With respect to your question, my thinking may appear to be somewhat out-of-context. Nonetheless, it is my opinion that the premier tool, to be held in revere above of all others, is leadership. Tools such as Six Sigma, Lean, TQM, ISO, and all the rest are merely “enablers” of leadership. Not the other way around, as so many have tried to practice.
Six Sigma is a management tool that astute leaders can employ to masterfully intertwine their personal destiny with that of the corporation. Only when this happens does the potential for “magic” begin to surface. Not the smoke-and-mirrors variety of magic, but the kind of “real stuff” that dreams are made of.
The formulation of “operational magic” is what sound business is all about. When this type of magic begins to unfold, good leaders suddenly edge toward greatness, followers begin to consciously “work smarter and harder,” and the world (at large) takes notice. This is the magic of Six Sigma – it can transform good corporations into exemplars. As great leaders realize their interactive destiny, the corporation prospers – as do the employees, shareholders, and all of those so connected. People from all over the corporation begin “rising to the challenge.” When this occurs, an unstoppable revolution is mounted.
We must all remember that Six Sigma is the epitome and purposeful embodiment of “hope.” Remember, it is “hope” that fuels the “collective will.” It is “hope” that moves people to suddenly align their values, aims, and goals in a common direction. This is what leaders do – they create “hope” where there is little to none. In turn, leaders take hope and forge it into a collective will (a type of force) that is capable of creating quantum change.
Leaders create and energize hope by realizing visible and measurable success, not just one project at a time, but by the force of many, simultaneously. Yes, it is hope that drives the human spirit to accomplish great things. Hope is the muscle of Leadership. Without hope, leaders have nothing to “sell.” Without something to sell, they are just another player on the field of mediocrity.
The collective “shock and awe” of Six Sigma projects is one way to ignite the stove of executive hope. It is the sudden, collective, decisive, and repeatable success of Six Sigma that causes employees to believe their company is “the best.” When this type of attitude pervades an organization, it then becomes “boundary-less.” As this occurs, innovation takes hold.
Essentially, the Six Sigma initiative was designed to “raise the bar” so high that people were forced to individually and collectively reexamine the way in which the work got done, not just tweak the existing work processes. Given this inaugural aim, it should be more apparent that Six Sigma is about innovating new ways of doing things, not just fixing things or incremental gain. From this perspective, it would seem that many have forgotten or sidetracked the originating purpose of Six Sigma.