It is a time of change. The world is developing faster with each passing day. Continuous process improvement technologies, which could make these changes more significant and effective, trail far behind this trend. Who suffers? Companies that lose competition, people who cannot find a new place in the changed labor market and countries that are wasting resources that could go to create a new economy. A new efficient business process improvement methodology is a world priority.
Over the last three years, the Association Six Sigma (in Russia) has been working to create a new version of Six Sigma that is capable of adequately meeting new challenges. But first, a review of Six Sigma’s history.
Evolution of Six Sigma
Initially, Six Sigma originated at Motorola in 1986; I call this Six Sigma 1.0. Then, over the course of 15 years, the methodology quickly spread to the largest corporations, which continued to work on it, adding tools and approaches from the experience of the Toyota Production System and theory of constraints (TOC). With the proliferation of computers and dramatic increase in productivity, many Six Sigma tasks can be solved in more efficient ways today than in years past. There was a need to update Six Sigma.
Several disparate attempts were made to create a new version of Six Sigma. These were Lean Six Sigma, Green Belts v.2.0, Six Sigma 2.0. But in these versions, nothing fundamentally changed. Therefore, we propose SixSigma3.0 as the beginning of a new stage in the development of the methodology, in which there will be a single standard, fully upgraded toolset and an integrated mechanism for regular updates. To distinguish this new version of Six Sigma from all other variations, the name should be written as a single word without spaces.
What SixSigma3.0 Should Be
SixSigma3.0 should become a disciplined professional business process optimization methodology aimed at producing measurable effect. The name is important – written as one word to prevent clients from guessing what methodology they are using. All developments in the methodology should be registered in a centralized standard and distributed universally as upgrades by an authorized international organization – in the manner that computer software is upgraded. We hope that one of internationally recognized Six Sigma certifying bodies (ASQ, IASSC, ISSSP) will be interested in taking on this role.
The SixSigma3.0 methodology should include only the most effective concepts, technologies and tools that have a proven track record of efficient application, chosen from continuous improvement systems that exist in this field: Six Sigma, Lean, Kaizen and TOC. Handpicked tools should be organically incorporated into the SixSigma3.0 methodology. Most of the tools require refinement to reduce the learning curve and efficiency of practical use.
The main objectives of the new methodology are:
- Building logic algorithms that help the practitioner achieve missions as well as develop mechanisms for continuous data flow and seamless exchange of results between tools – eliminating the need to re-enter data. This will help to automate the process improvement professional’s job in the future.
- Replacement of continuous improvement terminology with the terminology of computer games.
- Projects will be replaced with Missions or combat tasks. The practitioner’s obligation is to achieve the Mission under any conditions. DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) will be replaced by 10 Mission Operational Tasks (MOTs), some of which will be performed in parallel and some in sequence. This approach lifts many of the problems with implementation of traditional Lean Six Sigma such as blurred responsibilities, unjustified hopes for management assistance and doubts about what to do in each phase of DMAIC.
Toolset for SixSigma3.0
Divide existing tools of continuous improvement in two groups: Basic Kit and Advanced Toolset. The Basic Kit should include the most effective tools that the Effector must master professionally with a guarantee that this is his or her confirmed minimal competence level. When hiring, the employer should be guaranteed this competency level.
The development of the Basic Kit should be entrusted to an international organization. The Advanced Set will include effective tools specially modified for practical use after thorough analysis.
Effector – New Name for Old Profession
We propose to name the new occupation Effector – a professional in business process improvement methodologies capable of achieving optimization effect. Without a short recognizable name, the occupation lacks drive and energy.
No more Yellow, White, Red, Green or Black Belts; no sensei, operational excellence specialists, Lean leaders or Champions – no more confusion.
- Effector: a specialist in systems for improving business processes and operational efficiency.
- Effector-in-Chief: manager responsible for operational excellence in the organization.
The SixSigma3.0 Effector should play a significantly more important role than Green and Black Belts in traditional Six Sigma.
The weakness of the traditional approach is a shift in responsibility for the success of projects toward leadership support, corporate culture and other external circumstances. In fact, the entire responsibility for the success of the projects should lie with the SixSigma3.0 Effectors. An Effector should be able to perform the task in any conditions. Only in this way can the SixSigma3.0 methodology can take root in an organization and benefit it.
The selection and training of Effectors should be based on the following principles:
- Strict prior assessment
- Special motivation
- Total mastery of the methodology and Basic Kit
- Continuous study and use of tools from the Advanced Toolset
- View each project as a combat mission
- High discipline
Training and Certifying Effectors
The duration of basic training should be limited to three to four days (or 20 training hours), which is the requirement of most customers. Training should be more practical and applicable to real world situations. A book of knowledge should be constantly updated with practical experience.
It is necessary to simplify the certification procedure. After successful examination in an authorized organization, the trainee will receive a temporary certification for a period of one year. Certification must be confirmed after the successful implementation of an operational task. Certification will be confirmed by a committee of an organization consisting of three or more certified Effectors, who will assess the results of the operational task.
Lean Six Sigma Green and Black Belts could be certified as Effectors after passing SixSigma3.0 basic training.
The Mission of SixSigma3.0
Unlike traditional Six Sigma, the optimization tasks in SixSigma3.0 are set by management as Missions.
The Mission is the most important element of the SixSigma3.0 methodology. A Mission is a task with any type of goal: problem solution, streamlining of business process, or improvement of high-level corporate key performance indicators (KPIs) or certain process KPIs.
Unlike a project manager, the Mission leader can use various approaches to achieve the task: project management planning, fast just-do-it projects, a Kaizen blitz or Agile tools (Scrum and sprint).
Solving business problems as missions could add additional energy to operational efficiency initiatives and increase the responsibility of Mission leaders for their accomplishment. The mental attitude of the leader and the team should be focused on unconditional success.
Mission goals and inputs are concisely and comprehensively described in a Mission Brief.
No More DMAIC
At the heart of Lean Six Sigma’s methodology is a five-step solution to business problems – DMAIC. The experience of applying DMAIC demonstrates that the methodology itself needs improvement. Its steps are not equivalent, and its sequence of actions and the use of tools leads to difficulties in the project.
We suggest that the improvement mission in SixSigma3.0 be guided by Mission Operational Tasks (MOTs), which are executed sequentially, but with the possibility of returns and parallel implementation. Each operational task is a key factor in the successful implementation of the mission.
10 Mission Operational Tasks (MOTs)
- Scanning: Scan the business landscape to identify areas of inefficiency and missed opportunities.
- Capture the goal: Determine the reason for an optimization Mission and identify target business process, main metrics (KPIs) and target values.
- Execution: Ensure support of the mission by the company’s leadership, secure necessary resources, organize efficient Mission implementation team and choose the appropriate project execution approach (project, just do it, Agile, Scrum, sprint, etc.)
- Process: Research the Mission’s target process, process baseline parameters, levels of KPIs, regulatory requirements and customer needs.
- Data: Analyze the Mission’s needs for data and install a data collection system.
- Analysis: Search for problems in the process that impede the implementation of the Mission’s goals, identify cause-and-effect relationships, factors of influence and root causes.
- Development: Develop solution packages for troubleshooting problems from the registry of root problems using modern business improvement and design technologies.
- Implementation: Test the developed solutions for mistakes and inefficiencies before full-scale implementation/deployment.
- Control: Develop a set of measures for monitoring and fixing implemented solutions.
- Report: Prepare and present Mission Report to top management touching upon economic effect, learned lessons and opportunities to apply solutions to other business areas.
Nine Reasons for Switching to SixSigma3.0
- Revive the brand in new conditions. Currently we see a decline in the interest in continuous improvement methodologies.
- Create a new occupation in the field of management and make it catch on (the occupation lacks short and recognizable names like lawyer, manager, auditor, etc.) We propose a new name – Effector.
- Improve efficiency compared to other continuous improvement methodologies that are made up of too much useless knowledge and a lack of professionalism.
- Ensure continuous development of the methodology and its relevance in a changing world.
- Maintain a single basic level of training specialists in operational improvement opposed to the existing system in which every organization has its own program and approaches to Belt training.
- Revive interest in improving business processes. There is an undeserved lack of interest in improving processes for psychological reasons among millennials and Generation Z.
- Initiate emergence of SixSigma3.0 professionals’ community. Today, operational excellence professionals are separated by their adherence to different methodologies.
- Develop and constantly upgrade a SixSigma3.0 standard based on application practices and research developments. The existing Six Sigma standards never change.
- Develop a professional software that provides automation of the methodology and direct exchanges of data and calculation results between instruments. Currently, Six Sigma education is based on manual calculations and standalone tools – we must create demand for advanced Six Sigma software.