Chief of Talent & Operations and Lean Sigma Six Master Black Belt
Lean Six Sigma For Advertising
When I tell people that I run a Lean Six Sigma (LSS) practice in an advertising agency, they look at me like I’m crazy. How can something created for manufacturing benefit a creative process?
The answer is easy. We live in an era where our clients want what they want faster, cheaper and with more effective output. They also want better integration across all media and disciplines in an ever-changing and complex media & social environment.
The premise of the LSS methodology is to understand how a current process performs through data and measurement. The key is to find the things that happen inside the process that drive that performance, and then to understand the root causes behind those triggers in order to create solutions that will improve that performance. This methodology doesn’t change regardless of what process you are looking to fix.
The key to going “faster” and to cutting out unnecessary costs is to find the culprits of waste in a process and to develop solutions to eliminate and/or minimize them. Just like in manufacturing, there are 7 sources of waste which you are guaranteed to find in every advertising process:
- Transportation – moving items from one location to another; i.e. routing creative for approvals.
- Inventory – a build-up of work to be done; i.e. # of briefs a creative team works from.
- Motion – people moving around from place to place; i.e. getting to and from clients.
- Waiting – delays, downtime; i.e. what don’t we wait for!?
- Over-processing – providing more value than necessary; i.e. unnecessary meetings
- Over-production – making too many of something (more than necessary); i.e. copies for a meeting.
- Defects – mistakes, rework; i.e. client requested revisions to creative ideas.
Our success in making Lean Six Sigma improvements have come when we see a process in full. This entails looking at the process on both sides of the table — Agency and Client – and working together to find the right root causes to the process issues. Doing that allows you to fix the root causes wherever they are, whether they lie on the Agency side or the Client side. Not only does this improve how we (the Agency) deliver to our Clients, but it will also improve our Client’s operation as well. Win, win!
Using the LSS methodology at the Y&R Group has driven improvements across various client engagements:
- Decreased man hours, cycle times and cost for brief development, creative development and production
- Decreased time for scoping and approvals
- Decreased rounds of both internal and client rework loops
- Decreased errors
- On time delivery of projects
- Reduced variation of project delivery time
- Increased team capacity
More recently our clients have expressed an increased interest in our Lean Six Sigma expertise – reaching out to us to help them to improve their own internal processes – even those that don’t directly impact the Agency process. And we’ve had notable success in doing this.
Many of our client businesses have their own process excellence initiatives, but not always in their marketing organizations. Marketing is not always a straightforward process, similar to our creative environment, and so not always easy to see how LSS can be implemented. Given that we have 14 years of experience running LSS improvement programs in a creative world, we are well positioned to be able to help our clients in running LSS improvements to benefit their own environment.
A couple successful examples are as follows:
- We helped a client to improve their process of assigning SKUs to their products – cutting down on their manual processes in order for the process to run faster and with less errors.
- We helped to improve a client’s financial budgeting process – streamlining for a more efficiently run process.
Y&R Group can simply provide training to our clients so they can launch their own LSS practices or we can provide the leadership needed and run the initiatives for them.
Our experience shows that Lean Six Sigma is a methodology that can improve ANY process. It cuts down on complexity, improves effectiveness and drives out unneeded costs. Even in a creative service world!
About Madeline Park: Madeline is the Chief of Talent & Operations at the Y&R Group and the Company’s Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt. She has worked at the Y&R Group for 27 years. She started in Account Management at Y&R, leading client teams; and has been running the Company’s Lean Six Sigma practice since 2006.