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Failed Six Sigma Deployments

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  • #30039

    Finance Jock
    Participant

    Where can I find about companies whose Six Sigma deployment bombed-out?
    I understand that Polaroid’s deployment failed what other companies had difficulty?

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    #77849

    Patrick
    Participant

    There was an article by Michael Hammer in the MIT Sloan Management review entitled “the Future of Six Sigma” (Winter 2002).  It’s an interesting read.
    Check out Motorola, Xerox, IBM…………

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    #77854

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Let’s see what would Michael Hammers motivation be to write about a Six Sigma failure?
    If you would like to take this offline we can talk about what Hammer uses as his reference point. ID the company read and compare some annual reports or whatever information around that company and the others that were deploying at that time and the failure may become self explanatory.
    The intersting part is if you view the company Hammer uses to exemplify where it went wrong – who drove the deployment? Internal, consultant, etc.
    They fail for a lot of reasons.
    Good luck.

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    #77868

    Patrick
    Participant

    Thanks for the input, Mike.  I must say that I haven’t really looked for articles on failed deployments but this one happened to cross my desk a while back. Despite being a tad limited in his view of 6s, Mr Hammer does have some valid Do’s and Don’ts for implementation.
    I would be delighted to discuss this article or any other topic with you.
    Cheers,
    P

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    #77869

    Finance Jock
    Participant

    My company is considering deploying six sigma.  As a result, I have frequently posted questions on this site asking about pros, cons, and pit falls of six sigma.  I have to admit that I’m very disappointed.  It seems as if the people at this site are more concerned about ss tools than creating a greater interest.
    Is there another site where people more openly discuss the short comings or pit falls of six sigma?

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    #77871

    Patrick
    Participant

    There are quite a few articles in the archives of this site on deployment pointers (I just browsed the titles quickly to check).
    Check out the Six sigma Forum magazine from the ASQ website (asq.org).
    Be careful about consultant sites, they are most definitely biased to providing a service (training, deployment, etc).
    As far as open discussion forums. The only one I know of is for the members of ASQ.
    Cheers,
    P

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    #77872

    melvin
    Participant

    Take a look at,  Brown, M.G., Hitchcock, D.E., and Willlard, M.L., “Why TQM Fails and What to do About it”,
    This book was addressed towards issues faced by TQM.  However, it is a great read re Six Sigma as well.  Issues surrounding organizational failure in the Start-up, Alignment, and Intergration stages of deployment are considered at length.   
    I have another reference on this subject as well, but need to dig it out.  I’ll send details when found.
     

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    #77875

    Cannizzo
    Participant

    Finance Jock,
    Is the glass half full or half empty? I believe this site does a good job at helping people do things right via their articles rather than showing them what’s wrong. I agree that there could be more articles on the cons of six sigma, but there is nothing to stop anyone from being constructive on this site or forum. Just ask specific questions and you’ll receive plenty of feedback! :)
    For instance, I searched the discussion forum for previous discussions on this topic and came up with the following:
    https://www.isixsigma.com/forum/showmessage.asp?messageID=12476
    Not a tremendous amount of feedback, but definitely a start. Do you agree?
    –Carol

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    #77876

    Ex MBB
    Participant

    Hi Finance Jock,
    Do not be too disappointed.  I believe a majority of the folks that participate in the Forum discussions are Black Belts/Green Belts, and the tools are part of their immediate world.  In fact, click on that Survey icon — once you complete it, it will provide summary statistics from the survey.  About 41% of the participants are Black Belts. 
    I responded to an earlier thread with the ominous title: Criticism of Six Sigma (copied below)
    You really should segment the organization (including all stakeholders: suppliers, customers, and shareholders) when you want to explore any issues, concerns, &/or complaints.  Here are a few of the common issues within the organization… these are some of the comments that I have noticed over the years. 
    Management:
    ·         Results are not what they were promised during the roll-out.  We were promised sustained, breakthrough results.  We do see some results, but…
    ·         It takes too long to complete projects.  If we have a problem, why does it take 4 to 6 months to fix it?  We invested a lot of money and resources into this program
    ·         It seems like I am training other people’s Belts.  Once we have trained the Belts and they achieve certification, they move on to other companies.
    Belt Community:
    ·         Management support — these folks are not giving me the time or the resources to let me complete the projects to achieve the desired results in a reasonable amount of time.  They are also not too adroit in selecting projects: scope is either too unwieldy or the opportunity truly does not realize breakthrough improvement.
    ·         Technical support — I have the PowerPoint slides, but what is the real difference between a Box-Behnken and central composite designs?  I only get to see my MBB once every 2 weeks, and it is a fleeting encounter.
    ·         I receive my certification — so what?  What value does the organization place on my involvement is Six Sigma?  Do I have to go elsewhere once I am certified?  I really like the methodology — maybe another company is more actively involved in its use.
    The rest of the organization (mainly mid-level management):
    ·         No perceived need for Six Sigma.  It appears to be another Quality initiative, and they want my top performers to sit through 2 to 4 weeks of training, and to dedicate 25 to 100% of their time on projects that we are already working on, or projects that have no impact to my function.
    ·         Arrogance — these folks are calling themselves Black Belts and Master Black Belts.  Plus, they are telling me that all the past programs are now meaningless.  We should admit the defeat of TQM and now latch on to this resource consuming program.  Finally, when these folks do not see the results that they promised, they tell me that it is due to my lack of support.
    ·         Complexity — these folks are using Greek letters.  They even need this complex software to generate these Greek letters.  And it takes too long.  And when they are done, their findings usually indicate that I am at fault.  So they give me this long procedure with blank charts that I have to have my people plot things on.
    Note the realtionships between the issues.  A lot of the Six Sigma literature captures these comments as pitfalls. 
    These pitfalls arise due to deployment &/or infrastructure issues.  Six Sigma is not a Field of Dreams: you cannot build it and they will come.  The entire organization needs to:
    ·         Understand their business to capture the breakthrough opportunities as actionable gaps.  Breakthrough meaning that once you closed the gap, the organization will realize tangible value.  Actionable in that it does not take longer than 4 months to close the gap.
    ·         Understand what they need to do (or not do) to timely close these gaps.  Also, what they have to do to continue to realize the brakthroughs.  This points to the infrastructure.
    ·         Keep the Belts motivated and engaged in the business.  Ensure that Six Sigma falls within your organization’s succession planning.
    All of this takes work.  If this work seems unrealistic or unreasonable, and you deploy, your Belts will more than likely become anonymous authors in this forum, asking for advice and venting. 

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    #77877

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Patrick,
    The problem I see with the idea of a “failed deployment” is that people construe it to be that Six Sigma stopped working. Since Six Sigma is a tool flow and the tools are not new tools but just the same tools that have been in use for years. There are not companies out there where t tests and F tests do not work. There aren’t companies where you don’t have to understand if you need to understand if you have equal variances before you choose a t test.
    A failed deployment comes from other factors, in particular poor alignment of the organization or just plain bad management. Failure isn’t indigenous to Six Sigma it is indigenous to some management groups or some management practices. They would screw it up regardless of what initiative they were trying to launch.
    As far a Hammer goes if he wants to disect something he really ought to take a long look at the mess that was made out of multitudes of companies in the name of reengineering. Does it mean that in the format he originally proposed it it was bad? It was what happened to it after people twisted it to fit their personal agenda. The particular problem I have with Hammer at this point is that people have moved on from his reengineering and he is grabbing at the next passing train. What credentials does he have for any type of expertise in SS?
    If you want to talk about this my email is [email protected] or my phone numbers are posted on the website at http://www.SixSigmaApplications.com. I will be traveling the rest of the week so variation in my response time is a function of airlines variation in OTA.
    Good luck

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    #77878

    aush
    Participant

    I dont think it can be better put than what Finance Jock has to say
    I would also like to add further
    Most of the senior management looks into immidiate results and their impact on the bottom line and may be right the way the economy is at present. They will resist investment and production will resist chane. This is a big challenge. To fulfill aproject you have to carry out studies and it requires production time. There will be resistance and many times the failure to not meet the targets are put on the Trials/studies.
    In short The success of  Six sigma or any of the similar tools will depend on What is the commitment from the senior management. They have to realise like in any project there are failures and so with Six sigma projects also.
    It is how commited the management is and how well have they planned the implementation.
    The way economy is moving and people changing I think success is not easy. No matter what is  said the key stil is understanding the process and any BB or GB does take some time to realise the process and in this toime if he moves every thing is lost.
    Suceess of Six Sigma is dependent on MAnagement commitment and their view towars Quality.
     

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    #77879

    Patrick
    Participant

    Mike,
    I agree with most of your observations (by the way, I’m really enjoying the forum lately) but in my experience, the warning signs of a potential failing deployment, albeit stemming from the issues related to cultural change, are more with the perception that Six Sigma is not providing the results expected (everyone expects phenomenal GE savings figures). Moreso than “it stopped working”
    I don’t disagree (sorry for the double negative) that management is the key; this also includes managing expectations, efficient project selection (if you recall an earlier post of mine relating to measuring efficiency in project selection), assuming championing responsibilities, walking the talk, and what I’m seeing now – ensuring career progression and recognition of BB and MBB and aligning a competitive compensation strategy with SS.
    Cheers,
    P

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    #77880

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Patrick,
    I think part of the perception around savings is part of the hype people are getting during the sales pitch from consultants. Common sense shhould intervene in most instances but a lot of these companies get stars in their eyes. There is a guy out there who has committed to $20 billion in year one. Since year one is the poorest yielding year it is an absolutly stupid commitment and an even dumber group that bought into it. Is that failed Six Sigma? No, that is lack of adult leadership.
    The tools work and always will. It doesn’t matter what company or what country you are operating in. It is how it gets deployed. Is that a Six Sigma, TQM, Lean, etc. failure or is it a management failure?
    Good luck.

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    #77881

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Aush,
    Just a couple quick comments.
    I do not believe the economic conditions have anything to do with it. People have been looking for immediate impact to the bottom line since the Allied deployment. If they were not looking for the immediate hit it would be easier to get the deployments to start with DFSS. When you launch in operations all your projects are rework of a failed NPI system. In general it takes so long to have the DFSS results to hit the bottom line nobody will wait.
    Six Sigma does not depend on a management teams view on quality. It is their view on “customer success” and the most efficent business model. There have been so many programs that have pumped management teams so full of crap and doing stuff for the good of mankind that if you go in waving that tired pitch you won’t last long. Elimination of defects and focusing on customers will stand on its own with or without SS, TQM, Lean, etc. from a pure profit motive – which is what the management teams get paid for.

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    #77885

    aush
    Participant

    Mike
    I do not dis agree with you regarding the capability of tools.
    All what I am saying is I have seen a lot of talking by the management but when it comes to implementation there are serious pit falls.
    I also agree there are organisations where tols have been deployed properly but not many organisations understand this.
    Take the case of GE. Was it not driven by Jack Welsh . This is the type of leadership and commitment required for any system to work. In many organisations the words are used and they expect  results which unfortunately does not happen.
    To apply any tools like Six sigma I feel the organisation has to be Mature and not be operating on  a day to day basis.

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    #77891

    billybob
    Participant

    Well folks, here’s the dilemma.
    We have a lone BB who is leading our 6S deployment. I know I have been pretty slamming of 6S in the past (in a fun sort of way) but now I have another serious question I have to ask.
    Our BB is a smooth talker and just out of college, who is a golden boy of the Plant Manager, is now working on an off-shoot of his original project (which wasn’t to impressive by itself anywway but thats a different story).  I visited his project which is now in the control phase and see that charts and graphs haven’t been updated in the last 4 months. So whats gives…is this control? 
    And of course if I complain that I have to now live to different standards than the golden boy, then I am going to be labled a complainer.  I have just been forgiven for my last vocal oppositions of dumb planning/deployments so I’m not going down that road again. 
    So what do i do?
    Jeeper, I need to go hug a possum for emotional strength!
    Later,
    Billybob

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    #77893

    Patrick
    Participant

    Billybob,
    Is there a control plan?
    Has the new capability been confirmed?
    Is the project on hold?
    Have the benefits been realized?
    Has the project been completely documented?
    Has the transition been made back to the process owner?
    Lots of questions to better understand your situation………….

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    #77895

    billybob
    Participant

    Patrick,
    Points well taken, thanks!  But all are no’s!
    Later,
    Billybob

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    #77899

    melvin
    Participant

    Also take a look through George Eckes’ book, “Making Six Sigma Last”.  It covers creation / moving toward a ‘six sigma culture’ and pitfalls to avoid along the road in getting there.

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    #77917

    Gabriel
    Participant

    Billybob
    Just curious. In which way was the control charts modified? Is variation being reduced? Is the average further center? Remember that the control chart helps you to improve the process, even without a SixSigma project there. I mean, you will not intentionally avoid improvement because the project is “closed” and changing for better would still be a special cause of variation.
    Now, if the chart shows now a situation significantly worse that the one “achieved”, then you may cry fowl.

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    #77919

    JamieS
    Participant

    Our Six Sigma leader recently suggested a book that was very interesting and relates directly to the questions being discussed….its “Making Six Sigma Last” by George Eckes. It was well worth the read.
    Jamie
     

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    #77924

    Ashok
    Participant

    Hi
    Just some thoughts.
    Six sigma is a methodolgy and if applied in discipline will definitely benefit.  Failed Six Sigma Deployments can only be contributed to the following reasons:
    1) No Management committment
    2) No disciplinary approach
    3) No plan for sustainability
    4) No thoughts on Mistakeproofing
    5) Use of Shortcuts,or directly working on the known solutions
    6) No out of box thinking.
    My experience suggest that all time the Six Sigma was beneficial to the organization, and the methodology has helped in cost saving ( Hard as well as soft), Customer satisfaction( If worked closely with the Customer on the VOC’s), Quality improvement.  However key to the success is still the Managment support (100%).
     
     
    Ashok
     
     

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    #78780

    Marnie
    Participant

    Finance Jock,
    I see you have got some of the feedback .  I agree with most of what Ex-MBB has to say.
    I am a BB with my 2nd company involved in Six Sigma.  Here are pitfalls that I have seen (please note this is from the stand point of a BB)…

    lack of mangement support of buy-in (Sr Mangement & Jr Mangement)
    putting people in the position(BBs & MBBs) just to get rid of them
    too many consultants with no stake in the company
    not fully deploying Six Sigma (only going to the BB level)
    having BBs work pet projects for their managers NOT real stategic problems
    Unrealistic finance goals
    etc. 
    I could go on if you need more.  Six Sigma is not perfect but with good support I believe it can be sucessful.
    Here are somethings that I have found work

    Hire MBBs from the outside.  Look for MBBs with a good track record, who can support the BBs from the beginning.
    Make sure the mangement team buys into Six Sigma
    Fully support the Six Sigma team
    Have your MBB report to the top.
    Have BBs report to one level higher than the people you want them supporting
    Make BBs the same rank (or higher) as than the managers they are supporting
    Good Luck on your decision

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    #78782

    Howard
    Participant

     I got a couple of thoughts if 6S is incorrectly executed …
    *  quality projects don’t tie to companies’ initiatives … strategically ineffective
    *  many process/business metrics … loss of focus for process/product mgt
    *  people only focus on their own areas to define the scope of quality projects.  It may be easier for project completion … duplicate & disconnected processes
    *  seek for number of projects closure … waste of resources
    *  carry out DMAIC & DFSS on internal processes, see things from your view, not customers’ view … can’t improve customers’ satisfaction
    What’s your thought?
     

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    #78784

    billybob
    Participant

    Helo folks,
    Here’s what is killing my GB project.  No one cares about my project but me; I haven’t been approached about the project by my boss, the champion, or my BB. And don’t tell me to crash their office to make them listen to me; its evident from the conversations I had with them that it really just a political game. 
    Let’s see, my project was one of my own choosing of something I thought needed to be fixed.  Its not a bottleneck operation so there’s no pressure, and labor cost are so intertwined that ineffecienties do tend to get burried.  But I’m going to fix the problems or I’ll die trying to satisfy myself.
    I am begining to see people’s points that projects need to have an effect on the business.  To me, projects really need to be identifed and driven from the top to show importance and forced buy-in at the different levels.
    In the future i’ll use the skills I learned in GB training to make my job easier and help me sell my ideas and directions I believe we need to pursue.  But if my BB comes to me shortly after training and ask me what my next project is going to be I don’t have an clean word I can share with him that will be abled to be spoken in mixed company.
    So, I’m not going to be a GB or BB as an occupation so I’m not going to leave my job.  I’m just going to use the tools I have to help me do my job better.  Manufacturing is a weird world.
    Later,
    Billybob

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    #78786

    Mikel
    Member

    BillyBob,
    I am glad to see you have come to your senses. Only when the tools become integrated in the way we do business do they become effective. This BB and GB and MBB stuff is a poor substitute fo good systems.

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    #78787

    billybob
    Participant

    Hello,
    I always had my senses.  I agree 6S is a good tool set, it will never fix anything for you but at lease will help you focus your efforts..if your data is good and reliable.  But here like probably a lot of other places there was good intentions of a program that soon become a second thought. 
    I know the 7 of us who went through GB training are burnt out from it. Weeks of training and site support on projects that were mostly poor selctions. We were more frustrated from something that stole every spare minute we had while our normal jobs suffered.  It was more of jump through the hoops so the management staff could say we have 6S. I much rather get temporally burnt out making a difference than working on something that really didn’t make a difference and do it so the upper bossman can save face.
    I’m not saying 6s sucks, im only saying when its done wrong it sucks. (sorry for the language ladies)!  Then it becomes just another program of the month without direction or intent.
    Later,
    Billbob..and way to go Patriots! 

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    #78788

    Curtis
    Participant

    Here are two good articles about deploying Six Sigma:
    Implementing the Six Sigma Solution: How to achieve quantum leaps in quality and competitiveness. Jerome A. Blakeslee, Jr. Quality Progress July 1999
    Six Sigma Program Success Factors. Mark Goldstein Quality Progress, November 2001

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    #78789

    billybob
    Participant

    Thanks,
    I’ll put both books on my Christmas list for the plant manager….they’ll look good sitting in his bookcase. 
    Later,
    Billybob

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    #78796

    shree
    Member

    Hi,
    A lot of people want to know why something failed even after having the success factors spelt out.  Why is it that people are more interested in going after the failures?  It is surprising that some business or customer is sponsoring such a study while a ot can be done with where it could be applied readily for the benefits it brings.
    When someone does operate a machinery would they consider how this piece of machinery failed in other environments or go after the manufacturer’s recommendations? 
    Then, how does one justify the time invested in understanding failures of a process?  So at the end of the day if GE came out and said well Six Sigma doesn’t work and it was all a bunch of hype, how many companies out there would really follw suit?  So how many organizations and consultants out there unlearn the tools of DMAIC and DFSS and the rest of it. 
    The probability of failure is not with the deployment but with the fact that when more than one person (one organizations) does it you hve to face the variation and the results of that are partial, total, and maybe no success at all.  People are the root cause for its success or failure.
    Why does something (statistical tools) that is effective over ages (probably as old as Algebra) have to be accepted just because GE certified it?  If it is good, it will live and sustain and if not will have to fade out.
    Shree

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    #78797

    shree
    Member

    Billybob,
    I like your approach and attitude toward fixing the issues regardless.  Let us look at this way.  Have you ever considered (probably did at some point) as to why your management would be motivated to support you for your goals through the 6s project? 
    Then if they are not motivated why is it that you cannot run the project without calling it 6s?  There is not one handicap you would have by taking out that name.  Maybe you trid it but if you haven’t it is worth.  I am anxious to find out if you did it that way.
    Manufacturing is weird and so are people an all they need is a wake up call and some of them need the manual voice saying, it is time rather than an alarm clock.
    Keep on keeping on Billybob.  Do not give up!
    Shree

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    #78799

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Shree & Billybob,
    Project selection should belong to Champions. If they are leaving it to the BB (particularly if it is a BB like Billybob described) then they will miss the overall tie between the projects and the overall business strategy.
    The fact that they decided to deploy using the method they did should have been a flag that it is a fairly superficial program to begin with. The project and deployment strategy are a function of poor management.
    I get accused of being a Welch/Bossidy groupie from time to time but there is no doubt they run their companies. They understand how to drive their companies. There are a lot of Welch/Bossidy wanna be’s but they lack the leadership skills and the intestinal fortitude to do what these guys did. When it doesn’t work they say “It doesn’t work in our industry.” The fact is they don’t have the guts to be leaders.
    I think Billybobs decision to use it on things in his work area because he sees the usefulness is right. I would get one on one with the Yuppie they have running the program and tell him what a POS program he is running and why you believe that. He needs to know that you know what he is. He looks in the mirror every day. Unless he is completely without ethics he will change. That is just me – the approach isn’t for everyone but it is what I would need to do just to live with myself.
    Just my opinion. I could be wrong.
     

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    #78806

    billybob
    Participant

    Hello,
    Project selection was left to the GB canidates prior to the program launch.  Its a dumb deployment, and if i speak my mind I’m labeled anti big-boss.  I been there before.  So I keep quiet, do my job, and do the best I can!
    Later,
    Billybob

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    #78818

    Marnie
    Participant

    BillyBob,
    Project Selection is critical.  But dumping a poor project is important too. (Or at least from my stand point)  I am a BB that supports 20 GBs.  With trying to run my projects and theirs, I am going nuts.  I have been given my financial goals for next year 3/4 Million.  with most of the projects we are looking at with ~5,000 each it will take 150 projects to make goal.  I can not do 150 projects in a year.  I am very close to the point of pulling the plug on alot of GB projects (of their chosing from a list) because we had no financials on the projects until they were picked.  Also 2 years no savings were asked for.
    Good Luck.  If the project is important then fix it.  But understand the BBs point if they have similar goals to meet.
    Cheers,
    Marnie
    PS   I have been supporting my GBs on any project.  Most of them don’t show up to the meetings though.
     

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    #78823

    billybob
    Participant

    Hello,
    Mike Carnell said it well, that project selection is the Champion’s job. I didn’t understand that important point of 6S until I and the other GBs started projects.  We all ended up picking pet projects of our own choosing and most of them didn’t mean squart to the business.  Sure we’re going to save a few bucks, perhaps enough to pay for the training, but I don’t see any of the project solving anyone’s discomfort let alone anyone’s pain. 
    But when a project like this is launched with management’s support, and its a poor launch as we see now; its far from my place to tell my boss’s, boss’s boss’s boss that he made a mistake and has championed a bad program that he was key in bringing it to life here. 
    Its now just another program of the month and the proof of it is, as i stated before, in 3 months I showed my project to my champion once, never to my BB, and never to anyone in management except at review during training then these key individuals are not seen again regarding the project.
    Our deployment will never fail because the PM is sure to make sure he saves face in this pet project. It will fail because it really doesn’t mean much to anyone besides the fact we can say we have a 6S program in place in name only.  In effect we’ll have a “broken” 6S program, and we’ll have one in place he can talk about when he meets with his peers. But its all smoke and mirrors.
    Later,
    Billybob..and i’m done trashing this topic in this thread!

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