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    Mike McRandall

    I know that this subject has been bandied about quite a bit, but here’s the general gist of my concern.
    Our management has tasked me with giving them a time frame in which we would implement six sigma, within our facility.  I don’t believe that they (or I) have a real grasp of exactly what six sigma is.
    We became an ISO registered house a few years ago, and they saw a timetable put together for the implementation of that effort.  Not being clear on implementing six sigma, they fully expect a similar timetable to be forthcoming.  I don’t see it as the same, at all, though I could be wrong.  In fact, it seems that you can commit to six sigma, but is there really any way to know that you’ve implemented (or deployed) it, seeing as how it’s a continuous improvement effort that you’re really looking at?
    In short, I’m not sure exactly how to present to upper management, a timetable for implementation, when we’re not looking at something as succinct as an ISO certification.  Any suggestions?
    Mike McRandall
    Quality Manager



    You’re right:  it’s a journey, not a destination.  Start by asking “what/where are we” and “what/where do we want to be” in terms of serving customers, efficiency, defect reduction, throughput, etc.
    See by Reigle.


    John J. McDonough

    Of course you can have a timetable.  You need to if it’s going to happen for your company.  But you need to think through what you mean by “implementation”.
    First, get a few key execs off to Six Sigma Academy’s boot camp.  Then you can sit down with them and put a few stakes in the ground.  Are you going to go for 3% of the employees as certified BB’s?  Are you going to go for $1B annual savings from SS projects?  Are you going to use DFSS for all new product releases?  Are you going to demand that all CI projects be run by a Black Belt?
    Once you make these kinds of decisions, then you can begin to frame your program and understand what it will take, not only in calendar, but in resources.


    Praveen Gupta

    This question has been asked before by companies that have been used to achieving certifications. First of all, it must be communicated that Six Sigma is not about achieving certification, instead it is all about improving profitability.  Having said that, best thing would be to schedule a 2-4 hours introduction to your executives just to expand their thinking in this direction.
    Then, if they are convinced, next steps can be determined. Usually, the first step should be the business analysis to demonstrate opportunity for profitability in order to be passionately committed to the initiative.
    There is no need to attend a boot camp or expensive training yet
    I hope it helps.


    john beaudoin

    Mike,  I might be able to help.  Our facility of about 200 people started down the six sigma trek in August 2000.  We have about 30 trained Greenbelts here 3 years later and 3 trained Blackbelts.  This 3rd year is the year that we really feel that Six Sigma thinking is starting to become part of our business.  With that said, I will try to give you a few guidlines.
    As with any large project that a project manager gets handed by management, you need to have a Meaure of Success (MOS).  Our company has finally arrived at something that makes sense, and I will share that here. 
    First, You need to target how many people in your organization you would like to see as Six Sigma Experts.  You know you will need a Champion, some trainers (Master Blackbelts), and some Greenbelts to start using the tools on projects.  Many companies might want to look at only indirect labor positions, since these people are the only hope of having any kind of time to work on projects.  Note: Dedicated Blackbelts is probably a good way to go.  Set a goal of about 50% of indirect labor trained long term, and set shorter term goals for the first year, etc.
    Next, Look at the number of projects you expect your organization to complete and implement.  Your measurement should look at the ratio of projects to trained personnel.  A good target is about 75%.  This may sound alarming as many people expect each trained person to do a project every 6 months, but the reality is initially, a lot of projects will get started and then fizzle out or you will find that someone you thought would make a good Six sigma belt may not at all enjoy the work and be overwhelmed by the training.
    Last, Look at the Key Performance Indicators for your business (KPI).  If you improve sales, lower costs, etc., then you should be able to use your calculated project savings and determine the % impact 6-Sigma had on your business.  After 3 years, we are looking at a 30% impact target.
    The other knowns you have to work with are the 4 weeks of training required by blackbelts and 2 weeks of training required by Greenbelts.  Note that training projects selected for a Greenbelt to get certified are usually simpler projects and require a lot of tool usagage to demonstrate knowledge.  These do take 6-9 months for first timers to get through.  Some companies want the complicated items worked on right away to pay for the training, and I have seen greenbelts put on such projects take 2 years to get certified working on such an endeavor.  Don’t make the mistake of expecting the giant savings on the first round of projects unless you have some serious waste that is easy to fix.
    Final Advise: Set multiple small short term goals.  For example: Train X Champions, Y Blackbelts, and Z Greenbelts first year.  Certify %Y and %Z Belts.  Complete %(X+Z projects)  We found savings to average about $75,000 per project.  2nd Year…… 3rd Year…….  Remember, this is a long term commitment.



    The book “Leading Six Sigma” by Snee and Hoerl will aid you with your current assignment. Do NOT go forward with the SS deployment unless the leadership is fully behind the initiative and are committed for a long term change.
    I have seen companies take 6 months to a year for the ground work to be laid.
    You may want to send the leadership to some of the SS introduction seminars by some of the training vendors. Just watch they will be selling you their services.
    If you get to the deployment stage there are some great tools that will help you with your deployment planning. Just watch out for someone giving you a cookie cutter approach. Make sure it customize to your company’s needs and direction.
    I’m developing a project plan (WBS) for our companies deployment.


    Mark Almeter

    I would suggest reading “The Six Sigma Way” (Pande) or “The Six Sigma Revolution” (Eckes).  Most companies hire consultants in the initial stages of the Six Sigma roll-out.  Before the deployment can begin, some significant planning should be done upfront. 

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