Benchmarking results consistently identify examples of Six Sigma success. Even so, getting “naysayers” on board is a continuous challenge. What do you tell them?

Nayism 16: We’ve been working projects on the same processes for the past 5 years. Just how many times are we going to reinvent the wheel?

This type of statement is frequently heard from folks that view improving a process as a one-time deal. It may be indicative of the “I’ve fixed everything there is to fix so can I go home now?” syndrome. You can approach this thinking by introducing the “Project Wheel of Reinvention” because it’s not about reinventing the wheel; it’s about working your way through the “wheel of reinvention.” So, here’s what I say . . .

At a macro-level, a company or corporation has one huge process that begins with an external customer and ends with the shareholder. This huge process is made up of an infinite number of sub-processes that span across numerous functions. An organization is usually segmented into functional areas (i.e., IT, Accounting, Operations, Maintenance, etc.) to facilitate the segmentation of work. Initially, Six Sigma projects begin at the functional level. This is usually the case because ‘functional silo’ thinking still exists in many organizations. Processes within a function are improved to the point that additional improvements can only be obtained by addressing cross-functional interfaces. The cross-functional aspects of a process are then improved until the process is performing near entitlement. The only way to get the next step of improvement is to redesign the process with DFSS. Once redesigned and implemented, improvements to the new process again begin at a functional level. Next cross-functional processes are improved and then they are again re-designed and then the functional processes are improved. . . are you dizzy yet?

This “Project Wheel of Re-invention” is constantly turning and must turn in order to move the organization forward. The constant cycling of projects that address functional and cross-functional process improvements and then re-design the process only to have functional and cross-functional projects again improve the re-designed process is necessary in order to keep up with changing expectations. Customers consistently expect more, technology facilitates better and faster results and expectations from shareholders constantly rise. If your project wheel of reinvention is not keeping pace with these changing expectations then you should brace yourself for that big “whoosh” sound as your competitors pass you by.

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