In the 4th century, the Roman emperor Constantine built the Hippodrome in what is now Istanbul, Turkey. The Hippodrome was the Daytona Super Speedway of chariot racing. An amazing example of architectural genius, the Hippodrome had 1/4 mile straight-aways andheld over 100 thousand spectators. Believe it or not, the facility even had luxury boxes and pit stalls. Hearing a description of the place makes one wonder if the chariots themselves were covered with sponsor decals.

TheHippodrome survived the fall of the Roman Empire but eventually fell into disrepair under the Byzantines. Nowadays the only visible portion of thebuilding is a wall at one end and the monuments built on the infield of the racing oval. The rest of thestructure is underground, layered over with centuries of building, demolition, and rebuilding.

By now you are probably wondering how in the world I’m going to tie this interesting piece of trivia to Six Sigma. Well, here goes:

My experience has taught me that many companies tend to work the same projects over and over again. In other words, control plans to maintain the original gains are rarely executed effectively. Insuch cases the key to maintaining the improvement is often related to whether or not someone from the original project team remains close to the process. When the last remnants of the team are displaced,or overthrown like the Romans, the process begins to decline. Enter the new team who, instead of using the work of their predecessors to take the process to the next level, starts all over. How much of the success of a Six Sigma program gets buried by new generations of well intentioned Black Belts and their managers? Quite a bit if the program doesn’t include a disciplined approachregarding control plans.

I guess the moral of the story is: don’t be the BB who is frowned upon in the history books a thousand years from now because you failed to implement a control plan to effectively sustain the success of a project. Who knows, some nutty blogger might write you up…

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