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6 Sigma rollout best practices

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  • #27345

    Joe Masci
    Participant

    We’re in the midst of rolling out 6 Sigma in our company, concurrently across 4 different divisions. In concert with the 6 projects underway within our division, we’re also focusing on visibility to the 6 Sigma process, primarily to ensure success of the first 6 projects and to build momentum of the next wave.

    I’m interested in “best practices” that organizations have used to achieve the maximum results in this critical period. Specifically, what actions have been taken to build unstoppable momentum? I’m looking for the real jewels of others’ experiences!

    Thanks

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    #66788

    Eoin
    Participant

    Joe, At the risk of sounding trite – “Nothing succeeds like success” and it is the communication of the success stories and public recognition by those a the topm of the individuals and teams memebers that contributed to the achievement that creates the buzz and momentum. Presentation of the projects and explination, in simple terms, of the tools used to gain those results is crucial.

    Best of luck,
    Eoin

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    #66796

    Anonymous
    Participant

    Joe, We are struggling with the same thing in our launch. Eoin is correct, success stories really build the buzz easily and quickly. Before that, we’ve asked black belts in training to reflect on their learnings and tell us what this will mean to our company three years from now. Hearing the enthusiasm and rosy pictures has piqued the interest of other employees in our weekly black belt profiles that we publish in the company newsletter. In addition, we’ve held public informal open houses where black belts presented their story boards to any employee who walked through the area. The best ones were held in high traffic areas. We also made sure that leadership was very visible and engaged talking with the black belts at these sessions. Basically, commandeer the majority of the standard communications vehicle for your messages. Find a way to weave six sigma into all stories and interviews.

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    #66807

    Whitehurst
    Participant

    Thanks for the replies. We have had great success with public presentations; we hold them monthly, just prior to the Black Belts going back offsite for another round of training. We also have permanent displays outside of their cubes and in the cafeteria.

    Where we’re not succeeding (yet) is in the building of culture outside of these important yet isolated incidents. For example, we’re trying to promote constant referral to DMAIC, but it’s not really catching on. Maybe we’re expecting too much too soon, but there’s not much cultural beat outside of our 6 Black Belt projects.

    Too anxious? Impatient? I don’t know, but I’d hate to lose an opportunity to gain momentum.

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    #66809

    Joe Perito
    Participant

    Task forces, Quality Improvement Teams, Quality Circles, TQM, QFD, Steering Committees, six sigma… the best results I ever saw was where a manager was placed in charge of the (Quality Circles) and this was his full time job to implement it, make it work, train the people, record the project costs, improvements, and savings, set goals, direct, guide, facilitate, and required to report back the progress on a monthly bases. 1800 of 2400 people voluntarily participated, had many company benefits and costs paid for along with “off the job” time to participate, or, paid overtime at their choice… lots of costs. AND STILL, the ROI was $7 return for every dollar spent. The techniques reported in Mikel Harry’s book and Forrest Breyfogel’s book are the same for the root cause of the success at GE, Motorola, and Allied Signal… that is, full management support, management mandate “this WILL be done”, assignment of full time managers, and constant feedback reporting and responsibility REQUIRED. This is what makes the projects take off and keep working. It’s just like parenting. Baby requires constant supervision, attention, directing, and nurturing.

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    #66812

    Praneet
    Participant

    Hi Joe
    This is an issue which most companies do face when they Kick of their Six Sigma initiative…. and unless you do something to generate the enthusiasm around, there is a very good probability that the Six Sigma initiative will die a slow but sure death.
    Couple of things to be done during this phase
    (a) Communicate , Communicate & Communicate:- Nothing works better than this. Communication can in the form of a Six Sigma Dashboard giving details of the projects being undertaken, team members involved,future Roadmap etc. What you could additionally do is put up the photographs of the Project Team Leaders also.
    (b) Celebrate success stories in a big forum: To give you an example, I did face a lot of resistance from the workers in working on Six Sigma projects, the challenge given to me was to make sure that more and more of them worked on projects. SO what I did was I announced a Six Sigma project competition exclusively for them and in a matter of four weeks I had about 15 entries. A review board was formed to evaluate these projects comprising both the Management and the Staff members and the projects were judged. The results were then declared the next day in a company wide meeting, wherein all the workers who had worked on the project were felicitated and given some prizesand the top three projects were asked to make their project presentations. The winner was then announced after all the presentations were made. Special Prizes were given to the top three teams by the MD
    (c) The entire event was videotaped and then we made a 10 minute capsule of the same, which was then showed to all the workers in the Cafteria during the lunch break.
    I had figured that by doing this exercise I would atleast be able to engage 50% of the workforce but what happened after this was quite unprecedented, I had a flood of requests from the workers to mentor their projects
    Moral of the story :- Create a lot of visibility for the first Six Sigma projects that are being rolled out and you can rest assured that the rest of the stuff will fall in place.
    IN case you do need more clarifications please feel free to call me up … My cell # is 919844172686

    Regards and Have a terrific day
    Praneet
    Bangalore, India

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    #66814

    a customer
    Participant

    If you want everyone to use or talk about DMAIC then conduct company wide awareness training using a one-day improvement exercise. People only take up the culture when they know what it is and have experienced it for real themselves.

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    #66856

    Kevin Mader
    Participant

    Joe,

    I am curious to know a few things:

    1) Do you feel that folks require “carrots” to do good work or extra work (extra time off the job for instance)?

    2) Do you feel that folks require “sticks” to do good work or extra work (mandates like “this WILL be done”)?

    3) What is the root cause for all the unwanted time off for the 26,000 folks at Motorola?

    4) Is GE’s success a function of Dr. Harry and Six Sigma or more a function of Welch’s Vision, courage and timing to move the business towards Technology Based business during the greatest Economic Boom in history (based on many cyclical events all happening at once)?

    Regards,

    Kevin

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    #66860

    Tierradentro
    Participant

    I am not Joe, but I will take a shot at your questions.

    1) Do you feel that folks require “carrots” to do good work or extra work (extra time off the job for instance)?

    Of course not. They need to understand the vision, buy into the vision, and feel appreciated when they contribute to the vision.

    2) Do you feel that folks require “sticks” to do good work or extra work (mandates like “this WILL be done”)?

    Some management needs the fear of God put into them.

    3) What is the root cause for all the unwanted time off for the 26,000 folks at Motorola?

    Piss poor marketing decisions around Iridium and the digital cellular market. Motorola continues to have some of the finest process management to be found in the world — necessary but not sufficient.

    4) Is GE’s success a function of Dr. Harry and Six Sigma or more a function of Welch’s Vision, courage and timing to move the business towards Technology Based business during the greatest Economic Boom in history (based on many cyclical events all happening at once)?

    Dr. Harry nad nothing to do with it. It is Welch’s vision, GE’s 10+ years of learning rapid change, brillient focus of businesses — they were in all low tech, low competition markets but leaders in the pig race there which means there was a boatload of money on the table in markets they already dominated. Six Sigma and the real teachers that came behind Dr. Harry facilitated their taking all of that money home.

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    #66872

    Kevin Mader
    Participant

    Hello John,

    I am still hoping that Joe will decide to respond, provided this thread hasn’t grown old. Thank you for responding. Here are my responses to your responses:

    1) I agree with your response. Understanding is intrinsic. Intrinsic understanding is necessary to sustain long-term objectives.
    2) For the most part, I disagree, granted that some folks might require Movement in the short-term. The aim should be on your answer for number one: understanding.
    3) Yes, I suppose that Marketing might have had a hand in the disaster. Although, what Motorola lost was – Profound Knowledge.
    4) I think it might have been a combination of good timing, a good business vision, and courage to make the decision to follow the vision. I don’t agree with many of his tactics, but he has made a “boatload of money”. Keep this in mind though; there are many ways to make money, some of them are immoral and others illegal. I feel that many of Jack’s approaches were less than moral. And who did Welch help out the most? The organization, the stockholder, or the customers?

    Regards,

    Kevin

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    #66892

    Anonmouse
    Participant

    Some good comments. A few additional points:

    If you do recognition/award ceremonies, get the business leaders to present the awards and talk about the benefits, not the quality guys.

    If you do communication, do it through the business leaders comms channels, not the quality teams.

    Project selection is critical in the early stages. Don’t waste your time on small, soft projects. Be tough and select big impact hard dollar projects. Then get the business guys to talk about them.

    Don’t underestimate the soft challenges. Six Sigma is a change initiative. In your business, people will be either complacent, confused, contrary or excited. Your comms and change management needs to address all four types of people. Complacents need a rocket, confused need clarity, contrary need to be sold the benefits, excited need to be directed. A single line of attack will only be partly effective.

    Finally, in my experience projects really succeed if they are well sponsored. Get the top down support early on and aim to tie in improvement to incentives.

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    #66928

    jmbmasci
    Participant

    Kevin,

    Sorry for the late reply.
    1. Not necessarily. You can’t lump all people into a broad category. Some of the best people find the challenge in the job itself; I suspect they are driven by “inner carrots” such as setting high internal standards of performance and growth. However, there’s certainly a wider segment that can be attracted by the incentive of a tangible carrot.

    2. Not in most progressive organizations. The stick approach will work with limited scope and limited duration. However, the first thing you sacrifice is commitment. My experience has been that you can achieve (begruding) compliance with a stick, but seldom true commitment. So, it’s a question of what you’re trying to build as well as what you’re trying to accomplish.

    3. I suspect it’s a business case with many answers. The sobering one is that “6 Sigma quality” does not necessarily translate into job security. However nasty that sounds, it’s probably good to maintain that perspective.

    4. My vote is for Mr. Welch. While 6 Sigma is certainly a powerful tool, the commitment to wield that tool and build a culture around it cannot be understated. Unfortunately, the true test of Mr. Welch’s leadership will be what remains at GE after he departs. Hopefully the culture will survive when his charisma departs.

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    #66930

    Kevin Mader
    Participant

    Thank you for your response. Late is better than never in my book!

    Folks following this thread may be interested in reading Alfie Kohn’s book, Punished By Rewards: the trouble with incentives, gold stars, ‘A’s, praise and other bribes. Kohn argues against the traditional pop behaviorism popularized by the late B.F. Skinner. It is a book focusing on the intrinsic nature of people and how this is subverted by the ‘carrot and stick’ approach we have popularized in our homes, schools, and businesses. It is very interesting reading, IMHO.

    Using Carrot and Sticks has fast, but short-lived impact. Both are forms of external force, and some would go so far to call it External Motivation. Fredrick Herzberg and Kohn argue that since Carrots and Sticks cause Movement, they cannot be associated with Motivation, an intrinsic quality. I agree with their conclusion: Movement is not Motivation. If we desire long-term impact, we must consider which method brings that result. Movement must be replaced often and with more movement (i.e. bonuses are replaced by bigger bonuses). All the while, we drift further from what we are after.

    What troubles me the most with Six Sigma is perhaps mostly attributable to Dr. Harry and Jack Welch. Both foster the belief that folks need Carrots and Sticks. This is simply not true. The game becomes avoid the Stick and seek the Carrot. Folks will take many steps to get one and avoid the other, many of which are less than credible or optimal. This game and these tactics create poor work conditions. Everyone is out for themselves, data manipulation, and internal competition. We don’t need Six Sigma to prove that this exists; we can look around any organization practicing the Western Style of Management to see its ugly presence.

    I recognize that Welch had a good business vision and good timing and has made GE very strong. However, I am not sure that I agree with you in regards his leadership. I am of the opinion that he isn’t the kind of person I would like to work for and what I would think Crosby would label, a “Destructor”. It’s hard to imagine that a person might have created the success of an organization with this predominant leadership type. It begs to ask this question: is Jack Welch as good as Wall Street makes him out to be?

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