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Balanced reporting on Six Sigma Performance

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  • #30206

    Tim
    Member

    Following a recent post regarding engaging reluctant senior management (thanks for all the advice), I am seeking to understand instances where six sigma has failed to live up to expectations. I want to be able to present a balanced argument for six sigma and therefore need to at least demonstrate an awareness that six sigma is not a simple and undeniable fix for every problem. I have already picked up frustration from this forum where it is not running as smoothly as possible – champion system broken, no engagement of middle management / senior management, no exec support, no green belts. I am looking for examples of failure where the scheme has been abandoned or seriously jeopardised, and the reasons behind this failure.
    I am also seeking examples of manufacturing business success where the principles of six sigma have not been employed.
    Many thanks for your continued support
    Tim

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    #78452

    Summerfield
    Participant

    I do have an example of a  poor implementation or a half heatred effort. The organisation started with training a few individuals to gain understanding and the benifits of six sigma.There was a continued debate to do lean or six sigma at the senior management level.
    inability to decide what is required a half hearted step was taken .
    Results were then found  not be significantly different from what existed.
    Again a mentioned earlier in may forums implementation of six sigma requires good and clear leaership as with any of the TQM programs.
    I do not think that ever any TQM or Six Sima  can ever not be benifitial to an orgqnisation. It has nothing to do with the program but it the leadership of the organisation what matters.

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    #78475

    shree nanguneri
    Member

    Hi,
    What value would you or your organization get from presenting the failures of other organizations?  It is nothing different from taking the failures in your own organization that has led to the fact that you have to present this to your management.
    Why not start with the successess that your organization has accomplished in the past and utlize that as a starting board for anything you want to do sucessfully.  Why should these success factors be any different from any successful six sigma deployment.  What matters is business success and not whether the success came from six sigm, TQM or anything else.  This may get you faster to where you want to go depending on the momentum you have that will foster it.
    Other than that, I do not understand how looking at the failures is going to help.  Te failures are the same as what organizations are committing today to become non profitable.
    Shree

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    #78480

    Tim
    Member

    Thanks Shree
    I accept your point regarding building on our success and the success of others and certainly intend to follow this route. Howvever, if I am to convince my senior management to commit to the financial and time resources required to implement six sigma, I need to be able to defend the criticsm that six sigma if the latest overhyped fad to come from the U.S.(we are based in the U.K.). To successfully defend this criticsm, I need to at least understand and counteract any criticsms of six sigma, and an understanding of implementation failures will help me to provide a balanced argument.
    Tim

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    #78482

    Yeldo
    Member

    Hello Tim,
    The first step in executing Six Sigma is to choose the right project. Six Sigma is based on facts and figures and only projects where relevant facts and figures are available, will you be able to ensure the success of six sigma. One of the main reasons of failure of six sigma is the project on which it is implemented.
    Success of a six sigma project will also depend on the clarity of the problem and how well you define what you want to achieve. Once you define what you would like to achieve, you will get a clearer picture of whether or not six sigma will be useful to you or your business.
    Once you have decided to embark on the Six Sigma project, you need to form a core team and obtain a commitment from them. This is very necessary to ensure that the six sigma project will be completed. Obviously as with all projects, you need to plan the duration of the exercise and keep the team focussed on the task at hand.
    Commitment from senior management is also a key to success of the six sigma project.
    The above are some of the reasons as to whether six sigma projects are successful or not.
    Hope this helps.
    Yeldo.

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    #78485

    Ashman
    Member

    Tim
    I understand where you are coming from with assessing the failures of others – there’s nothing like letting other people bear the cost and problems of failed implementation for you to take the learning!  I’m presently doing some research into the effects of key deployment factors, and their effects on the success (or otherwise) of the initiative.  Two points that might be worth bearing in mind:
    1  You say that you are compiling a case to present to senior management with a view to aquiring resource.  Be sure that any positive outcome from this exercise results from total buy in – don’t set yourself up as a potential fallguy.  Aside from self preservation, there is sound reasoning behind this.  If you engage in deployment based upon incomplete support, the business will detect this.  One of the key factors affecting success appears to be how well management, from exec level downwards, sell the scheme.  Because of the mindset changes required to implement successfully, it is difficult to force commitment, and easy to feign “doing the right thing”.  Hidden agendas and inter company politics will ride roughshod over any good work you put in.  If management do not give 100% high profile, visible committment, you are sunk – they are the salesmen to the rest of the business.  At best, I would predict reduced levels of achievement followed by slow and lingering death.
    2  I question why you are having to present a case to them.  It could be argued that if they are not aware enough of the state of the business to already appreciate the benefits that the initiative has to offer, then you are probably in no fit state to deploy.  Without accurate basic business measures and the awareness of your present position that these bring, you have no transparency.  If your execs can’t handle transparency, or are not willing to face the picture that it provides, warts and all, then Six Sigma is dead in the water (in your pond, at least!).  I suggest that you examine your previous history, as far as initiative deployment goes.  If they have not yet managed to deploy anything that has lasted and achieved results, stand by for deja vu.
    Only my opinions, but hope this has been of some help.
    Steve

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    #78486

    Saherngu
    Participant

    Hi, Yeldo. I fully agreed with you on the ” …clarity of the problem … “. Very often I felt that Projects are idenitied or defines wrongly. This is due to the fact that the ” Process Geek ” doesn’t understand what the Management really want. Or, sometimes, the Management doesn’t really know what they want … … there’s “Variations” on each others’ expectations, and this could easily lead to ” … What ? After all these months, and money invested in this project, this is what 6 Sigma can save ? “. People always like to associate 6 Sigma with Quantum Leap. But, when they don’t see the Quantum Leap, or the Leap is in the Wrong Direction,  they start to feel dis-illusioned and have doubts … and when this happens, the supports would reduce to lip services … I find that the Problem Statement / Definition for the project is most important. If this is not set right, the wrong project objectives would lead us nowhere … So, to me, I rather spend a bit of time in defining the Problem with the Management, Champion, Process Owner & MBB. Make sure everyone got their expectations right. If some of them don’t understand “Process Lingo”, give them a ” Forecast ” or estimations in terms of Dollars & Cents of what the Project is Capable of delivering … At the end of the day, the Customer / Management is always right; they pay our salary … so it’s important that BB give them ” What they really want “, can’t make assumption on ” their specifications “. Cheers !  

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    #78487

    Enio Feijo
    Participant

    Tim,it is difficult to give examples on where and how SS has failed, because we are always correcting the course whenever we forecast that targets will not be met. However, one of the areas that most concerned me, and where I had to focus my attention when implementing SS in a large organization, was the management support and “walk-the-talk”.Whenever CEO, senior management or executives reduce there support to SS, for any reason , or don’t act as they talk, the organization will notice this behaviour and  will start to have SS as a second priority. This could be dangerous for the continuity of the program, or to change the culture of the organizationIf you have to give one example to your senior management, you can say that one failure mode  for SS is lack of  committment from their side.

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    #78490

    James A
    Participant

    James,
    I almost agree with everything you’ve just said, but with one exception – management is no more always right than the beloved customer – but hopefully if you have the right management then your project will still move the business in the right direction (management satisfied if surprised at incorrect assumptions) or satisfy the customer at the expense of a few myths or assumptions being dispersed.
    Either way, there needs to be 100% commitment to discovering the underlying problem, and eliminating it – even if this does require a degree of maturity on all sides! said maturity will determine the continuance of your salary – otherwise your projects and existence become that of a “Yes” man – and that does not help anyone.
    Just my $0.02
    James A

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    #78497

    Cone
    Participant

    Tim,
      I am very new to the entire Six Sigma program (working on my first project), but I came across an article that presents a more balanced view of Six Sigma.  Go to :  
    http://www.contextmag.com/archives/200208/Feature2SickSigma.asp
       This might help in your presentation.
     
    Gary

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    #78503

    Gene Yon
    Participant

    You are pursuing an issue which, ultimately, could be of great value in creating a true understanding of the key ingredients necessary to create a sustainable environment for success. In answer to your request, I offer you a lengthy and, hopefully, valuable response. I will not add to all of the listed causes that you have already seen but indicate how we attempted to ameliorate the effect of those causes. My personal experience in this matter, as a group VP for Technology and Business Development for a UK based firm, has been as the Executive Sponsor for Six Sigma. You may find it of interest to know that I was the last group executive to resist the adoption of the Six Sigma program. I resisted for three reasons–1. a belief that the chief executive was more interested in “riding the coat-tails of GE” and seeing our stock price increase and would not stay the course to achieve a sustainable result; 2. being relatively new to the corporation, I saw all of the indications of employee distrust of any new management program for improvement based on being overwhelmed with all of the buzzword programs of the day and losing trust in the senior management; and finally, 3. a lack of indepth infrastructure(people, accurate data and information tracking systems) to realistically support the group wide initiative that was being proposed. I did see good value in a number of elements of Six Sigma. I also saw the harm that could be done if we pursued a shallow, poorly thought out implementation of Six Sigma. Just prior to the corporate move for Six Sigma, we had already structured a limited number of projects that would (and utlimately did) produce significant, customer and shareholder visible improvements to one of our major products and to our bottom line. These limited projects had already tasked the resource base of capable individuals to its limit. As each of the group executives bowed to pressure to adopt the program, I was approached by several of them and asked to keep resisting the endeavor. I finally agreed to support the Six Sigma program with one condition to be met. The condition was that our key projects would go forward under the Six Sigma program since we had already established the strategic and economic benefits for these projects. I led the Six Sigma initiative for one year as Group Executive Sponsor to insure that we would provide clear support for the initiative. I also unsuccessfully tried to convince the Group President that he should take this position if the company was to re-establish employee confidence. For one year, we were successful in launching 1-2 key projects per group business unit(nominally 30 projects) that could be supported and would also establish an environment to foster employee confidence. Strategic and financial objectives were met in more than 75% of the projects. At the conclusion of that year, support from the corporate executive management was no longer visible, the old guard infrastructure rose up to request that Six Sigma be placed into the total control of the manufacturing leadership (the same people who had previously adopted the buzz word of the day philosophy–kaizen, TQM, etc, etc etc). Eventually, the emergence of Lean replaced Six Sigma as the corporate “darling” that would lead us to nirvana! As you would expect, proactive involvement of the rank and file employees has vanished. I am not arguing against programs such as Six Sigma, Lean, TQM, etc. They each contain very valuable elements that should be used routinely in support of business. Too many times, however, such programs are initiated as a “magic bullet”, painless solution to a problem that requires long term and highly visible executive support. The lack of such support throughout the management infrastructure most likely has played a key role in creating this problem. Using Six Sigma as a “public relations” endeavor to pacify investors and customers does a great injustice to a program that could provide great benefit if properly supported.End of story. Hope you find some value in it.Kind Regards

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    #78506

    shree nanguneri
    Member

    Hi,
    Try this approach and it works well if you have gathered enough data from the web from many organizational successes.
    (a) If the deployment were for free, meaning there is no charge would your organization be ready to manage the change (having the right system and structures etc)?
    – If the answer to this is no, it doesn’t matter what the deployment fee is and it also makes no difference if the deployment is for free.
    – If the answer to this is yes, then the question is where can the management demonstrate that any success (es) in the past and present have been successfully managed and sustained to take advantage from a deployment of this sort?  Then if they understand this, do they understand ROI (return on investment, payoff time, net present value etc)?  I am sure the CFO does.  If they do what has been their typicl ROI over the last 2-3 years?  Has it been anywhere close to 50 %, 100 %?  If yes then great they can handle a minimum of 200 % that the consultant or deploying experts should guarantee in written form (meaning if the deliverables are not met assumin both parties did wht they did the fee is refunded-never failed whenever written and agreed to).
    (c) Take the excuse of money out of the equation and look at the sustainbale change that is going to take place. 
    (d) Now the time resources-Most deployment excperts say Black Belts are 100 % dedicated, Green Belts are 30 % dedicated etc etc and there hasn’t been a single organization that has so far documented this time track and made a science out of this.  Look at this way.  If a green belt is engaged in a six sigma project at the extent of 30 % of his/her time and say it is time to run a Gauge R & R requiring scheduling, equipment installation, operator allocation or any other tool such as process mapping etc it does take time to get it done.  So if the project is of customer value is the green belt going (or his champion) to say, ok I am done with my 30 % and going back to my regualr non six sigma project?  NO
    (e) Drive for task commitment and monitor the time to measure what responsibilities get fallen off the table that results in a negative impact to the bottom line.  Then use that ROI that could be generated from both areas (Six Sigma and Non project) to justify additional resources and in the meantime determine what are the root causes and usually it is poor scheduling or planning that caused it and never lack of resources.  Thus the strategy is to never present this as a time and money based issue to proceed for a deployment.  The deployments can always be started small piloted and demonstrated with the clear intention that there is going to be a larger extension to it.
    (f) In today’s paradigm who has time and resources available but everyone has time and resources if it is an investment that will pay off significantly than traditional with respect to business profitability or your corporate objectives. 
    (g) Finally you can never overcome criticism when the critic is someone at a higher level in the organization.  If the criticism if based on skepticism then information is available through this discussion, but if it is a politically based non value added criticism then you need to recognize it and start building the relationship with them by addressing some project area with that individual.  Recall they have never built a statue in the name of a pessimistic critic but always had one for an optimist.  Don’t let that stop you from your pursuit.   Succeeding in these environments makes the concept meaningful rather than one where there is no resistance at all whether it is UK, Asia, or USA. 
    Hope this has helped you and if you need to discuss further, I can be reached at [email protected]
    Shree

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    #78516

    Reinaldo Ramirez
    Participant

    One possible risk to failure, additional to the management commitment, is, IMO, to forget the bottom line (the workers, they know what the real work is).
    The statistic technique are rarely familiar to most worker. Every book on SS talks about Champion, MBB, BB, GB, etc, etc, but few refer the workers.
    SS is a business strategy not a quality approach but without the workers we don´t get any result (Don’t let Six Sigma be the province of an autonomous group, as may be right now)

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    #78524

    Summerfield
    Participant

    Gene
    Very well said .
     

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    #78557

    Adriano Barbosa
    Participant

    From BRAZIL.
    Well Tim, I have at least one good example of that.
    Once a time I was engaged in a corporative project and as soon as we discover a serious failure in the actual method to evaluate a Key Performance Indicator (Measure phase) the director claimed to choose another business process to be regarded.
    “n” years after the Six Sigma Iniative all the main start up group of Six Sigma was out the company. Can you imagine that ? 25 high qualified specialists ?
    Today, “n+1” years after the start, the company has exactly the same problems but in a higher dimension.
    As the board of directors are the old guys that shadowed the real problems on the past then the Six Sigma did not represent a powerful management tool but a way to “show” the beautyful things they want to. To their personal vanity and wins.
    I do believe that this sample is the worst that we can regard: the false sponsorship.
    Today, as a Master Black Belt, when I am going to evaluate the possibility to deploy a Six Sigma project I take care, a lot, about the real objective behind the Six Sigma approach.
    Is is to show good results or to resolve real problems ?
    How the board of directors will handle the identified hard problems ? What’s the level of transparency that really exist among the stock holders, the board of directors and the executive team ?
    Do they want to end the problems ?
    As I am envolved in international projects, with experience in Africa, Japan, Hong Kong, USA, Brazil and other countries, these concerns are for all countries. This is not a localized cultural problem. This is an human factor.
    As a mentor, you need to be very carefully to deploy a Six Sigma project in an environment that will not distort the main objectives and pinciples that exist behind a Six Sigma approach.
    Take care with the vanity and the pride of the champions. Maybe they are not prepared to lead with their inefficiency. And it’s much better to identifiy this as early as possible. You will avoid some headache in the near future besides some lost of significative amount of money.
    Adriano / +55-33-3273-1500—o0o—

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    #81675

    Travis
    Member

    I agree with you Gene. 
     
    I was just terminated from my position as Champion of Six Sigma because the CEO wanted me to be Public Relations for the company by making it seem that everything is rosy and that there were no problems.  Well, if there were no problems, why are we implementing Six Sigma. 
    I spoke with several employees in order to determine the problems in the company, of course, this lead to many heated and emotional discussions about the problems existing.  However, from these discussions, were developed solutions. 
    I was terminated because I was speaking negatively about the company in front of other employees.  Isn’t that what Six Sigma is all about?  Identifying problems and finding solutions?
    I think sometimes upper management does not want to know what problems exist because it is taken personally as a negative reflection on their own performance.

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    #108440

    Bob J
    Participant

    Gene,
    This story sounds familiar….  Are you at adaptive now?
    Best Regards,
    Bob J

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