Lean Six Sigma for New Year’s Resolution

Another new year, another resolution?  Here’s an idea to make it work this time or at least make it a little more successful.  It’s something that is used quite effectively in the business world so why not use it in other non-business situations, including personal new year resolutions.  It is a technique or set of techniques called Lean Six SIgma.  One tool that could be really effective for a new year resolution is the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control).


Say, your goal for the new year is to exercise more. You can use DMAIC to outline the steps to help you attain this goal.

The first step is to Define this goal.  Be specific about what you want to achieve.  Define the problem, define the solutions.  Your goal of exercising more can be further defined.  Define what you want to achieve by exercising more.  Define the problem or the current state.  Are you exercising at all now? And how much exercising are you doing?  And define what ‘more’ means when you say exercising more.  Quantify it and be specific. Defining the goal, the problem, the current state, and the solutions should help you come up with a solid plan that you can follow.  It would also be helpful if you set a goal that is S.M.A.R.T.E.R.  Let your goal be:








So instead of saying your goal is to exercise more, perhaps you can say that your goal is to exercise 5x a week.  It is a goal that is specific and measurable.  Five times might not be realistic for some people so perhaps you can even be more specific by saying: “exercise 3x a week the first quarter of the year, exercise 5x a week by mid-year (June 1st), and exercise 6x a week the 2nd half of the year.”  Goal-setting in such a way allows you to have a more attainable, more realistic goal, and it is time-bound.  

Measure your progress.  Set some milestones that can serve as bite-sized low-hanging fruit kind of goals.  One big goal can get overwhelming and can thus derail you or demotivate you.  So in addition to the one big goal, set weekly milestones.  It works for people training for marathons.  With their main goal of running a marathon by the end of the year, they break that goal up into chunks and set their goals to run an extra mile per week.  It makes it more tangible, realistic, and measurable.  Seeing that you’re reaching the little milestones and your little goals that you’ve set  frequently can bring such a rewarding feeling.  And that’s just it, these little rewards or results can help you keep going and focused with your eyes constantly on the prize.  

Measuring and tracking your progress can drive your behavior and actions toward a very realistic and very attainable goal.  Analyze the results.  Being able to see the numbers (e.g., the speed, the distance, the number of times per week) and really to try to work at it can give you something tangible and something results-oriented.  In this example of training for a marathon, you want to be able to analyze your training so that you become aware of your strengths and weaknesses.  Your analyses could reveal several things.  Perhaps you need work on uphills.  Perhaps you run worse after meals or perhaps your best runs are in the morning.  You want to be able to use that data to optimize your training routine.  You can also use that data to refine the areas needing improvement.  

Set a plan to evaluate your progress.  Take time to evaluate and re-evaluate.  Not only will it tell you whether you’re progressing toward your goal or not but this will help you keep going and motivated for the longer haul.  It keeps you engaged in the process and in your progress.  It also allows you to make course corrections.  If you hit a plateau, just look at your progress and see where you can re-adjust your goals.  

This may sound very businessy but it is a very popular business approach and it has worked successfully for many projects and project managers.  It’s a nice framework that offers a strategic approach to keeping your new year resolutions invigorated throughout the year.