A Quality Bubble?

Gianna Clark notes that several hundred companies began their Six Sigma journeys about seven years ago.

Is Six Sigma the quality equivalent of a stock market bubble? Are we cheerleaders of an irrational exuberance where performance economics do not match the hype we create? Is Six Sigma on the verge of becoming the next TQM – run over by advances in technology and easier approaches to improving performance?

Comments 5

  1. Santosh

    Six Sigma is not a bubble waiting to burst. The advance in technology and science to improve performance will be a result of Six Sigma initiative. I don’t mean to say that one has to start a Six Sigma project to initiate advancement. If you or your company thinks that your performance can be improved through a certain methodology, you just need to go ahead and adopt it and not wait to initiate a 6 sigma project to deploy it. However Six Sigma is undoubtedly a culture that an organization/individual needs to adopt to continuously improve quality of service or product and retain customers. Of course it’s all about what the customer wants.

  2. James Considine

    I’d say quite the contrary. There are thousands of companies out there who are basically kept in business by the mediocrity of their competitors. A little lean and six sigma thinking can help them out quite a lot – hopefully they recognize the value of the skills and experience, even if they don’t launch a huge deployment.

    From where I sit, the bubble that might be about to pop is the seven-figure deployment deals for consulting firms, with the attendant large content licensing fees. Hopefully the other bubble to go with it are the sundry firms offering "certification" to anyone with several thousand dollars and a dream of being a Black Belt.

    I see the need for LSS to get a lot smarter about itself – lean out training and project execution, get stronger at measuring actual ROI for the projects, and better at driving home the value to every level of the business. That we can always improve at.

  3. Charles McKinney

    I agree with your points, James, and thanks for highlighting the inadequacy of consultant-led deployments. Hopefully, my irony is not lost on people.

  4. dhruvdar

    While completely agreeing with James, I am adding a few reasons for failure to sustain the movement in the long run. 1) Many times it is the leadership which, after the initial period, diverts their attention to other "more important" things and the message is very clear to all below. 2) Also, initially the persons selected for BB training are charged about their new role. However, after 2 or 3 projects, the excitement wears out. At times they are transferred to other roles, and the second wave of BBs are not ready yet to take over. 3) In some companies, Six Sigma performance measures are not seriously linked to the personal business plans. Due to these reasons the movement gradually loses steam and fizzles out.
    Thus it is very important for management to have a clear long term strategy in place when they go for such initiatives. Six Sigma should become a "way of life" to succeed – if it remains a special initiative it will fade away, as another "special initiative" will invariably replace it sometime.

  5. proworkflow

    How much flexibility does a replicating team have to customize you solution to their situation? If you say none or virtually none, then how is this different from issuing an instruction to implement your solution? If you say they have complete or a lot of flexibility, then how does the replicating team decide what changes to make without mapping their process, collecting data, etc. Doesn’t the replcating team basically have to go through the same process that the original team went through.

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