Essential Skills for Anyone Looking to
Improve Processes or Businesses
Every manager or person involved in any kind of process of business improvement (for me that is everyone) should
have a basic grasp of simple tools, techniques and approaches. If they did our companies would be far more
prosperous than they are today.
When I was a young consultant and trainer starting off I was lucky enough to be given lots of training and coaching in
what I now realise are essential skills for anyone looking to improve any process. Below is a list of what I think every
manager as a minimum should know
· Basic problem solving steps to solve a problem
· How to facilitate a group and get the most out of them
· How to build a team quickly and effectively
· How to develop a list of ideas, solutions or issues - brainstorming, brain writing, affinity diagrams
· How to collect data that is representative
· How to understand what data is and basic statistics
· How to represent data in graphical forms
· How to assess root causes - 5 whys, cause and effect diagrams, force field analysis
· How to reduce a list and select solutions - Pareto voting, weighted voting, paired comparisons
· How to present your solution or ideas effectively
Once you have this grounding you can go on to learn more advanced Lean and Six Sigma tools techniques and
methodologies. It will even make your learning easier and more effective as you can concentrate your time on the
tools and techniques which will really get to root causes or generate solutions or ensure that the solutions stick in the
Why then do we not train our staff in these essential tools and techniques? I think they have become expected by
some and others can't believe that their people don't know this stuff so never put them forward for the training. It is
not sexy to go on an essential skills training course but it is to go on a Lean Six Sigma Green or Black Belt course.
The terrible thing is we come across countless people who don't know how to run brainstorming sessions properly.
People don't know how to facilitate a meeting and get the most out of the people in front of them.
I think it is time that we started to teach these essential skills in schools, universities and colleges. For those past that
point in their lives I think they should spend some time learning and the practising these tools. They will need to be
given feedback but they will reap the rewards quickly. Meeting will be more effective, problems will be solved,
statistics and graphs will be understood and used, decisions can be made and presentations will be effective. All in all
businesses will improve.