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The Cultural Pyramid

Having worked on many process improvement projects across multiple SBU’s in my organization in the Sri-Lankan apparel industry, a primary factor that determines the success or failure of any project is the level of cultural acceptance and support a project or practitioner receives from various levels of an organization.

Overtime the Sri-Lankan apparel industry has evolved from a highly operationally focused model to a modern manufacturing one today. The recognition and importance of process methodologies as an effective tool in streamlining both manufacturing and transactional processes is widely being acknowledged across the industry with more and more companies now initiating and implementing some sort of process improvement driven methodology.

Given the operational bias that still persists in the industry, in order to successfully implement process methodologies such as Six Sigma, practitioners need to be able to successfully sell projects to a range of stakeholders across the management hierarchy. I find it easy to categorize the process owners into 5 strata as depicted in the “Cultural-Pyramid” as indicated in figure (1).

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The roles of various stakeholders across the management hierarchy in relation to their cultural significance are also described.

Figure (1): The Cultural Pyramid

By evaluating the expectation and influence of each stakeholder in the pyramid, one can identify the expectations of each of the respective stakeholders. By developing a communication strategy for each (relevant) level in the cultural pyramid at the onset of a project the net result was an appreciation of the potential of process methodologies at a “Grassroots” level. For lower levels of an organization, basic exposure and awareness about the core concepts of a methodology at the initial stages has been an effective way to lay the foundation on which to extend the use of more advanced process methodologies such as Six Sigma.

The cultural pyramid also serves as an effective communication channel, whereby if necessary issues could be escalated to the highest level, quickly and effectively, thus facilitating the implementation of process methodologies in an organization.

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