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How To Face Failed 6 Sigma Projects

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  • #32159

    Cravens
    Participant

    As a new Black Belt, I conducted several 6 sigma projects. Some succeeded, but other failed. There are many reasons occurring this result, but when it happened we face some problems on how encourage team members and how to get the continuous supports from the managers. What do you do when your project fails?

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    #85542

    Robert Butler
    Participant

      If your project was done properly then even if you didn’t get the dollars to the bottom line, successful product/process rollout, etc. you did gain something that is often not  the case at the end of other failed efforts-you have carefully verified and documented a number of approaches, ideas, methods, etc. that won’t work within a given framework and you know why.
      This isn’t nearly as exciting as a success that drops to the bottom line but if the lessons and the analysis are kept in mind it will eliminate a lot of future attempts at re-inventing a square wheel.  It will put everyone in the position of being able to ask very intelligent questions about any proposed future changes-specifically, if someone attempts to revisit one of the issues, you and your team members are in the position of being able to present what was done and then ask what, if anything, the future proposed effort will do differently.
      About 10 years ago I was part of a team that had done all the right things, -pareto chart, VOC, cause and effect, carefully crafted and executed experimental design, …everything…and the result was absolutely nothing.  What we did do was demonstrate that, as the process then existed, a lot of closely held beliefs simply were not true.  In addition we demonstrated that several “key” variables weren’t.  Time went by and about 5 years later a new manager with a new team tried to put together a similar study.  I was no longer working in that department but I had kept a well documented copy of our work.  I invited myself to the group meeting and presented our findings.  The whole point of my presentation was to ask what had changed.  As it turned out, not much had and instead of launching a new team down the same path, a much smaller group went out, confirmed our old findings, and then got down to the business of really trying to figure out what was wrong with the process.  Their efforts took them in directions that no one had imagined and about 8 months later they had a real success.
      Its been said that “there is nothing worse than the sight of a beautiful theory murdered by a brutal gang of facts” but if you are witness to such an event you are at least in the position of knowing how the murder was committed and you may be able to prevent another like it in the future.

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    #85648

    ALEK DE
    Participant

    There are many reasons why Six sigma Projects fail . Most common problem what I have realised is that at the begining itself we commit mistake by not taking a feasible project. Dreams are dream & Six Sigma is not dream. Why I am telling so is that Projects should be taken with clear goal & feasible goal . I believe considerable time should be given for taking / selecting a project charter before the Team kicks off & responsibility should lie with senior Management.
    Another significant problem is deployment in organisation itself . Though Six sigma projects are driven by top management but the success depends on working Management. Here it fails most of the time. See .. some one has to take responsibilty of defect / not generating defect. Who takes that responsibility??
    Once we can address this issues sincerely , most of the Six sigma projects will not die in between & we can really remove the concept “six sigma is the one of the biggest industrial joke “
     
    Regards
    ALEK

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    #85674

    RKevin
    Member

    Just curious.  When did you first suspect your project would fail (relate to the DMAIC time sequence if possible)???  I am a Green Belt in training, but I also have an assigned project. (Accounts receivable and collections related — probably not a good Six Sigma fit to start with!) I am finding many “critical X” factors I can not control (e.g., external, legal issues, internal culture issues.)  I’m in “Analyze”, and the more I understand about my project, the worse off I feel.  Just trying to find out when you first felt things may not go well.   Thanks in advance!!

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    #85680

    JVaughn
    Participant

    What is your operational definition of “failed”?  I’m not sure what your question means.

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    #85685

    Michael Toomey
    Participant

    For those projects that have had a difficult time or perceived failure at the end, I have to ask where the Project Sponsor has been all this time?  Have they attended the project team meetings or the project reviews?   It is the sponsor’s responsibility during these to wear the business hat and make sure that projects move forward with acceptable results.  Even the best scoped project may find that the X’s are not controllable within constraints.  If the “belt” team has used the Six Sigma tools to appropriately identify this and can visually demonstrate it using, for example, a 4 Block of Benefit to Effort, then it is the Sponsor’s responsibility to stop the project at any phase.  A good sponsor will not let a project go on just for the sake of experience. Suffice to say, it will be difficult to say, “Stop”.  Stopping a Training project is even worse.  But, the demoralizing effect of letting the “belt” team beat their head against the wall with no results has the exact consequences as noted in an earlier post (Do another project?!!).  Bottom line: A large proportion of project failures can be traced to the Project Sponsor.  If the sponsor is not absolutely committed to the responsibilities of their role, then the project has a real challenge before it is even launched.   A good test for this is the Calendar Test.  Check the sponsor’s calendar and see how much time is committed to the project.  The sponsor’s calendar of a failed project is usually void of dedicated project participation time.   

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    #85691

    RKevin
    Member

    In my case, the goal is to reduce a certain class of unpaid bills from an annual “write off” level of 20% to (about) 17%.  This equates to close to $75k annually.  I am finding that I may accomplish getting bills “out the door” more efficiently, and with more accuracy, but that does not mean a person/agent (e.g., insurance company) will pay it.  In fact, data I have does not at all support a hard relation to billing efficiency and bill being paid.  If there is no “bottom line” effect from my project’s focus to increase billing timeliness and accuracy, then I would consider the project as failed.  Thanks for your interest in this!!   

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    #85692

    Heebeegeebee BB
    Participant

    A phase-gated review/status process should eliminate the need fo facing a failed project.   if you can’t continue after reviewing at the DMAIC phase-gate reviews, yank your Champion/Sponsor in the meeting and spell it out.    You can’t over-communicate when it comes to Project status reviews and barrier busting.
     
    If that doesn’t work, there’s always Sepuku.
    -Heebee

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    #85695

    Steph
    Member

    Sepuku…
    What’s that?

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    #85697

    Heebeegeebee BB
    Participant

       Steph,
       Seppuku is a japanese term used in place of the more vulgar “Hara-Kiri” (Belly-cut) to describe ritualized suicide committed in order to maintain standing and honor of the commitor and his/her family.   Normally reserved for the nobility and Bushi (Samurai) classesof Feudal-era Japan.    Men would meet at a pre-arranged time and place, normall ritually cleansed and attired in white.   They would choose one or two “seconds” the main being called, “Kaishaku” whose responsibility it was to decapitate the Commitor prior to his screaming out in pain, thus losing face.   In some texts, the Kaishaku’s goal was not to sever the head completely, but to leave a small flap of skin, to avoid the Commitor’s head from rolling around on the floor, thus also, losing face/honor.
       Prior to the Kaishaku’s actions, the Commitor would be granted time to reflect, issue a statement, and/or write a farewell letter.    Then he would withdraw his primary hand/arm from his robe and unsheath a small dirk known either as a Tanto, or Aikuchi, or in some cases a Yoroi-Toshi (Armor piercing dagger).   In some cases, the blades would be dismounted from their battlefield hilts/pommels/scabbards and remounted in “Shira Saya” – a plain wood hilt/scabbard normally used for transit and storage.   This was in order to facilitate it’s removal , cleaning and storage in the family shrine, or local tempel following the act.   Unlike in most film portrayals, the Katana and Wakazashi were almost never used, except perhaps in an impromptu setting such as a battlefield, or when a smaller blade wasn’t available.   The Katana was reserved for use by the Kaishaku and the Wakizashi was a bit unwieldy for the complex cut and control needed.
       At this point the committor would ritually cleanse the tanto with holy water and would wrap the blade in a layer of rice paper.   He would then calmly insert the dirk,Edge up, into the lower abdomen either on the left or right side, parallel with the hip bone.   Once inserted, without so much as a sound, or flinch, he would twist the edge of the blade 90 degrees, edge facing the direction of the next cut and would sweep across his abdomen.   Once to the other side, again, without a sound, or grimace, he would again twist the edge 90 degrees edge facing up and sweep upwards, using the rib cage as a guide, stopping at the breastbone.   He would then calmly and stoically withdraw the blade and place gently back on the table.   If he cries out, or starts to lose control, the Kaishaku steps in and commences with his process.
       Women of nobility would follow the same level of ritual, but would normally pierce their jugular, rather than their abdomen.
    The goal was to preserve honor through calmness, control and stocism.
    Pretty grisly stuff!
    -Heebee

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    #85700

    see pea kay
    Member

    Certainly if someone used six sigma tools than we must look elsewhere for blame! 6s is always pure

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    #85701

    Anonymous
    Participant

    that story gives me the heebeegeebees…
    nuk nuk nuk :)
     

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    #85702

    Heebeegeebee BB
    Participant

    Nice one Anon!
    Also, I just re-read my Seppuku post.   I should have spell-checked/grammar-checked prior to sending out.   Looks like DPMO = 27,778 and Sigma = 3.415 +/- 1.5 shift.
    Yikes, Looks like I need to find a way to save face.   Maybe I should…Nah.

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    #85717

    mishra N U
    Participant

    we need to encourage and reward the teams for their efforts even if they failed to achieve their goals . We should  explain that only 70 % of six sigma projects are sucessful due to very complexity of projects taken .

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    #85724

    marklamfu
    Participant

    If the project team failed to achieve the objective(s) of the six sigma project, my opinion is:
    1. The sponsor organize this team to perform formal F.A(failure analysis).
    2. The team identify the root cause of failure, Is objective defined too high? poor time control, skill adequate? etc.
    3. The leader chair meeting to review the findings with sponsor
    4. Define the inprovement area or corrective action plan
    5. Encourage the team to restart this project or shoulder other new project.
     

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    #85804

    Heebeegeebee BB
    Participant

    Mishra,
       I’m sorry, but your last statement is absolutely ridiculous.   The 70% yield may be true in your organization, but to make such a sweeping statement using generalities is irresponsible.
       Again, if using a formalized, systematic project management process with phased-gates, project failures can be avoided.
    My $0.02
    -Heebee

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    #85816

    Mikel
    Member

    Heebee,
    Do you know where that 70% came from. It sounds like something made up to cover for a poor program or poor training. BB’s with only a 70% success rate would be run out of every company I know of.

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    #85822

    Heebeegeebee BB
    Participant

    Stan,
    No doubt, buddy…
    Mishra is the one to ask though, since he/she posted it.
    I almost spewed coffee on my monitor when I read that.
    -Heebee

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