According to research from George Easton and Eve Rosenzweig, both associate professors of information systems & operations management, a team leader’s social capital and experience leading projects of the same type are factors in the effectiveness of an improvement team. By using six years of six sigma improvement project data from a Fortune 500 consumer products manufacturer, the researchers reached a rather surprising finding regarding a team leader’s social capital. Improvement teams do not appear to benefit from the leader’s experience working with the current team members on prior projects. What matters instead is the team leader’s experience working with a variety of people on prior improvement projects. The researchers suggest that the experience of dealing with many different individuals allows improvement team leaders to better identify suitable people to join their teams. Such a variety of experience also likely makes team leaders more politically astute when determining projects to pursue. In addition, the professors found that a team leader’s experience with the same type of project is important during the early stages of a six sigma implementation. The importance of this kind of experience declines as the system becomes more mature. The professors suggest that in a mature six sigma deployment, the organization’s cumulative body of documented learnings may well substitute for a team leader’s own prior experience leading a particular project type.
George Easton Associate Professor of Information Systems & Operations Management
Eve Rosenzweig Goizueta Foundation Term Professor of Information Systems & Operations Management