I am always amazed when I see in companies Six Sigma or Kaizen ”troops” running through the halls and departments, analyzing here and there, and unloading their ”mechanistic tool selection”, trying to improve everything. Obviously, such workshops are tranquilizers of doing something that looks efficient and structured. The members of the troops are well trained to understand analytics and they have all the methodological skills to find the right improvement measures. Exactly what we want them to do.

Well. Yes and no.

According to McKinsey, 70% of all change programs fail, but I see from my own experience that the odds of success can be greatly improved by taking into account that driving a transformation is not just about tools and methods only. There are always people behind. And with people, you can experience desires, fears, demands, even inter-cultural perceptions and certainly these lead to counterintuitive insights about how employees interpret their environment and choose to act.

My thesis – analytical and methodological are the ”hard skills” needed to do the job. ”Soft skills” on the other hand are needed to achieve the desired results in a people-oriented and customer-centered working environment.

In the following, I am going to list some of the major soft skills, which I see as essential within the Six Sigma and Kaizen troops in order to perform a successful business excellence transformation story in your company (in alphabetical order):

Conflict Competence

The conflict competence and quality of leadership determine how successfully conflicts are identified, analyzed and resolved. Anyone who deals with conflicts openly and constructively contributes greatly to exploiting existing potentials for profit.


Creativity is the ability to develop good and novel solutions to problems. Creativity is not just a talent, but also a matter of attitude and to a greater extent a question of techniques and methods.

Criticism Competence

Critical competence is the result of the ability, willingness, and practical implementation of constructive criticism and taking criticism. Critical competence also includes the ability and the will to provide feedback in an appropriate and reasonable manner.


Describes the willingness and ability to make decisions and to actually decide in situations that require a decision. Decision strength simultaneously involves the ability to objectively evaluate, compare, and obtain preference and judgment before taking a decision on the alternatives of action that are available for selection.


The art of listening and understanding the other. It’s about understanding what moves the other out of his world view and his horizon of experience to certain actions and opinions.

Facilitation Skills

This competence includes the ability to control conversations and interactions as a largely neutral participant. This control is carried out with the aim of making the respective communication situation as effective and efficient as possible. Moderation has proven to be a successful working method for organizing workshops and meetings efficiently.

Initiative and Perseverance

Initiative and perseverance as a soft skill reflect the personal willingness and ability to proactively and self-determinedly initiate actions and processes and to implement measures; to hold up against resistance over a longer period of time until the generation of results.

Intra-cultural / Inter-cultural Competence

This soft-skill includes the willingness and ability to act appropriately in one’s own and in another’s cultural contexts. These skills are particularly dependent on how well someone is able to adapt to different social norms and take them into account in their own actions.

Motivating Skills

Motivational ability as a soft skill is the ability to motivate and drive oneself and others to action. Self-motivation means above all to know oneself and one’s own feelings, to recognize, to understand, to accept and also to be able to influence goal-oriented and solution-oriented. Entrepreneurial motivation has to do with effectively establishing mission statements and values that then radiate permanently to employees.

Negotiating Skills

Negotiating skills describe the willingness and ability to conduct negotiations effectively and efficiently. This is primarily about negotiations from the business and political environment, less about negotiations in the sense of conflict mediation.

Networking Competence

Skills that are crucial to successful relationship management and networking. Relationship management and networking include building, maintaining and targeting contacts and contact networks.


Persuasiveness describes the ability to assert oneself argumentatively in communicative engagement with others, i. E. content, rhetoric, and charisma to establish or assert one’s own point of view as far as possible against opposing reasoning.

Presentation Skills

The presentation is the most important form of speech today and is gaining in importance as a soft skill, especially with the growth of project-based work in large companies.

Stress Management Assets

Stress management and stress prevention is the ability to cope with persistently high stress levels and to be able to focus all forces on the realization of their tasks and goals under high stress. Stress coping skills include the ability to recognize stress, its symptoms and causes, to work on it in a solution-oriented manner or to prevent it at all.

Systemic Thinking

Systemic thinking is the ability to see all actors and actions within a complex system. This implies the ability to evaluate actions not only in the context of simple cause-effect relationships and static actual analyzes, but to take into account a certain momentum of the system as well as the diverse interdependencies and long-term effects.

Team Ability / Team Work

The willingness and ability to interact productively and constructively with other people in groups. Above all, this is measured by the will and ability to work together with others for common goals and to fit into a group on a reasonable scale.

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