What Do YOU Say to the “Non-believers”?

Much is said about how Six Sigma will radically change your company, how it will save millions of pounds / dollars, and how it will change your company’s culture. Little is said about on of the major problems most Six Sigma deployments even the mature ones face; the “non believers.”

They are a splinter group with pockets in every area of your company, from the executive down to lower management.

Their tactics for undermining Six Sigma is often one of passive resistance; not turning up for workshops, not contributing in meetings and / or reneging on actions in your Implementation Plan.

They make no open statements of dissent, just the odd snide comment about Karate (referring to the belts) or how they’ve seen similar process improvement concepts come and go; or even crazier still, how they have no time to improve their processes as they are all soooo busy.

You may not even know they are undermining you; hell, they may not even know they are undermining you.

They send their ‘least capable’ staff (the staff that they can afford to loose for a few days) on the yellow belt / green belt training courses. They give you ‘boil the ocean’ projects or withhold data that would make them look bad.

The fact is, over the short to medium term they are going to erode your Six Sigma deployment, but long term they could destroy your deployment or even destroy the whole concept globally, which is a shame because IT WORKS.

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I would be interested in what you say or have said to these people (the ‘non-believers’) and what you do in your company to ‘sell’ the Six Sigma methodology.

Comments 6

  1. Garima Trivedi

    I would say that if the top management is ready for the six sigma to work and have faith in it, then go ahead and suggest them to set a small percent of everyone’s salary for the six sigma. Let everyone right from top to bottom work towards the success of Six Sigma and thus ultimately bag the whole salary at the end of the month. What say you?

  2. Rajesh

    That is why, Six Sigma is a top driven approach, if CEO of the company directly involves and monitors the progress [at least during deployment] and asks the project leader about the progress and gives a stiff target, the project leader strives the team and everybody will be involved in six sigma.

    Also for these non-believers, KPI [key performance indicators] should set and monitored. To achieve the KPI’s consistently employees will be forced to go through this scientific methodology.

  3. Gina Eckles

    Peter Senge, a renowned expert in the development of organization adaptive capabilities, once said, “The unhealthiness in our world today is in direct proportion to our inability to see it as a whole.” Staff bottlenecks, budget and manpower cuts, and the unwillingness to disperse information have stifled collaborative environments. As organizations undertake endeavors to transform they must invoke, transform, and emplace fundamental, over-arching business processes. They must work to integrate best business practices and strategies into existing processes and establish cross-functional methodologies. They cannot continue to advocate better business strategies, drop wads of cash into frameworks and then fail to achieve common core processes because they lacked the key ingredient of successful business process implementation, the commitment.

  4. richb

    when push becomes a shove…….., the non believers are definitely very difficult to handle, but what about the genre that tells you they are inspired and are participative at the face value but actually are undermining the initiative by doing things at the last minute and not going through the rigour of six sigma. They are the ones who will turn up for all your meetings and leave mid way for "operational exigencies" – brownie points with the General Manager , who in turn will feel guilty for reprimanding him as he is the martyr who saved the organization. Needless to say his subordinates will inculcate the same ideology and and it will not take long for six sigma to become a sham in such an organization. Hence my concern for linking six sigma with appraisals …….

  5. Ray Lacey

    Apply your 6s strategies to this problem just as with any other. Address the root causes of their resistance. Talk with them find the “why’s”. See if this is their intention or otherwise. Discuss their alternative visions see how 6s can help achieving them – if you can’t address them then re-evaluate your own position

    Know your company. Lead by example. Act with the courage of your convictions. Demonstrate and communicate widely your successes. Have patience.

    At times you may have to be unreasonable (or appear that way) – for the reasonable man has never changed anything of note.

  6. Aurelian Nechifor

    In my Black Belt experience, I learned that 20% of the organisation is made up of non-believers. But this 20% causes you 80% of trouble. They are the ones having a laugh about your belt, they are the ones saying that the savings claimed are not real (although they don’t have the data to support their statement), etc.

    So what do I do? Just two things:

    1. I pay a lot of attention at potential issues that “the trouble maker” is involved in. I take him/her at a one-to-one discussion and investigate potential area that I could be of assistance. Resources to help are always welcome. Prove them that you can deliver. Deliver a quality and timely work. And I bet you that they will be converted. Or at least you made the first step towards conversion: the non-believer will start thinking of you “well, this guy helped me a lot – I want him to help us with more things”; and here you go you have the opportunity, hence no more frustration.

    2. If 1 doesn’t work, then put the non-believer aside and make use of people around him/her, helping them achieve what the non-believer wants to achieve. Non-believer will have no option but to join the crowd. The drawback of this option is that it takes much longer than 1.

    That’s how I do it.

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