The Amoeba Theory

Many companies look to Six Sigma to help them transform. They constantly talk of “weaving Six Sigma into the fabric of the company,” “having Six Sigma become part of their DNA” and “fundamentally changing the way they work.” These are all nice wugga words but without a real vision of what they want to transform into, these companies may find themselves “just changing.” I call this the “Amoeba Theory” because much like the way an amoeba changes shape, they may look different but in the end, they are still an amoeba.

When a company’s vision is properly executed, it translates in the marketplace as a brand. For example, Wal-mart is known for low prices, Nordstrom for customer service and Lexus for fine quality. When Six Sigma facilitates a learning environment that provides the opportunity to learn and apply new tools, methods and skills that are focused on achieving a specific vision, then Six Sigma can serve as the perfect catalyst for transformation. If the deployment strategy is too broad, meaning Six Sigma is supposed to improve “the way we work,” facilitating the shaping of a particular culture becomes more abstract and more difficult.

It might be time to ask yourself what type of cultural changes are happening in your company as a result of Six Sigma and if those changes are in sync with your vision or brand. If so, you should see noticeable improvement in those areas that differentiate your company in the marketplace. If not, you might find yourself the next victim of the Amoeba Theory.

Comments 1

  1. Sue Kozlowski

    We have had numerous consultants approach our organization over the past few years (after we started deploying Lean Six Sigma) promising to "transform" our culture. You have reminded us that we need to ask, as part of our due diligence – transform it into what?

    Without the vision for the future, DMAIC is just a nice set of tools that allow us to say that we’re "doing Six Sigma" – but to what end? Now that’s a great question!

    Thanks for your post – great visuals!

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