levels of Six Sigma, oftentimes. People are, well okay, you just defined Six Sigma but what are the other ones? What does this really mean? The second column, where it says defects for a million opportunities, that would be an event. A single event is a single opportunity. Again looking at taking these percentages across. Looking at the very bottom which is Six Sigma. The reality is, if you’re involved in 10 meetings, 100 meetings, a 1000 meetings, whatever that fee, being able to supply how efficient, how productive, how are we’re managing process to deliver successful events. it’s just a point of reference is the purpose of this slide.

I talked a little bit about Six Sigma so what is LEAN. Oftentimes, LEAN if that’s an acronym, what does that mean? It really is not an acronym. Its purpose is focus in regards to LEAN Six Sigma. They are two separate methodologies. LEAN really became popular, it’s implemented daily within Toyota and the way that they operate and produce cars. Its focus is every step of a process. Identifying what is wasteful. What are things that do not add value. You might say well, who defines value? That is the question right there. It’s your customer. We, as We are working through events, the process, we think something is valuable but if it is not to the customer or if it is the customer. That is who, one we are serving when we’re delivering an event but then ultimately who is defining value in something.

LEAN is focused on identifying waste and eliminating it but also it is knowing who your customer is in the process and what is valuable to them. It’s a long term initiative. It’s not something that Okay this meeting is over we move on. No. You identify every step of the process, again, getting the RFP, getting the comparison grid, getting the contract completed. Going on the site inspection. Doing the post event, can every step of an event, can it be done better? If it can, great, How?. You do that over and over again. It’s a constant, long term initiative identifying and evaluating everything that we do and how we do it.

Jordan Schwartz

If I can just tell you what I think I just heard. Again, I’m learning as we go so I hope I’m getting it right. LEAN sounds like it’s focused on reducing waste whereas the Six Sigma part is focused on reducing errors. I captured that right?

Rob Wilson

Yeah, pretty much and looking at this slide right here. You know when you look at LEAN, oftentimes these can be subjective. Jordan what you think is important or value added, may or may not be the same for me. Yeah, you’re going to have costs and collaboration, oftentimes with LEAN they’re smaller projects that could be something you actually change today. During your lunch time or during the time that you’re evaluating your e-mails every day. It’s quick and it can be more subjective. There’s not a lot of rigor, if you will, you’re not really putting your e-mail process through grid and charts and so forth. It’s OK this makes sense. LEAN is small quick get [inaudible 00:09:28]. Bruce’s SiX Sigma is very data driven. You oftentimes put processes through grids and charts and determine what is the data telling me to make a decision. Oftentimes, Six Sigma is much more … it’s longer projects. I could be 3 to 12 months and they often require a capital investment to actually implement and have documented cost savings, monthly, quarterly, annually. It’s over and over again. It’s data driven decisions versus collaboration and subjective

Jordan Schwartz

If anyone’s a nit picker like me, I take responsibility for the fact that it says compliment with an i at the bottom, I changed one of Robs slides. Six Sigma is telling LEAN that it’s got a great shirt on, LEAN is telling Six Sigma that it really likes that tie but they also complement each other. It sounds like they go well together with …

Rob Wilson

Very much so. Oftentimes, when you hear about this LEAN and Six Sigma, people say where do I start. Well, the reality is the beginnings you start with what you have and oftentimes that is easiest when you start looking at LEAN. Put them together. DeFine them. LEAN Six Sigma is understanding process management and being able to identify the value added in the process to ultimately serve the customer continually. Not just one time. Every time you’re executing an event. Now again, the key word here, not only is continuing but. Who is your customer? What is important to them? Some of the principles around LEAN, again, understanding the customer. What I’m going to do here is, as I go through some of these bullet points, is how does this apply to meetings and events? What would be areas within the process of delivering an event that these would apply? Understand the customer to me, the RFP, the initial process or initial step if you will, of gathering the requirements about the meeting so that’s going to be where, when, who is coming and what is the event need to deliver. Do we have an objective? Is this a sales meeting? Is this a board meeting? What’s our purpose here? During those conversations, during the steps, you’re going to one, I understand who your customer is and what is important to them, what do they find valuable? Step one.

Jordan Schwartz

As I’m looking at that graphic, it sounds like there’s a feedback cycle as part of LEANing. This is the defined step. You first have to understand what is you’re trying to get done and what’s important. Is that right?

Rob Wilson

Yep, very much so. When you look at the circle on the right hand side, the acronym that you’ll hear a lot around Six Sigma is … it’s pronounced demaic, D-M-A-I-C but it is a process on the far right hand side and it is insidious, it doesn’t stop. Moving on to identifying and understanding the value stream and other stuff. We all, whether it be from the planner side or the hotel side, at some point in time in the step, process, a contract is produced. You negotiate through it. You ultimately sign it. Again, going back to the very first bullet point, who is my customer? What’s valuable to them? That needs to be in the background, the back of your mind as you’re going through that step.

Jordan Schwartz

When we talk about what’s valuable to them, I think that’s worth spending an extra minute on, because I think a lot of times it’s easy to get confused between the practicalities of what we think is valuable to them and what the underlying value is. For example, you may think that you’ve been contracted to provide a conference or there’s a meeting. It’s got to be a venue and there’s going to be food and there’s going to be a speaker. What’s really valuable to the customer is something more like attendee engagement or selling exhibitor spots or revenue building or membership growth. Things like that. The specifics of how you do it and what you actually end up executing are important, but are ultimately, secondary to that underlying value. Am I on the right track here?

Rob Wilson

Yeah, very much so. I would say that value is going to be defined totally different for an association versus a corporation versus a meeting that’s focusing on sales or product launch. That’s why, it’s very important on the beginnings, anytime you’re putting an event together, creating the objective. Why are we having this meeting? Oftentimes when I do these sessions from the industry events I ask question, how many of you actually have that conversation with the stakeholder of why are we having this meeting? What is the objective? I find say 40 to 50% of people raise their hands but the balance don’t. Sometimes, it’s the environment, we just don’t have the opportunity to do that which is kind of to an extent disappointing because you don’t really know, did this meeting deliver what it needed to? What was RY? What was the definition of success? It kind of speaks to what is the process? How do you know if you’re a success if you don’t know what the objective of the event is? Which kind of speaks to enable the value to flow. We have the RFP contract execution then the post event.

The bullet point underneath that which is let the customer pull the value through the process according to the needs. Again, that goes back to the first bullet point, have you had the opportunity to have the discussion of what is the objective of this meeting? Now, you might say, look, we have monthly meetings, quarterly meetings, semiannual meetings that pretty much are the same thing. That’s great. In effect, you should already know that. You should know what is valuable to the customer and as you’re going through the steps of the process, the RPS, the site inspection, the contract, on site, executing the post event. You should know that as I go through those steps of the process, the customer was valuable to them and it’s simple pulling it through. Then the very bottom point again which is all about LEAN and Six Sigma, You’re continuously evaluating every time you do an event, could we have done it better and where? You spend time focusing on that.

Jordan Schwartz

Can you give me examples of the measurement phase. I get how we can measure something like, I said I’d put on the event, we did. Speaker showed up. You know the food was there. If we’re talking about value, how do you measure that? How do you make that contractual?

Rob Wilson

Yeah. I would say there’s a couple different tools that are currently, readily available in this processes. First, understanding what the objective of the event is. Are you polling? Are you doing surveys? Whether these for the entire attendee audience or are you doing that during breakout sessions? That is one way. Another thing from the perspective of the cost savings, are you documenting cost savings as you go through the negotiations process in the contract. Not only are you documenting, but are you then sharing that information, not only with your manager but the stakeholder. Oftentimes when I ask the question, are you capturing cost savings? Everybody raises their hand. The next question, are you sharing that? Not so much. Guys from a reality perspective, cost savings validates your existence. You as a professional meeting planner in this industry, if you’re documenting the cost savings but you’re not sharing them, you’ve got to do that. You have to share that information.

Surveys, polling, measuring the next step beyond measuring is that if you know your objectives there’s more tools out there to say Okay, so the surveys, to the attendee when I send out my surveys. If I have 5, 6, 7, 20 bullet points of the things that I want you measure to see, basically answer the question are why we invested money in here and did we get that back? The type of event, Jordan, would also dictate that. If I’m doing a product launch and I have my sales people there and potential buyers there, what was the return? If I spent a million dollars on a product launch event, when am I going to expect to get that million plus back, 60, 90, 120 days, 6 months? That in effect will be a measure to. Every event would have different ways but common ones. Like I said, you’re going to be your polling your surveys, cost savings. Also, another piece of the process is going to be your comparison grid. If I’m in an RFP phase and I have 20 properties responding to that RFP, I’m often creating some type of comparison grid or something back to my stakeholders saying, Okay, 10 properties responded. this is their availability and the rate meeting space that they’re providing back. That would be another tool to measure my response in this steps of managing meetings and events.

Jordan Schwartz

I’ll tell you, before I was in software, I was studying psychology and specifically how you would measure people’s attitudes. The focus of my research was around trying to find ways of measuring people’s attitudes without asking them questions because there’s always biases. You put out a survey and, well, sometimes it’s only the disgruntled people who answer it and that gives you some skewed responses or people, if they feel grateful for the event, they feel reluctant to say bad things about it because they don’t want to hurt feelings and tings like that. I’m always interested in finding ways of measuring that don’t depend on self report. Just things like how many people showed up for a networking reception, can tell you something. If your goal is to get engagement with your membership or your attendee audience, knowing how many people show up for optional events can Be A Good indirect measure of that.

Rob Wilson

Right.

Jordan Schwartz

It is not entirely within the meeting planners control but it is somewhat To the extent that they’re invested in the success of the event overall and they will they want the event to be successful then they need to take responsibility for that.

Rob Wilson

Right, exactly. As Jordan was talking and I have but this slide up here that talks about process dependent versus people dependent. I put this slide up in both live sessions so where I’m speaking and then I’ve also done this a couple times on webinars. They’ll be 3 slides that kind of talk to this point. I’d like to ask the audience, as Jordan was talking this slide was up there, what came to your mind when you saw this slide, process versus people dependent. I’m going to talk a little bit of the next 2 slides. I’d like to ask that, for those who have anything, and don’t think about the response, just what was the first thing that came to your mind when you saw this slide. Put up as a question, I’ll stop deliberately at the end of the next 3 slides so that Bob can maybe share some of that. Oftentimes, when I view this, we have some very interesting comments.

When you look at process dependent versus people dependent, the reality is, we as individuals, we connect. Some some of it is, we have our identity attached to what we do at work. That’s great, nothing wrong with. That that’s how we in effect show value to our team and organization. When you bring up the idea of moving information to a repository that all of your team can access, that could be a shared drive in your organization, it could be up in the cloud, Google Docs, whatever that be. You’re really moving toward being one knowledge transfer among not only yourself but your team members. Where you’re moving towards an environment that’s process dependent versus people dependent. I’m going to touch on these.

Here’s an example of some pictures. The top portion where your boxes are. Each box is a process. Typically when you’re a process the present environment, every person on the team understands every step of the process but they’re proficient in one piece of the process, which is good. That is important because that’s how things are going to get done efficiently. You’re going to be productive and so forth. In effect, every step from beginning to end, all the partners, they understand the process and can deliver their piece for the process. Versus the bottom. You have data and processes inside [inaudible 00:23:15] that do not talk and don’t know what is happening before or what is happening after their stuff. The challenge becomes, well, if our organizations is people dependent and we begin to think about moving things to being processes dependent, where’s my value? I understand that initial comment but in reality, you and your team members become much more valuable moving towards a process dependent environment versus people dependent. My next slide is a perfect example of that because when a person on your team is not available, for whatever reason, and you’re people dependent, you’re hosed. Everything stops.

Jordan Schwartz

When you say, what’s my Value, you’re speaking from the perspective of these people in the organization who are saying, “Well, wait a second, if I’m just part of a process and it could go on without me then maybe I’m not I’m not important.”

Rob Wilson

That’s oftentimes the initial response. It’s [inaudible 00:24:31] concerns us, like what do you mean if I’m not there, if I’m not in my role, then things can’t happen. To which extent.

Jordan Schwartz

I was going to say that I think a lot of people take pride in being the go to, I’m the only one who knows all the pieces and all the parts. It good to be that important and it feels to be relied on and to be amazing in that way. I think what you’re saying is that it’s dangerous too. Am I capturing that?

Rob Wilson

Well I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily, when you say people, when you say dangerous, you mean the people dependent, is that what you’re talking about.

Jordan Schwartz

Yeah.

Rob Wilson

Yeah very much so. Here’s the reality, is that when you look at …. Just take your current environment. Current environment you’re working and you can probably say well some of us are process dependent and some of us are people dependent. You already know who that is when I say that, it’s like, yeah, these people whatever be. You’re right Jordan when you say it’s potentially dangerous to begin. I can probably bring up a scenario, talk about any event or one of those individuals that only knew how to do this one thing, was not available. Sick, vacation, maybe they were have another event and then everything pretty much stopped. Now, sometimes the comments around this is, well that could be true in an environment that’s process dependent. To an extent, an environment that is process dependent every individual on the team knows the entire process. They know step 1, they know step 20, all the way through. If one of those individuals is not there the process will still be completed because everybody knows the process, it just may not be done as highly which is okay but at least it’s documented and done.

Here’s the value, not only to you and your team members but to the organization, is that when you want to promote, you can now look at it from the perspective of, hey, I know how this needs to operate and I can now go educate other people. You now become interchangeable and much more valuable to yourself, the organization, your self-esteem and your organization. I understand the initial idea of being people dependent is like, I’m going to lose my job. I get that fear but the reality is that the more that you share, and you know this because you’re in an environment or you’ve been in environments that do you share, that do rely upon each other. The process is defined and you can see how much better, efficient and productive that team and the organization work.

Jordan Schwartz

It’s nice to hear you say this because I’m a beekeeper.

Rob Wilson

Right.

Jordan Schwartz

A talk that I’ve given a few times at conferences and what beekeeping has taught me about event planning. One of the points that I make is, in a beehive there’s different roles, right. There’s the guards who make sure that invaders don’t get. There are the nurses who take care of the larva. The foragers who go out and gather the nectar and the honey. One of the interesting things about the hive is, if you go in and you remove all of one role, the bees will just shift, they’ll shift over from other roles and start filling in the missing role. Always talk about how it’s so important to have an organization where people are able to adapt and everyone can do every job and take up the slack amongst each other. It turns out, this whole time, I was just talking about Lean Six Sigma, who knew?

Rob Wilson

Jordan that’s a fabulous example. The reality is, the reason why the bees do that is because the understand the entire process. They understand the entire process and the importance of each role. When you take a step back, you’re like, okay, what does this have to do with LEAN or Six Sigma. well again, go back to the very beginnings. LEAN and Six Sigma are about process Management. That’s it. If the process is not defined, you can’t manage it. Sharing information, knowledge transfer, document that information. Now you might feel like Bob look, I’m by myself, I got 20,000 apps on. I get it. I totally get that. If you can, begin to start documenting your processes. Maybe the opportunity exists to work with HR. to say look, I have one of my processes to find, can you go try to hire somebody that can do this job for me. Now, you’re at 19,999 apps instead of 20,000. There’s a purpose there. The ability to do knowledge transfer, documents that information, is extremely important.

While this is up here, I’m going to deliberately stop. I did check as Jordan was talking and I was too, it looks like we had a couple comments around this. This is awesome. I just want to review these profits equal forced outcome, people equals organic outcome, depending on process or server that you follow. This is great, in my mind when I talk about the type of content, the objective is to begin to get you thinking beyond meetings and events. Does this apply to what you ? Yes, every day. Guarantee it. The more that this becomes how you work, how you operate, how you as an individual become really how you work through, not only meetings and events but how you work with your relationships with your coworkers, with your spouses, significant others. This now becomes how you work. It’s a natural transition, translation into what you do and how you deliver your meeting and events.

I’m going to ask these 2 questions. I want them to just percolate, just let them be there in the back of your mind. When this is over and you’re working through the days and the weeks and the months coming, is your organization process dependent or is it people dependent? Is your department process dependent or people dependent? You might feel like, Rob they’re same. No. No way, shape or form. I know organizations that I work with and have been involved in, where are the department is very process dependent. Very. Every team member knows what their job is but they also understand the entire process but as an organization, no way. It was totally people dependent.

Jordan Schwartz

Are you saying that … Is there are good at the back here? Is process dependent better than people dependent or are you asking so that people can evaluate and can distribute and can think about which is appropriate?

Rob Wilson

Exactly, it is to think about it because I would say as a whole, I would say that the more you can become process dependent, the more efficient, you, your team and your organization is going to be. You know what, I would say that there are some areas where it makes sense to be people dependent but my recommendation is the someone else know how to do that job because if that person is gone, everything could stop. It’s really to begin the thinking and think about it.

Another acronym that you may hear it is SIPOC, it is an acronym, stands for suppliers, inputs, process outputs to customers What this is really here is, oftentimes when I talk about this people say, okay, good information but how? What do I do? I’m now leaving this session, this webinar. I’m now left a session at one of the industry events. You’ve thrown this acronym at me called SIPOC, what do I do? How do I even start this process? That’s a fabulous question. First of all you start with what you know. You don’t need to go buy something. You don’t need to go do something that’s different. The reality is, what do you know today and can I start filling in some of these gaps? When you start looking at consistently around LEAN Six Sigma. It is changing the way you think and it’s using these terms.

In our industry we have very common acronyms. CMP, Certified Meeting Professional, CMM. The list goes on. I mean the alphabet soup in our industry is unbelievable. Those acronyms are specific to our industry. When you put those acronyms on your resume, CMP, SMNC, CHSE, you know and continue on down the road. To an HR person that’s not familiar with that industry, they do not know what that means. If you’re able to put LEAN Six Sigma on your resume, those are things that transcend all industries because that’s around process management.

Jordan Schwartz

[crosstalk 00:33:42] The other real value, when I think about these acronyms, I mean it’s certainly useful to be able to explain to other people what you know, but I think of them as sticks to help me or mnemonics to help me remember. When I’m thinking about … It’s like the King Philip eats fresh green spinach as a way to remember what Kingdom phylum, in the way that biology is organized. I know there’s another one for remembering Mercury Venus Mars etc. They’re useful ways to jog your memory into organizing your thoughts. I think there’s a lot of abstract ideas like, well I need to make things more efficient. Okay well, how do I do that? Is that right? I guess SIPOC is one way to help me take all of this information that may come a little too close to, I can’t see the forest from the trees. Helps me pull back and drop the different components into some neat buckets that I can then deal with in some predictable ways.

Rob Wilson

Yeah. Exactly. Really where you this acronym SIPOC is in process mapping. Have you, today, have you have you ever mapped the process of planning an event. Typically it’s on a Power Point, maybe it’s a word document or cud be nothing more then sitting in your office and using post-it notes and saying here’s step 1, here’s step 2, here’s step 3. Don’t get into the weeds, you don’t need to do that right now. Very high level. Very high level. When you look at managing an event who are the suppliers to an event? What are the inputs? What are the things that you need to move forward with planning an event?

What are the processes? Again, you don’t need to be at the detailed level because that’s not important right now. We’re just mapping the process. Every one of these silos, if you will, have their own tasks to deliver that step That’s not where we need to be right now. This is very high level. What’s our outputs to that and ultimately who is our customers? You use this acronym to begin the process of mapping the process. In process mapping, we are in a meetings and events so what does not look like in your organization?

Jordan Schwartz

I’m sorry, if I can just ask you a question on that previous slide. Your outputs seem like, for example the output countersigned contract for a very discrete part of the overall event. Like, obviously, what I’m trying to produce the value that I’m delivering is not a contract but again engagement or education or whatever it is. Do I use this same model, as I think about the whole event, or is this really, as I think about each phase of the process?

Rob Wilson

That’s a great question. I would do both, Jordan, because the reality is you want to use this to map of the entire event from beginning to end. Every step of the event could have it’s own process mapping and it should because you’re going to have multiple people involved in different steps of the process. The example here, of the countersigned contract and the outputs column that would be more of the high level. Then you get into, I want to deploy a mobile app, I want to apply Pathable to my annual meeting. In my mind, I’m going to look at, what does that mean? What’s the process now? Well, I need to get with Jordan. I need to … and that starts a whole other process of, what do I want to deliver? Do I have sponsorships and exhibitors? What do I want my attendees to do and see? Do I want them to be able to engage, connect? What does that look like? I would say that you want to map the process of the entire event but then, at each component of that event, you can do the same thing. They’re all going to have their own tasks. They’re all going to have their own deliverables.

Jordan Schwartz

Okay.

Rob Wilson

Getting into LEAN, how do you do this? LEAN in your organization. The very very very first thing, if you do not have management buy in, your level of success will be extremely low. That’s the truth. The very first thing you need to do you have a whole is, do you feel like this idea process management and becoming more focused towards process dependent versus people dependent, do you feel like it’s an important? Do you fell like this is something that you could undertake. Again, you might be like, this is just too overwhelming to an extent but let’s start with what we know today. What you have available to you at your fingertips? You don’t need to go ask for money to go buy some stuff. You all have post-it notes. You all have word. You have Excel. You have these things readily available. If you don’t, you can go to Google Docs and get them for free. If you start working through the stuff and you go, you know what, this could be successful. Begin with what you know. Write your own story. If you start seeing the success, start sharing with this with some of your colleagues within your own department. Once that stories written and it is successful, take it to your manager.

A perfect example which I mentioned already earlier today, are you documenting your cost savings? 100% of people said, “Yep sure are.” Are you sharing it? Not so much. That’s a problem. That’s a perfect opportunity to you again validate your existence. How are you, as an individual professional meeting planner in your organization, how are you showing value and sharing it? That is going to point specifically to the very first bullet point. When I show my value, look what I’m doing, look what our team is doing for this organization and we can make it better. You’re going to have a story to get management buy in, to have a successful implementation. It can be done but you’ve got to start with what you know today. It’s a simple story, you already know this but begins to write itself the more successful that it can be done. This is the beginning of LEAN Six Sigma in your organization. These truth, they don’t apply just to meeting and events, they could apply to every department in your organization.

Some of the resources that I find very valuable, Google is your friend. If you start Googling some of these terms out there, you’re going to find a lot of resources. Oftentimes people say, “I want to go and get certified.” First of all LEAN Six Sigma is public domain. Nobody owns the content, nobody owns the curriculum. There are three organizations that are recognized worldwide, that if you get a LEAN Six Sigma certification from, the whole world recognizes that from this type of process management. One is GE. Another one is Honeywell. Then the bottom point there, ASG.org. That’s an organization that if you go through their curriculum, you go through their classes and so forth. If you get a certification through Honeywell, GE or ASG.org, it is recognized across the world. I did my certification at Honeywell here in Kansas City. It was a requirement for all associates that if you work for running Honeywell you had to get at least green belt certified. I went through that process and oftentimes people ask, “Where can I learn more?” This would be where, how to answer that question.

Some of the contact information. We’re done about 15 minutes earlier so this would be a fabulous time if you have other questions, to ask those. I’m going to pass you back to Jordan to finish things up.

Jordan Schwartz

Famtastice. Thank you Rob. I’m going to take a moment here and just try to summarize so I know what I walking away with here. LEAN and Six Sigma they’re different but they’re complementary processes. LEAN focuses on reducing waste and improving. Six Sigma focuses on reducing errors. They’re both iterative processes where you make explicit what your goals are. Define how you’re going to measure them. Execute in a process driven way, trying to take some of the dependencies on individuals out so that they are more resilient to individual failings. Whether those be people leaving or just bottling up information in one person. Then, bring that back around to defining a new set of goals and a new set of of measurements. Did I miss any big ideas there?

Rob Wilson

Yep you’re right on it. Here’s the thing. You know my hope is here, during this time together, that one, you began a better understanding of LEAN Six Sigma, but you began to change your thinking. You know what I could do this. When I’ve done these sessions for, some comments that we got from evaluations, some of them have been, “Well, we do this today.” You know what? You’re right, you do. The difference here is the terminology in the language. Again, our industry is very focused on the acronyms but if you’re not a part of our industry, you have no idea what CMP means of CMM. You start talking about LEAN and Six Sigma, your executive, the C-suite, they know what that means because that helps the organization, not a specific department. That’s the different. One of the biggest challenges that we have as an industry there is a perception, it’s wrong, but the perception is meeting planners are party planner. That’s wrong. That is not true.

We are very instrumental to the future of an organization. When we keep ourselves in silos, we’re not sharing information, we’re not using terminology that executives and C-suite understand, that perception doesn’t change. But you begin to understand and use this language of LEAN and Six Sigma process management and process dependency and so forth, that will change. You write your own story within your own department. Your own team. Sharing that with your manager, sharing that with your stakeholders. Things will change. This is terminology, This is language. This is process management that transcends all industries. That’s why this is different. That’s why it’s important for us as individuals, as part of this industry, to be in it to really grab hold of this and say how do we change the perception of professional meeting planners to people that are instrumental in delivering the mission statement for the organization that you work for.

Jordan Schwartz

Yeah. I think the iterative part is interesting here as well. I mentioned earlier that Jack Welch and his philosophies were influential when I was at Microsoft but I remember one of the controversial interpretations of that. It’s something that Jack Welch did at GE, where every year they would evaluate all of their employees and they would take the bottom 10% and they would fire them. Then the next year they would do the same thing, and the next year they’d do the same thing. I mean on the one hand it can feel like you’re going to run out a percentages pretty quick but, of course, you’re filling people back in and by constantly, iteratively, removing the lowest performers, you get a high performing organization. At least that was the theory. There was some controversy on whether that was healthy or fair etc.

I can see the same ideas applying to waste. You say, Well, okay. I can’t fix my whole event. I can’t fix my whole process but I’m going to find the number 1 source of spend that I can address or I can find … Maybe it’s environmental concerns. What’s the biggest carbon impact that I’m having this year? I’m just going to go address that this year. Then next year I’m going to do the same thing and next year I’m going to do the same thing. Initeratively that I will be improving over time until I can take my $12 dollar company and turn it into a $280 billion dollars company. What Jack Welch said.

Rob Wilson

Yep. There you go. Exactly.

Jordan Schwartz

Do we have any questions that we’d like to address from the audience. Not so far. It seems like most of the questions have been addressed as we’ve gone through the process.

Rob Wilson

Fantastic. I do see that some people been asking is this recorded? Will the slides be available? The answer to both of those questions is yes. We’ll be sending out an e-mail in the next couple days with links to all of this. Again, if you would like more information about meeting evolution and their strategic meetings management tools for managing your entire lifecycle of your event or your events. I know that you work with a lot of companies that have dozens, if not hundreds of events per year. Reach out to Rob or Bob. You got their contact information there. If you’re interested in learning more about event apps can improve the engagement at your event or help build relationships. Not only at events but before and after through desktop web communities. We would love to hear from you here at Pathable.

This is going to be an ongoing educational series of webinars. We’ve got another one coming up next month. How photos are being used at events in novel ways. Tim White has showed me some matrix style tools that they use to create some really really fun and exciting photo engagement at events. We’ve got a few more after that. If you go to Pathable.com/webinars, where you signed up for this one, you can see that. There are a few others that we have not yet added but will be coming in the months following. We’re finalizing details there. Once again, everybody, thank you for spending time with us today. I hope this was helpful. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions. Rob, Bob thank you sharing.

Jordan Schwartz

Thank you everybody, have a great day.