Six Sigma, Lean Sigma, Continuous Improvement and a few other labels you could name all define initiatives aimed at improving organizational performance. Regardless of which one you are called to execute, there are a few common strategies to ensure success.
De-mystify the initiative. Often people will trapped in set thought patterns and need help breaking out, or do not understand the real purpose and value of the initiative. The answer here is to keep it simple. Overcome complacency and resistance by being transparent and as always, communicate, communicate, communicate.
Consider beginning quietly. Instead of making a big splash with lots of hype, simply select a small number of projects that will demonstrate improvement and value, and go do them. Set up the teams, assign leaders, give them clear charters, and then get out of their way. In four to six months all should be complete and your teams will be able to point to their improvements. Before long you have several improvements, a new culture, new team-based relationships, and emerging leaders.
Speak clearly. All of the various systems seek to improve speed, quality, and cost. Too often, however, the goals or results are stated in these bottom-line numbers. That may mean something to the CEO and CFO, but be meaningless to those who have to do it and live with the changes. For example, in the construction business we always state the project in terms of its performance against the scheduled completion date and cost. Delivering a project early not only saves project costs, it also accelerates revenue generation from the new project. Saying that the client can begin shipping 10,000 units a day thirty days earlier than planned is sometimes a more powerful statement than telling them you saved $100,000 on project costs.