Six Sigma in Erie County is seeing setbacks as skeptic county legislators put a cap on the Six Sigma budget. The initial one million dollars planned has been slashed to $120,000.

“I’m one of the skeptics, I believe. They didn’t name me Doubting Thomas for nothing,” Legislator Thomas J. Mazur, D-Cheektowaga, said Thursday. “I am glad the control board slowed down this steamroller.”

“I’m not sure we are going to be saving these millions and millions of dollars,” Legislator Timothy M. Wroblewski”

They want to pilot the initiative first, to see what happens…If only the legislators had done their research before making such a hasty decision. iSixSigma Magazine research from Nov/Dec 2005 outlines the ins and outs of starting up a Six Sigma initiative.

Finding One: You get what you pay for.

Fifty percent of respondents (536) from companies that invested less than 500K on Six Sigma the first two years didn’t even see their investment back. Nearly 75 percent of respondents (260) from companies that invested 500K to 1 million saw an ROI of 2x or more. As the spending increased, so did the ROI. (Finding 1, Table 1.2, pg. 34)

Finding Three: Companies that begin with an enterprise-wide initiative have a higher ROI than those that start with a pilot program.

Fifty three percent of respondents from companies who did not make their initial investment back the first two years worked from companies who started with a pilot initiative. Sixty percent of respondents from companies who saw an ROI of 8x or more worked for companies who started Six Sigma enterprise-wide. (Finding 3 Table 1.2, pg. 38)

I’m afraid that unless Hammond can really focus his efforts under the budget constraint, the legislators have sowed their own seeds of mediocrity. Hammond and the Six Sigma team should still be able to save money despite the cuts. After all, this is a government organization, where like it or not, admit it or not, there are apples, oranges and mangoes just laying around for the plucking.

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