Full Management support

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    We currently on the planning stages of  implementing Six Sigma in our organization.  Given that this is the first initiative in quality management, I proposed to management (i.e., being the appointed Black Belt and Implementation Coordinator) that the company should formulate a quality policy statement so that we could have a guiding principle in our quality initiative.  The overall concept and implementation plan was approved by management and that we are all raring to go on our implementation.  We have identified  people to join teams and other 6S activities.  Unfortunately, when we nominated people to join 6S team, members of the members of the management team suddenly proposed that some nominate people be excused from the team due to their current workload. With their previous commitment to the initiative, I was hoping that they push that  their staff be part of this since it will bring forth development to the people and the process.
    Given what is happening on the initial phase, I can see that management commitment is quite weak.  This is because management can’t seem to prioritize the quality initiative over other responsibilities. 
    Anybody there who has the same case?  Does anybody have some tips on how I could get full management support to ensure success of our quality initiative and the Six Sigma? We can proceed with the quality initiative but definitely may lead to failure given this attitude.


    Mike Carnell

    The situation you are in is almost always there regardless of the company. The only place I didn’t have it happen was GE Aircraft Engines. They pull so heavily in Wave I we had to send 3 back. Not typical.
    I have run into a couple situations recently where the top level management teams have gone through the training themselves. Once they understand that theyare dealing with something that can create knowledge and savings it seems to create a lot more commitment.
    We just did an IQPC conference in Niagra Falls. Mike Englund presented what they are doing at Honeywell Systems and Services. They actually have the Management team teaching a module during training. He felt it was working well and conveyed the right message in terms of commitment. I didn’t get contact information for him but taking some time to locate him could be woth the time. You can try IQPC in Toronto.
    Good luck.


    Chris Butterworth

    Getting the attention and commitment of management isn’t easy unless you can convince them of the economic merit behind a quality initiative. I suggest you provide a presentation on Six Sigma for the executive team. Then ask for dedicated resources. Asking people to commit a few hours a week while their inboxes are overflowing is unreasonable. Management needs to add Six Sigma responsibilities to their work AND take away other responsibilities to free them up.


    Mike Nellis

    Hello JoeBB,
    It wasn’t until I convinced our VP of Ops & Engr to let me follow DMADV rigor for my NPI project and we held several tollgates for the design and manufacturing of the product did the big-wigs take notice of how effective Six Sigma can be.  Never before had they seen excellent project management rigor like that in DFSS.  We accomplished our product introduction in 6 months when previously it took a minimum of 2 years for this company to introduce a new product.  Now the big-wigs boast of their Six Sigma program “they” were instrumental in implementing.  Riiiiight. 
    So, my advice is to get someone who has done Six Sigma projects before on your team and kick some butt on a few projects to show the “value” and “priority” of having a good quality program…project management…data driven…business practice…called Six Sigma.  Put clear monetary expectations on your Six Sigma program and make it happen.
    Hope this helps,


    oruc kaya

    Dear BB,I am sure you are not alone, since it is a common problem for all of us. Committment must be more than compliant.Otherwise it is not a easy game.My recommendation is to create some recognation and rewarding system for this. You can say that “overall performance at the end of year, will be based on the performance on the 6 Sigma committment (i.e % 40 of premium will be based on the 6 sigma project success)Second recommendation is that managers involved in project can make a presentation how the project is going on, to the top managers.  They can prepare regular status report to top management as well.For the rest of the people (let’s say blue collars since they perform the job in the real life) you should explain the importance and benefits they will have both for business and family lifebest regard / oruç kaya BB – Borusan Lojistik – Turkey   



    Hi Joe,
    In the initial stages of implementing all the companies face the same problem which you are facing. The beauty of six sigma is that it helps you show the dollar saving befit for implementing the practice.
    My suggestion is that show the management the savings that they would be making by implementing the six sigma practice in the organisation. This amount should be in real dollar terms. Secondly about the commitment of teh people. Please show them the exact time for which the people would be involved. Generally, when a six sigma practice is being implemented initially, only 1 or max 2 persons are required to make the methodology. Post this, black belts or green belts take up the initiative, who come from within the process. If you can let me know the way you have gone about implementing the initiative and at what stage you are I would be able to help you. You can write to me at [email protected].


    Brian Tilley

    Management needs to drive Six Sigma from the highest level down through the lowest.  No exec or high-level manager should be able to say no to a “winner” project without significant justification.
    It also needs to be part of your performanc plan.  Participation in Six Sigma, whether as a Yellow/Green/Black belt should be part of their job responsibilities and they should be held accountable.
    Your top-level exec either needs to conduct executive level training and strategy sessions to convince them to be on board (ideal) or make their perfomance (pay, bonus) based on their cooperation (non-ideal).


    Matt M

    You are not the first and willl certainly not be the last to deal with this situation.
    Some ideas we’ve come up with in implementing our Six Sigma Program:
    1) Start with YB training just to get the name, words & basic ideas out there.
    2) Then GB to work into the time and resource committments.
    3) Then BB/Champion training on a small scale to show the improvements that can be made to the bottom line.
    4) Having Managment involved and going through training at each step along with the bottom line improvements really helps to get committment.
    Our situation is now that too many want to be BBs, GBs, etc and we are trying to ensure that the top candidates are chosen.


    Dr. Patel

    I am first Wave BB. We had same situation. We got over it with the help of CEO. The tool was Simply the data. Show them the data first. Before and After picture with the cost of resourses. They still won’t buy it. They are so used to firefighting. They need their best fire fighter. You need to show them your Fire prevention strategy. Get one or two of them on board showing them early & easy big hitters. We use “Car’ Terminology.  I would rather stop the 1988 dodge Aries running at 55mph, change the engine to Volks vegan in a two days and run 80mph  next two year with double mileage. Next thing you know, they will want ferrari engine after first success ful project.
    One thing is sure.  You will need mgmnt support in full. You need to make it happen. I don’t know exactly how in your situation. It will be routine problem for you get used to it.


    André Fokt

    Like you, we just started the initialphase of implementing Six Sigma in our organization. There were two major items to solve; one was to select the BB-projects and second was to select the kandidates for future Black Belts. Together with the Generall Manager we selected a list of 30 possible kandidates. In the MT-meeting a selection was made based on several criteria. One of them was the present position of the kandidate in the organisation. Question was wether or not it was possible to free the kandidate from his present tasks to prevent the problems you mentioned in your mail. Once the selection was made by the MT in full consensus, we formalized it by changing the job describtion of the kandidate into that of Black Belt. After this moment the kandidates were totally free to spend 100% of the time to the Six Sigma projects. After these steps we made an announcement into the organisation about the new function of the Black Belts to inform all employees. Only after these steps and actions we started the training of the Black Belts.
    Untill this moment we have the full commitment of the MT and I have no worries that this will change in the coming future. So, main task is to change the job description and formelize this in the organisation. To my opinion you can then prevent problems about capacity and workload.


    Ted Washington

    Joe , Please don’t take anything I say personal. Management paid your proposal “Lip Service” more than approving the initiative. If you find a solid answer to your dilemma, pass that info on to all of us. What you are describing is resistance. Keep in mind, that is a valid response, so that’s what you have to deal with. Many organizations have “Dastard” committees and are happy to say “Yes we have that committee” referring to quantity of Improvement Teams, not the quality. I wonder were you given the assignment because you are the best trained person for the job? Probably so. The way I see your situation is:
    1) Reject the assignment, which is tantamount to professional suicide. 2) Play with the team that’s on the floor.
    Personally, I’d rather work with people that are interested in the mission at hand. I play with the team that’s on the floor. So, job # 1 is to train that “willing” bunch of people you have in the room with you on performance improvement. That’s even if you have to begin with fundamental principles such as CQI before you enter into 6S type issues.
    It’s important to let that team of willing people know they can make a difference in policy and procedure. Your skills as a leader, and what’s probably more important, your group/team facilitation skills will play a huge part in the outcomes you are seeking.
    I’m not asking you to like this position you find yourself in, remember it’s the case more often than not and you are not alone. Your choices in this matter are limited. If I were you I’d go ahead with the project and make it fun for all. Half the fight is team building. I hope you have a great time.
    Ted Washington
    Madden MHC
    QM Team

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