On iSixSigma’s Discussion Forum, a poster working on a doctoral thesis asked about how various differences in national culture can affect Six Sigma implementation. Respondents provided several links to studies on the role of cultural differences among deployments in the United States and Europe. One reader added that the corporate culture is far more important than national culture to understand before implementation.

Jan. 19, 2010

Sascha Heylmann: We all know how much corporate culture matters in successful Six Sigma implementation. However, as far as I know, not much has been said about how much social (national) culture matters when approaching a Six Sigma implementation. In this thread I aim to collect your opinion on, and general information about, specific implementation challenges or approaches in different countries. Do they matter at all? What have you come across? Any literature you do recommend?

Jan. 21, 2010

EvieM: Check out a publication, “Staying Lean: Thriving, Not Just Surviving,” on the Lean Enterprise Research Center site. The section on behavior and engagement talks a little about national culture. It’s about a Lean implementation and is a really interesting read.

Jason Kingston: A useful starter may be Geert Hofstede‘s work. His books covers culture and its consequences, as well as indices such as the Power Distance Index. ?

For me, the requirement of emotional intelligence and awareness of cultures, or even organizational micro cultures, is key in fully understanding gemba and implementing change in a way the audience will buy into.?

Jan. 27, 2010

Rene: Yes, Geert Hofstede’s book helps a lot. I did the comparison between USA and Sweden. It helped me to understand the differences, when I prepared my study on this topic. I presented a paper on the topic: “Six Sigma: Method for Process Improvement – How to Make the Cultural Change in Your Organisation” (Institute for International Research – Amsterdam, Feb. 5, 2002)?

Mike Carnell: We have done deployments in 19 countries outside the U.S. and on every continent except Antarctica. I haven’t ever seen a big influence come from a country culture, and where it may have been an issue the company culture was already dealing with it. The company culture seems to be the predominant factor in significant differences.

At no point have we had the culture, regardless which one, affect the teaching of the DMAIC process. It is the infrastructure around the deployment that changes/adapts to the culture.?

Just out of curiosity, as long as you are aware of the influence of culture on how you layout a deployment, why would it make a difference if it were the company culture or the country culture? Just my opinion.

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