THURSDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2014
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Ask Dr. Mikel Harry Organization & Strategy How should my company investigate Six Sigma and, once decided to move forward, sustain the initiative?

How should my company investigate Six Sigma and, once decided to move forward, sustain the initiative?

A really good way to begin your journey is to sell top management on the need for a “due diligence” investigation of Six Sigma.  Do not try to directly sell Six Sigma – only the “need” for conducting an investigation into the merits of Six Sigma, as well as the supporting practices. 

Uncovering the various aims, conventions, methods, and practices associated with a Six Sigma Deployment and Implementation (SSDI) is a very important undertaking.  As a first step toward this end, it is conventional practice for a senior executive to sponsor the inquiry.  Next, a team of 3-5 business executives are assembled to investigate and subsequently report on the following areas:

1) Goals and Objectives
2) Performance Metrics
3) Reward and Recognition
4) Program Sustainability
5) Program Renewal
6) Project Selection
7) Role Definitions
8) Role Responsibilities
9) Training Curricula
10) Leadership Principles
11) Accounting Systems
12) Management Responsibilities
13) Quality Maturity Levels
14) Benchmarking Practices
15) Executive Referrals
16) Corporate Testimonials
17) Consultancy Interviews
18) Previous Successes
19) Previous Failures
20) Tools and Methods

Although this particular list is somewhat generic in nature, it would likely be modified to fit specific circumstances.  In particular, it must be recognized that the ultimate success of an SSDI can be indirectly (and sometimes directly) influenced by the scope and depth of due diligence. 

For example, let us consider point number nine (Training Curricula).  Essentially, there are two types of Six Sigma curricula.  The first type is considered to be off-the-shelf (i.e., a canned Black Belt program of study offered by a local consultancy or university).  The second type is of the custom variety (i.e., a Black Belt curriculum that has been designed to fit a particular organization and business orientation).  If the implications of both are not well understood, and the wrong path is chosen, it is quite possible that the SSDI will loose momentum – thereby, increasing the risk of a “restart.”  Of course, a program reset is a business leader’s worst nightmare, at least where SSDI is concerned.

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