Change Management Project Management Strategy

From Strategy to Reality of Six Sigma deployment

I am very sure there are millions of articles and thousands of books written on the subject of Six Sigma and Lean deployment since its been popularized by Jack Welch, GE back in mid 1990s. Enough of reading what is Six Sigma and Lean, we need the real stuff everyone who subscribe to this site knows how to apply the tools and had seen the results. What we need to know is how to provide our customer consulting us to embark positively and sustain their Six Sigma program to bring significant results and not blame the consultant for their own failure. 

My approach is to sink deeper and address what is really happening in real life implementing Six Sigma Strategy and leaving no stones unturned. I believe this article will help reduce the steep learning curve and to avoid the mistakes made by many organizations who had embarked into the Six Sigma & Lean journey before laying a strong foundation. As a practitioner who has had the opportunity to work in two of the world’s largest organization in the shipping and logistics industry. Both had embarked into the Six Sigma journey during mid 2000. I had listed the different approaches from these two companies and identify the booby traps that you should avoid, and also listed the best practices that you can try to emulate. 

This article is for Six Sigma consultants, SME or MNC organizations before they embark into the Six Sigma & Lean journey and for those existing companies, it may not be too late to steer towards a more significant result. 

A. Preparation Phase

i. Vision & Goal 

Company A:  Deployment of Six Sigma as a supporting tool with an ultimate goal to generate customer loyalty by training their employees with Six Sigma and Lean knowledge across the departments.  

Company B: Deployment of Six Sigma as a separate function ultimately about improving business performance in a systemic and process driven way 

Booby Trap to avoid: Launching process excellence program as separate support function will create barrier due existing silos mentality   

Best Practice: Important to focus the goal on customer service satisfactions and customer loyalty which ultimately means organic growth.  Do recognize that your employees are the asset of your organization. They are the ones who run the daily operations and have the knowledge and skills to serve your customers.  It is the process that may not be efficient or capable to deliver to customers’ satisfaction. Make the people and process part of the supporting pillars to reach the goal. This is critical especially when the process improvement team gets together to reduce wastes and to improve the processes.

Base on experience, team members gets defensive when they start to recognize the very activity they had been employed to perform are non-value add. However, the purpose will be clearer to them they had to let go protecting their territory when the customer satisfaction is in jeopardy. Getting their buy-in from bottom up at this point is crucial to the successful implementation of solutions. 

If the goal is focus on business growth alone and managed by the Six Sigma department, there could be higher chance of resistance as the segregation in itself are not allowing the departments to buy-in to changes however effective they may be.  

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