Magic Mirror On The Wall . . .

Magic Mirror on the Wall – Why did my deployment stall?

When companies deploy Six Sigma, most have a vision of what that will mean to the organization. It might be improved customer satisfaction, or shorter cycle time or better quality products, cost reduction, revenue growth or maybe achieving an overall culture of excellence. Whatever the vision, there is nothing more disappointing than finding out that after years of doing everything on the “deployment to-do list,” the benefits did not materialize.

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Eventually the finger pointing will start. Were the projects not the right ones? Were the black belts not working fast enough? What about the metrics? Why have other companies been successful? Leaders will want to know the answer to these and numerous other questions all leading to them to the same ultimate question which is, “What is the secret to success?”

The answer is not a secret at all but only requires that the leader take a long hard look in the mirror. Yes, the mirror will show them who is ultimately responsible. It is them. Whether they like it not, the success of any Six Sigma deployment is a direct reflection of the leader’s passion and engagement. Why have they not seen this before now? Maybe they are vampires? I think I’ll save that thought for a Halloween blog.

Comments 2

  1. Ian Furst

    In medical diagnosis we measure accuracy and it is never 100%. Take your appendix for instance. If you assume that it can’t be diagnosed properly for the need to be cut out with 100% accuracy which way would you like the surgeon to err? If accuracy is 99% they can either leave 1% of them in until they rupture or take 1% out that are normal. The real error rate is closer to 10% and obviously they are overdiagnosed (high false positive rate) to prevent missing any sick ones (low false negative rate).

    It should be the same way in business. My assumption is that if a consultant hits the mark with 100% of their suggestions then they are missing 10% of the opportunities. If they miss on 10% of the projects I know they’re leaving nothing un-done. If they miss on 50% of their projects they’re idiots and need to be fired. Having a low false positive rate (doing a project when none is required) is not a sign of failure but an understanding of the uncertainties in business.

  2. Bob Yokl

    Unfortunately when major initiatives are deployed in large and medium sized organization’s in many ways they are treated as the "Managemeng Flavor of the Month/Year." In reality they gain traction while the customer is paying for them and the employees for the most part (never all) fully enage in the process such as Lean or Six Sigma. But you know that staff cannot wait until these initiatives go away or die down and they can get back to their "Work Avoidance" every day primary job functions.

    If management is not fully participating and attending the important meetings and taking action on the people who do not show up or work on their Lean or Six Sigma Projects then the overall money could be wasted as well. I have seen so many times were we give a project manager 90 days (3-whole months) to complete a project and the team leader and administrative champion has no problem with the person when they take 6-months to complete the project. Lip service does not get things done!

    I often do wonder if the consultants are up to the challenge of making the changes happen with their Lean and Six Sigma methodologies and approaches. I have seen some pretty crazy things going on and I would have to agree with Ian here and have seen Lean and Six Sigma consultant steering clients into major 6 to 8 month projects on things like inventory in the supply chain—-when the ROI is just not there.

    So as Ian said, project selection is very important and we need to do our 80/20 analysis on the projects that we work on too, not just some thorn in someone’s side that want’s to get it off their list when the ROI is non-existent.

    In many ways these initiatives do have some good byproducts:

    1. They Can Show a Management Team Who are their real workers and Leaders, that is if they are paying attention.

    2. Are you commited as an Organization

    3. Does the consultant know what they are doing?

    4. Are the numbers real and sustainable – no BS fluff savings – real hard dollars that are measured.

    Bob Yokl

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