All too often we hear the accolades of Six Sigma being utilized in a large (and often publicly traded) companies. In recent years the DMAIC methodology has been spread into smaller healthcare organizations, government, and even some school districts. However it seems there is a vast under-representation of Six Sigma in small companies and private firms, when compared to larger counterparts. When is the last time you heard of a private equity firm or a small business celebrating Six Sigma success?
When you’re a billion dollar company there is almost a sexiness to the sound of telling shareholders how many tens of millions of dollars Six Sigma projects have added to the bottom line. Having formal in house trainers and support in the form of Master Black Belts, statistical software packages, and completely committed Black Belts also doesn’t hurt.
My advice is that a smaller company should not believe a Six Sigma infrastructure is an unattainable goal. Rather, the structure and elements of deployment may need to be altered a bit from traditional big business models.
Examples of alteration can include assigning multiple roles to a position (ex., Quality Manager can be also considered Master Black Belt) and utilizing existing resources, such as the analysis and equation solver tool packs in Microsoft Excel (as opposed to buying additional software). Metrics to measure success can be tailored as well. By measuring Six Sigma value in terms of a percentage of revenue, profitability, new business opportunities, etc. the success will be more understandable and meaningful than just stating how much money was saved.
So does size matter when it comes to having a successful Six Sigma culture? In my opinion the answer is no; you just have to be a bit more creative.