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Q&A with Lynne Herer Smith

Lynne Herer Smith is the deputy director of investment workflow on the Finance & Strategy Team for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She will be giving her keynote presentation at the IIE Engineering Lean & Six Sigma Conference Tuesday, Sept. 30 at noon. 

IIE: How do lean and Six Sigma methods play a role in what you do for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation?  

Smith: Lean and Six Sigma is a management approach that we use to deliver value-added services to our internal customers. It is a way of working and a useful vocabulary and set of tools that allows us to …

  • Be relentlessly customer-focused
  • Focus on outcomes
  • Use data to drive decision making
  • Apply appropriate rigor
  • Break down silos through effective cross-functional work

IIE: What is the biggest issue or challenge surrounding lean and Six Sigma implementations?  

Smith: Change acceleration and balance – collaboration vs. getting things done, scope vs. resources at hand, want-to-do vs. need-to-do

IIE: What do you plan to discuss in your keynote presentation? 

Smith: I will share experiences from my first two years at the world’s largest private foundation. Using stories from the work my team has done, I will highlight the many similarities – and a few differences – between the philanthropic world and other types of organizations in which conference participants apply their process improvement expertise.

  • Part one: Overview of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – similarities to corporate, government and academic entities
  • Part two: Investment harmonization – the foundation’s initiative to both standardize and improve
  • Part three: Three leadership lessons learned

IIE: What would you like attendees to take away from your presentation? 

Smith: As lean Six Sigma practitioners in many different types of industries and organizations, we have more in common than not. The adaptability/scalability of the lean Six Sigma approach is one key reason why it is effective in many different settings. While it is necessary to have solid technical skills, it is not sufficient. It will all come down to the ability to lead others through transformative change; a lean Six Sigma approach can help.

For more information about Lynne Herer Smith and the other IIE Engineering Lean & Six Sigma Conference keynote speakers, go to the Keynote Speakers page at www.iienet.org/leansixsigma. 



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