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Essential? Perhaps not, but having a Lean or Six Sigma mindset within your organization is crucial because regardless of how people describe or over complicate these methodologies, Lean and Six Sigma have their foundations in the "voice of the customer" (VOC), which should be the focal point of any business. A well run Lean or Six Sigma program always keeps the company focused on the root of the why the business exists, the customer, which is again why I'd argue having leaders within any company focused on the customer and any removing/reducing any wasteful (or non-value added) activities that are identified by the Lean and Six Sigma mindset crucial to its success. Whether they call this focus or technique as Lean or Six Sigma doesn't matter, but executing with that customer mindset does. Just my 2 cents - Thanks!
I recently was certified in Six Sigma. At first I thought it wasn't applicable to my industry. Once I started studying it I realized it has a lot to do with my industry. I have improved profits through the efficiency of my staff in studying wasted movement in production.
I do see how it may not be as effective in other businesses. As for the necessity of hiring someone that is certified, I dont believe it is important.
Depends upon your business, of course, and whether you want to succeed.
Six Sigma is a methodology and toolkit. Black Belts are charged with saving twice their salary. Who wouldn't want costs cut, processes streamlined, and waste reduced? Do you think managers are so great at doing these things? Most aren't trained beyond the 5 basics, and some are completely ineffective.
So Six Sigma was started to whip them into shape. Furthermore, it is enterprise wide. The key lies in its working with company consensus, the so-called buy-in. Everybody fears or hates change, but would appreciate success that keeps them employed, no? If you aren't a Six Sigma shop, you're on your way out.
I recently published an article titled " STOP ERP Projects until you are a 5-Sigma Company"in LinkedIn. I think, the said article might partly answer the question as to how essential is six sigma. Here is the link.
Your comments / views, please.
Six Sigma is not essential at if you don't know how to apply it. If you know how to apply it then it is great but then if you know how to apply Six Sigma then you already know how to do process improvement. Process improvement is not rocket science.
Six Sigma is not essential. Being able to engage in a systematic approach for problem identification, root cause analysis, and process improvement are essential. Six Sigma is just one of many approaches that can be used.
Six Sigma grew out of GE's project management processes and it's a useful tool for managing a project. It's lost some of its luster in recent years, though.
My answer is that you need a consistent project management approach and methodology. After that, choose the one you're comfortable with and that imposes the least additional time burden and provides the necessary results.
Six sigma is an essential (and powerful) tool for high quality service delivery.
The costs involved are justified over a period of time.
Hello Jeremy, thank you for asking this question. I think there are many companies considering Six Sigma and would like to know if it would help them as well. As an engineering management consultant I have seen many small to mid-size companies that have tried to implement Six Sigma and have failed in the overall attempt. When I asked management, they said Six Sigma didn’t work for them even though I recognized aspects of the training being used as part of everyday business -so there is some value for everyone. Here are a few personal observations and opinions that may help you decide what is right for your business:
Quantity of product: The core of Six Sigma is statistical process analysis. If you don’t make enough widgets you won’t get reliable statistical data. Companies producing tens to hundreds of items per month probably don’t have enough of a dedicated process flow to be worth the overall effort of a full program. This does not have to be a manufacturing process, statistical analyses work equally as well for analyzing any process.
Management buy-in: Six Sigma requires top-down acceptance and integration. If the president of the company is walking around asking “Why are all these people are spending time going through filing cabinets and throwing out paper instead of working?” –then the company culture is probably not ready to accept the changes required to make Six Sigma successful.
Team participation: Another aspect of company culture is the effectiveness of cross-functional teams. Coming from an engineering management background I often hear “Spending engineering time on a manufacturing issue is a distraction from product development.” (this same sentiment can be applied to any department). In order for Six Sigma to work you have to dedicate resources to resolve issues affecting the process. This must be recognized as providing value otherwise it will be seen as a distraction and the program will be considered a failure.
Common language and tools: One of the greatest assets I have seen small to mid-sized business gain from Six Sigma (and Lean) training is a common set of tools and language for analyzing problems. This improves communication throughout the company. When a production line worker can point to a chart on the wall and say “See, that pareto shows a high reject rate for stripped screws, if I had a driver with a torque setting that wouldn’t happen.” –then the accountant knows why he is buying a new tool and usually approves the purchase right away. I have seen the language and analysis tools persist, even if Six Sigma was abandoned.
Reason for change: When I asked managers why they wanted to implement Six Sigma, it was usually because they were stuck in the “That’s the way we have always done it!” mode, expecting that Six Sigma was a fixed set of rules you can follow to be more efficient instead of a methodology for operating the business. Now that Lean principals have been integrated with Six Sigma (Lean Sigma), it is difficult for a company without experience to know where to start.
If you are considering a Six Sigma program for your company, I would suggest the following:
-Before involving any outside resources, write down a specific set of goals that you plan to accomplish by implementing the program.
-Identify all of the resources (departments) necessary to achieve those goals and have the department heads review, modify and sign-off on providing the necessary resources and participating in training. This will take a lot longer than you expect…
-Once you have a corporate vision, find a certified trainer and start the discussion with your written goals in mind. A good trainer will be able to identify if you need (and are ready for) a Six Sigma program or if you really need a “Lean” program designed around your specific goals and processes . An experienced trainer can explain in detail what needs to be done to make that happen –and this will be a reality check for your corporate vision.
-Your corporate vision will then need to be updated with the detail provided from the trainer and will need to go through sign-off again. If you achieve this, you are probably ready to implement Six Sigma. If not, consider targeted training and reorganization for specific areas of the company rather than an overall corporate program. Once benefits are seen in specific areas, the concept gains acceptance and is often adopted in other areas as well.