Lean Six Sigma at the World's Local Bank

The culture of a company should be the starting point for any Lean Six Sigma program, says Hemant Malhotra, Head of Process Improvement & Quality at HSBC Securities in Dubai. In this Process Excellence Network interview, Hemant discusses the key aspects to HSBC's Lean Six Sigma program and he explains why he believes that culture is just as important as methodology.

PEX Network: How are you using Lean Six Sigma in your operational excellence program at HSBC Bank?

H. Malhotra
: At HSBC we believe in reinforcing the cultural aspects of Lean Six Sigma rather than rigidly applying the methodology to achieve process excellence. In other words, we have adopted the essence of Six Sigma and Lean in the way we think and approach a problem. When designing and improving any process, for instance, we apply a common sense approach. At the front of our minds, is the ease of use (for business users and customers) as opposed to applying Lean Six Sigma tools rigidly to all situations. Our belief is simple: as employees start to embrace the culture of Lean Six Sigma, operational excellence will follow automatically.

PEX Network: What are your key priorities for the coming year?

H. Malhotra: Quite simply, we want to do more with less all the while keeping CTQ (Critical to Quality) intact. A key driver is to "achieve better satisfaction for our customers." As we achieve this with rationalized resources the returns follow automatically. This is easier said than done but we aim to achieve this by screening every thing through the Lean filters. The list is inclusive not exhaustive and we are talking about looking holistically at the process, the culture, the structure, the governance and the people right from the very beginning.

PEX Network: What would you say are the keys to keeping your Lean Six Sigma programs sustainable?

H. Malhotra: By embracing the culture behind Lean Six Sigma, it means that we do not get tied down by the methodology. A hammer can be used for putting in nails but it can also be used to break the wall. In other words, to keep the Lean Six Sigma programs sustainable the application has to be situation-dependent and flexible.

PEX Network: How much does the working culture of a company contribute to the sustainable success of Lean Six Sigma initiatives?

H. Malhotra: I think the working culture of the company is the starting point for any Lean Six Sigma program. If the culture is not change oriented, then the top priority should be to change that mindset. It's a very simple formula for success: Effectiveness = Initiative X Acceptance . You might have a wonderful set of people running the Lean Six Sigma Initiative but if you do not build the acceptance around it - i.e. the culture - it will never be effective.

PEX Network: What are the attributes of a successful working culture?

H. Malhotra: I believe that a successful working culture is one which constantly challenges status quo, Our world now is changing at a much rapid pace as compared to 10 years ago. To survive, organizations need to keep up with the pace of change and to be profitable, they need to make the changes proactively. A working culture shouldl have PACE, i.e., it should be:

  • Progressive
  • Adaptive
  • Creative
  • Encouraging