When determining how to apply Six Sigma methodology to your business, you do not need to reinvent the wheel. A lot of research, testing, and work has already been put in to sort out some common best practices that are proven to work for most organizations.

In any industry, there are others that have come before you. In that time, methods have been tested and retested so that there are ways of doing things that have been found to be the most effective.

Overview: What is meant by best practice?

A best practice refers to guidelines or a standard that has been determined to be the best for achieving a desirable outcome.

Benefits and drawbacks of best practices

There are some benefits and drawbacks to defined best practices that are worth noting:

Benefit 1: Less guesswork
With best practices already sorted out for your company, there is less guesswork on your part when determining the right course of action.

Benefit 2: Establishes a baseline
Utilization of best practices establishes a baseline for competency, skill, and quality.

Benefit 3: Strategy clarification
By establishing best practices, you are able to offer clarification of the company strategy and goals.

Benefit 4: Benchmarking
With defined best practices to follow, benchmarks can be set for improvement upon.

Benefit 5: Instilling a work culture
By aiming for best practices, an organization can establish a defined work culture that is geared towards long-term continuous improvement and the pursuit of ever-increasing quality.

Drawback 1: May limit innovation
By already defining what the best practices for an organization are, there is the possibility that workers may feel that there is no room to innovate.

Drawback 2: Not always applicable
Established best practices will not always work in every situation that comes up and are only guidelines.

Drawback 3: Only as good as the leadership
Best practices are only as good as the leadership that implements them.

Why are best practices important to understand?

Best practices are important to understand for the following reasons:

Reference – Understanding the best practices for your organization is important, because when things get hectic, it is good to have some set guidelines in place as a reference point.

Covering the basics – A good understanding of best practices makes sure that the basics are covered before moving on to more complicated processes.

A return point – If an organization moves too far away from its core principles, understanding what the defined best practices are is helpful as a direction to return to.

An industry example of best practices

There is a new hire in the company’s human resources department. It is a large organization and it is the new hire’s first week. They are unsure about how to approach all the tasks that are expected of them. Thankfully, along with the details of their new position, the new hire has been supplied with the department’s list of best practices, so that the employee can have an understanding of the recommended methods for accomplishing all of the job requirements.

9 best practices when thinking about best practices

While we are looking at best practices, here are some best practices when it comes to Six Sigma:

1. Stretch goals

Six Sigma is for those who want massive improvement, so it is best to set goals well beyond current performance when utilizing Six Sigma methodology.

2. Aim for measurable results

When using Six Sigma tools, tie your desired results to clearly measurable returns.

3. Input/Output

Adjust/control your inputs in a manner that gets you to reach the outcomes you desire consistently.

4. Thinking before acting

Utilizing Six Sigma’s DMAIC tool, you solve problems by defining, measuring, analyzing, and planning. This prevents us from jumping headfirst into dealing with a problem with what may not be an ideal solution in place.

5. Trust data

Putting trust in data leads to sound decisions that are not emotionally based or biased.

6. Variation minimization

Even when things like sales and operating costs are at acceptable levels, too much variation can do a lot of harm to a company and should be minimized as much as possible.

7. Make sure projects align with key goals

Be sure to select projects based on how well they align with the key goals of your business.

8. Celebrate your successes

Even if your successes begin small, celebrate them. Celebrating success builds excitement, trust, and belief in the power of your organization.

9. Involve ownership

Have active communication throughout every stage of the DMAIC process with ownership, as it keeps them engaged and invested in its success.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about best practices

Why is the sharing of best practices important?

It not only boosts the efficiency of your workers but can also improve your own.

How can a company share its best practices?

These can be shared internally within the company or with knowledge-sharing tools, social media accounts, kanban tools, and the corporate intranet.

What is the difference between a policy and a best practice?

A policy is mandatory, while a best practice is often a guideline.

Best practices in your organization

Whether your business is new or has been around for years, it is beneficial to have a set of best practices in place. These guidelines help your staff and customers understand the principles of your organization and what can be expected in your business dealings. It also saves time when it seems like there can be myriad ways to approach solutions to problems. If you are starting a company from scratch, you can look towards companies that you want to emulate for their defined best practices as inspiration.

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