Communicate to Motivate

In fact changing environments, Six Sigma projects with typical lead times are perceived as slow. It might lead to disbelief in the methodology in the organization. Typical well lead projects go through a toll gate review, facilitated by the black belt, and with participation of (at least) the project champion, project sponsor and project team members when a DMAIC phase is completed. These review meetings are typical progress communication meetings. Best case, they happen very 4 to 5 weeks, worst case they don’t happen. Point is, even 4 to 5 weeks is perceived slow by management.

From the project team’s point of view, 4 to 5 weeks is a short time frame during which many activities take place. Lots of intermediate results are produced, all adding up to the completion of the DMAIC phase.

Experience has taught me how to break this perception of nothing much is happening. The answer is frighteningly simple: communicate, communicate, communicate.…

Here is an example: A typical report out at the closure of the measure phase is: data collection plan with all details, MSA results and baseline process capability.

By communicating the progress as it happens, you break the perception that nothing much is happening, you teach the organization about the tools that you have applied, you create awareness that unexpected events cost additional time, you motivate your project team by making their hard work visible and you celebrate your success. An example: your MSA indicates the measurement system is corrupt. Communicate your findings and your actions to fix the measurement system. Communicate when the measurement system is fixed, communicate when you gather data.…

Comments 2

  1. Sam Aborne

    I thought the question about cycle time and DMAIC is quite interesting and would like some insight from other readers of this blog, about what they think the right length of time it is to complete a six sigma project, how long should each phase take? How do you tell the business that their measurement system that has worked since the company’s founding is corrupt?

  2. Dragos Marin

    I would say any length is the right one as long as you can show the influence on the bottom line of the company. We should not forget that at the end of the day Six Sigma is about money. As Sven said communication is very important. I would add that even the communication should be measurable and not only in terms of the status of the project (time) but also in terms of savings (money). Only when presented this way to the management a corrupt measurement system can be changed. And from my experience they will get on board.

Leave a Reply