John Corr’s comment (9 March 2007) in Andrew Downard’s Six Sigma Sucks blog (1 August 2006) showed the lack of understanding of how Six Sigma is applied in the service industry. While preaching a certain methodology it’s good to do some research first. A great example of how Starwood does continuous improvement in its hotels:

Simple problems – Starwood uses a simple methodology in its ’Starwood Cares’ program to tackle simple straightforward problems. Projects like this have a short deployment time, ranging from days to within a week.

Less simple problems – use Innovation Transfer (projects transferred from successful projects in other hotels) or Quick Hits (projects for simpler issues). The effort and deployment time of these methods are a fraction from a DMAIC project.

Complex problems- use DMAIC!!

While the first two methods could be known as Lean, the idea is to use different methods to tackle different issues so as not to get the Six Sigma resources spread over too thinly. At project selection stage, entries are reviewed and asked – ‘do we need Six Sigma for this project?’ If the answer is ‘no’ then the simpler methodology is used. Also in the service industry, there’s also a need to enhance customer satisfaction and service values, not just pure financial benefits. In the service industry, service quality and sales are related anyway, though in deferred time frame. Increase in quality of service does not normally impact on the profit and loss account in 1-2 months time but statistics show that great customer satisfaction index normally equals increased returning guests and increased sales within a slightly longer time.

Interesting blog there, Andrew, you’ve got comments right up to a year later. I’ve meant to put this in the comment box but ran out of word space.

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