WEDNESDAY, APRIL 16, 2014
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Ask Dr. Mikel Harry Organization & Strategy I am new to Six Sigma. Can you please help me understand Six Sigma step-by-step?

I am new to Six Sigma. Can you please help me understand Six Sigma step-by-step?

On its way to disrupting the historical business continuum and changing its performance trajectory, an organization passes through a number of milestones.  Assuming a “typical” business, our discussion begins at time T1.  This is when the organization is functioning reasonably well — a stable force in its industry, capable of maintaining itself reasonably well.

The next milestone is T2, a time when a member of the senior leadership team, often the CEO or COO, begins to contemplate a level of performance beyond the existing knowledge and power base.  This recognition is followed by a period of exploration — during which various interventions are investigated to assess their capability to induce positive change. During this phase, the leadership team studies best-in-class organizations – often discovering that Six Sigma is a part of their genetic code.

Once the need for quantum change has been realized, we progress to T3.  This point marks a company’s initial exposure to Six Sigma .  Such an exposure sometimes happens by the intentional design of a conscientious executive, but more often by a chance eruption (e.g., information is acquired and exchanged in a network of interdependent encounters that energizing the need for due diligence).

The next milestone is T4.  At this point, the leadership team become aware that Six Sigma could be a viable intervention alternative and initiates a formal period of due diligence.  To facilitate this effort, the leadership team normally engages a consulting organization that will guide them to “through the progressive layers of the onion,” so to speak.  This is often accomplished by way of an “executive summit.”  Through such a summit the senior executive team develops the collective will and personal commitment to pursue Six Sigma.

Projecting further forward on the business continuum, we reach T5.  This is the time when the corporation “initializes” its Six Sigma initiative.  At this juncture, the corporation selects its senior champion, trains executives, prepares project champions, forms needed deployment structures, installs support systems, and primes the various deployment platforms for Six Sigma implementation.

The next milestone is T6 – training the first wave of black belts.  Related to this, T7 occurs when the results are documented from the first wave of Black Belt projects.  This is the “moment of truth.”  It is when tangible proof of the Six Sigma principle is first demonstrated.  Of course, this happens directly after the improve phase of DMAIC.

After this we move to T8, the point at which the Six Sigma intervention has reached critical mass.  This is when the Black Belt infrastructure becomes firmly rooted and several waves of application projects have been completed.  It is at this point that a corporation fully recognizes the benefits of Six Sigma and begins to contemplate expanding the initiative into other facets of the business. 

T9 is the hinge-point in time when the performance trajectory for an organization shifts from its historical slope to its future slope.  In other words, this is when the scope of Six Sigma is materially enlarged – a period when it is taken across all the various functions of the corporation (sales, finance,  legal, etc.).  Finally, the last milestone is T10 – the point of renewal.  This a very critical period for a corporation.  It is a time in which Six Sigma will “die a natural death” or “be born again” for another round of breakthroughs.

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