Date of Conferral







Sheryl Kristensen


Lean Six Sigma is a hybrid process improvement strategy employed to increase quality, speed, and efficiency in business processes. However, over 60% of organizations that attempt to adopt Lean Six Sigma fail, leading to a loss of resources and reluctance to engage in future improvement efforts. The purpose of this qualitative exploratory multiple case study was to understand how leaders customize Lean Six Sigma for organizational factors found in public agencies in the United States. This study was framed first by a definition of Lean Six Sigma that distinguished four separate elements and then the contingency theory of organizations. Semistructured interviews with 7 participants representing 6 organizations, Lean Six Sigma program documents, and field notes were used to collect data about how leaders customize Lean Six Sigma for organizational factors in their organizations. Analysis of textual data revealed that leadership engagement is critical for adoption and sustainment, the define, measure, analyze, improve, and control improvement methodology is too time consuming and complex, and improvement specialists work and manage the program in addition to their normal duties. Results of this research may contribute to positive social change by providing public agency leadership with a better understanding of capabilities, capacities, and complexities of Lean Six Sigma that can be better aligned within the organization, thus resulting in more efficient and effective public agencies supporting the communities they serve.