Implementation help- CEO is clueless

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    Background info incoming before problem: I am new to my current company. They are (at least they think) trying to implement Six Sigma. My previous employer was a strong six sigma culture. I am only a green belt but I’d say I’m more advanced than the average green belt. The CEO is not trained/certified at any level. We have about 20 certified people. Mix of Green/Black belts. The CEO is pretty adamant about NOT having MBB/Leader types in his organization. He has had good results on a couple other initiatives like ISO by de-centralizing so he wants to do everything that way. He believes that having 20 or so people certified is enough and that those people can manage themselves to implement six sigma.
    My question is: How can i communicate the necessity to have somebody leading the implementation. Are there any examples that i can give so that he understands how important this phase of implementation is. If somebody doesn’t help him understand then six sigma is going to fail here and get written off as worthless. Looking around this place it is process poor and ripe for the picking. Six Sigma could have tremendous impact.
    Thank you



    to clarify….my CEO is a Fabulous CEO.  He’s only clueless about six sigma.  I think if presented with a valid argument he’d make a good decision about it.



    If your CEO is a fabulous CEO, HE MUST BE DOING SOME THINGS (PROBABLY MANY THINGS) RIGHT. Sometimes you have to go by instincts alone. The SS program that he/she may want would be as a support program rather than as a leading program.
    Is your organization making money? Why spoil a good thing with SS? In other words, are you sure SS program will be effective enough to increase revenue on top of the other programs he/she has in place? The ONLY argument you can make is show how he can make SS program more effective with the resources he/she has in place.
    My 2 cents.



    I don’t know when Moto first introduced all this ‘administrative’ stuff, but prior to 1990, they didn’t have MBBs, BBs, GBs, or YBs either. Just a fine group of engineers who took personal responsibility for their processes. What does that remind you of ….the Toyota Production System?
    Andy U



    Andy U makes a very good point… The work is the work – regardless of job title, organization, or certification. I think your post implies that you are in favor of a more formal, SS structure utilizing MBB’s and/or Deployment Champion. That said, in an attempt to answer your question, here’s a suggestion:
    1). Identify the “work” that a MBB or Deployment Champion would do to make SS successful in your company (ie: coordinate decentralized BB/GB efforts, prioritize projects, host communication meetings, technical support, etc., etc.)
    2). Prioritize the list ranging from “must get done” to “nice to get done”
    3). Present the list to your CEO to verify that he has thought about/is aware of the tasks/responsibilities
    4). As a team, discuss options as to how those tasks/responsibilities could be assigned and/or distributed within your company’s SS organization.
     Bottom line: As long as the list gets done and done correctly, who is to say what the right organization looks like? Give it a shot……    OLD


    Dog Sxxt

    A saying from Chinese late paramount leader, Deng Xiaoping, “A cat is a good cat regardless it’s a white or black cat as long as it can catch the mouse.”
    As long as your SS infrastructure can serve the purpose, it shall be all right. No two organizations are identical and can use same improvement approach.



    A rigorous 6 Sigma structure etc will work if your company really has a huge number of employees and you need ongoing investment in ‘culture change’. For a mid- sized company, it is likely that you need to let results speak for themselves. If as a SS-enthusiast, an active champion can take on some challenging projects and demonstrate how the use of the methodology has helped, it will be quite sufficient.
    The danger of creating formal SS structures is in building SS careers for people, which may be an overkill for this organization.
    Dr Mikel Harry is his book had recommended some 5% to be trained as BBs to begin with, I think. What would 5% of your managers be? Also, if there is an existing quality org str (given ISO expereience etc.) can they be the SS people themselves??
    Like everybody wlse who replied, I would urge you to consider the industry you are in (transactional/ not), current quality structure (process definied/ not), org size etc. before selling a structure to the CEO.
    Maybe he is more of a ‘Theory of Constraints’ guy.
    – Mahesh
    – Mahesh



    Yrag28 post(s) indicate a organization using Six Sigma as a tactical measure, not strategic. Yrag apparently wants them to use SS as a strategic tool. Good luck trying to make this happen. The CEO has his reasons for deciding to operate the company this way. Commitment at this level spells whether a measure succeeds or fails.
    Plenty of organizational initiatives fail with a CEO’s full commitment, and none can succeed without it.
    As for your paragraph about SS careers, Adam Smith’s 230 year old “The Wealth of Nations” touched on it’s most quoted concept called the invisible hand. The invisible hand was the idea of self-interest. People working in their own self-interest make more contributions to society in general, and as a whole the process renew’s itself. So in this case, your paragraph #2 is nothing but opinion. SS careers benefit people and the company. These benefits help create more benefits.  
    Harry, in the first book used a ‘suggested rule of thumb’ of 1 BB per 100 employees in industrial, 1 BB per 50 employees in commercial. 
    Until the CEO can be convinced to lead the organization using whatever tools are available to a leader, this will not be the kind of organization the Yrag wants it to be. Yrag, it is your choice, but remember, strategic SS is not a “grass roots” initiative that starts from the ground up. Tactical SS is more localized, and has a more nuanced effect on an organization. Decide if you can live within the system, or if there is executive commitment at the VP level benefiting your “vision”, these people are those who can create the dynamics to help the CEO.
    And I don’t think that it’s Yrag’s duties to sell the concept to the CEO. That can be dangerous. My opinion.



    Yrag says in the first post:
    The CEO is pretty adamant about NOT having MBB/Leader types in his organization. He has had good results on a couple other initiatives like ISO by de-centralizing so he wants to do everything that way. He believes that having 20 or so people certified is enough and that those people can manage themselves to implement six sigma.

    My question is: How can i communicate the necessity to have somebody leading the implementation.
    In second post: CEO is fabulous!.
    Situation: CEO wants the 20 or so people (looks like BBs) to manage themselves. He does not want to add any more “layers” and create positions like MBB, etc. But Yrag thinks it is the way to go.  The answer seems obvious. If the CEO is a fabulous guy and the place is ripe for Six Sigma implementation, JUST DO IT. The 20 or so people should manage themselves, may be elect somebody a MBB/Leader, meet regularly, invite the CEO to the meetings (he is free to attend if he wants to, get donuts or whatever he likes), ask for a formal meeting with the CEO each quarter, update him on progress, get his feedback, etc. If the CEO finds it worthwhile to attend the monthly meeting, he has, believe me, become Leader or The Champion!
    The CEO may not have any formal BB or MBB or Six Sigma training but he is no dummy and he has actually shown a lot of support by having 20 or so people with formal Six Sigma training in his organization.  Assuming it is 1%, this means about 2000 people in the company.  This spells a small company to me. That’s a lot of committment. So, please MAKE IT HAPPEN!
    I am just Johnny come lately, but that is how I would do it.


    Manjanath Nayak

    Yes the second post : having 20 people certified and managing the Six Sigma Deployment their own .. is good idea.
    We need to have the follwonf questions answered for this idae:

    Are all these are functional people ?
    The excecutor of GB/BB will have frequent meeting?
    Who will review the progress ?
    In case of any operational /financial obstacles who will remove those?



    Dear Manjanath Nayak:
    From what I know, Ford started its Six Sigma programs in 1999.  This is a huge company with more than 300,000 employees.  Even Jac Nasser went through BB training. This company looks much smaller. The CEO is not ready to add any more MBB/Leaders or go through this type of training himself.  But, that’s OK.  It’s his choice. The financial/resources issues will be resolved once the 20 or so become a self-managing team and attempt to involve the CEO.  I’m sure he will oblige.  He has more at stake than Yrag seems to think, at the moment, from his post. Start picking the low hanging fruits first and see how the CEO reacts.
    Just Johnnycomelately.


    Experienced Developer

    I have not read all of these posts, so please forgive me if I am repeating a response that has already been offered.Yrag28, Congratulations on your new job. I’m sure that both you and your new employer are a fine match and you will prosper together.From your tone and words, I am assuming that you are at least 2 levels below your CEO and ambitious. Maybe even a little new to this level of responsibility. The culture seems open to you and you feel comfortable expressing yourself freely to your coworkers. They politely look at you while you are speaking with them. They share ideas with you. You have great ideas and really want to share them. Maybe even provide a little education.Just a little friendly advice before you draw some early attention to yourself. Unless you are responding to an assignment or, figuratively speaking, you are the first to see a hole in the roof and it is raining, why not step back a bit.Maybe you might consider learning what they do, how they do it and why they do that way prior to trying to fix it? It might not be broken. Or maybe it is, but the source is no place close to you and your responsibilities. Some people might even consider you suggestions at this time to be offensive and insulting. Give it time. Let everybody get to know you first. Don’t hesitate to put out a real fire if you encounter one. Make a couple of close friends and get to know the company through them.They undoubtedly will soon recognize your good ldeas once they understand that you respect their systems and methods. Best wishes,Experienced Developer


    John J. McDonough

    Is it possible that you simply have a wise CEO?
    You indicate that you have a total of 20 or so belts, so maybe 3 or 4 Black Belts?  Is that really enough to keep an MBB employed?  With so few belts do you really need a structure of champions?
    You have indicated that you have a lot of respect for your CEO as a leader.  In real organizations, the true leadership doesn’t always follow the organizational structure.  Sure, in some organizations, the leaders get moved into the structure, but usually the real leadership comes from those who grow the respect of their peers.
    Is there an obvious leader among those belts?  Is there someone the others look up to, who takes time to mentor them and help them build their skills?  Perhaps the CEO is expecting someone (maybe even you) to step up and show his cards.
    If there is an informal structure that is working, why break it by attempting to guess how it ought to look?



    Dear Friend,
    Plz visit
    SuryanOmnex India



    I think it’s more important to prove results and benefits than to fight for leadership. The aim of the concept is to assist and achieve gains. Let the individual GB’s focus on pain areas and religiously perform … to make the difference.
    You being new and organization being small, do not allow deligation of  responsibility to individual leaderships.. that would invite greater resistance from traditional practitioners, and might create an environment for dirty politics.
    So focus on the benefits that you can achieve for the organization and identify serious problem areas… that would make the difference…



    Hi six sigma is common sense but in a structured way, doesnt really matter if ur CEO is clueless abt six sigma as long as he has common sense and the tenacity to make the right decisions.



    Why could an organization need a Master Black Belt? Obviously, to coach and train BBs and other belts and in addition to lead top priority projects. He/She has also a role to remove barriers and maintain collaboration of executive and project type works.
    Deployment Champions should act differently, i.e. must champion the deployment. It means recognizing the organizational gaps, need for project execution resources and support the buying in the methodology.
    In spite that many managers consider SS as a tactical initiative, it must not be something like favour of the month. Nonetheless they have the fear of loosing the control and the need for their excellent firefighting skills. – More recently you may read the article about the mother of a fireman who made several fire in her town as she were afraid of her son’s loosing the job. That is somehow same situation.
    One more point is the synergy of different intiatives. ISO, TQM, Lean, 5S, Operational Excellence, SS etc. should support the company strategy (and tactical initiatives) in synergy. Are they well structured and not in competition? If not, resources are shared and the focus can be difficult to adjust. In such a situation you probably need a full time manager to cope with the issues. It could be MBB, DC, OE manager for multiproject managing job, or so.
    I hope this is a contribution


    Hi yrag28
    You are new to the company, so you haven’t established a few home runs yet, to get noticed.  With your past 6-S background, facilitate a few good team, and hit a few high impact successes, then you add a ton of creditability for when you speak to the CEO, about how to further improve the business.
    I tried to sell 6-S at my organization.  Armed with 2 university coop students we facilitated and lead improvement teams who delivered cost impacts of $12M over 4 years, all prior to a formal 6-S program.  Then we trained a wave of BB’s.  Was this the vision I had for our program … no, but it did eventually bear fruit.  Just had to take a different path to get noticed.  Along the way, I also made Director of Quality, primarily due to the above, thereby widening my circle of influence.
    yrag28, you sound like you are very results oriented, so pick up some low hanging fruit with cost impacts validated by the finance dept.  Over time, your strategic ideas will be welcomed and embrased.  Good luck with your journey.
    Thanks Harry S


    Small Company MBB

    From the perspective of a MBB in a small organization deploying 6sigma, your organization needs 1 (or at most 2) *MBB* but it doesn’t need a formalized “Champion” inside a 6sigma organization.
    Answer these questions for the CEO…
    What would an MBB do for your organization? (previous posts have given the beginnings of the answer)
    Are the 20 BB’s *really* using 6sigma full time (i.e., full time on projects)?
    Answer those two questions to yours and the CEO’s satisfaction and I beleive you will find common ground on which to move forward.


    M. Green

    There are always more than one way to introduce Six Sigma into an organization, however, the most effective way is the right way.  For starters, I would initiate a Quality Reassessment process.  This means taking a look at your current systems and methodologies and their impact on the bottom-line (business case), as well as conducting a Benchmarking study that demonstrates the success other companies are experiencing as a result of implementing the Six Sigma methodology. 
    I would suggest discussing your desire with others who are in a leadership position and more open to your proposal.  When talking with these leaders, have a convincing business case on why it is in the best interests of the company. 
    So, get a sponsor on board (leadership level), and get a team willing to work through the  reassessment process.  The key to your success in convincing your CEO on the merits of Six Sigma,  will depend on the data derived from your benchmarking study.  So, use your GB skills, identify a Sponsor and team members and start your reassessment of your Quality process.   Good luck!



    Dear Yrag
    Maybe your CEO is right! He knows what’s best for the business under the circumstances.
    “He who is good with the hammer ,thinks everthing is a nail””
    Just because your oganization has certified BB/GBs does not mean you should get into Six Sigma. Six Sigma has earned a reputation of being exteremly expensive and this may be your CEO’s apprehension.
    While it may be true that your organization badly needs process improvements , it is also true there are other cost effective ways of implementing them . Also try to implement the Six Sigma program without calling it so. I specialize in this . Six Sigma has the finest improvement methodologies and tools , but with it you can also get a lot of highly unwanted hype .
    For further details , please contact me at [email protected]
    Gourishankar , ASQ Certified Quality Manager
    Principal Consultant



    If your CEO is supportive, will remove hurdles, set organisational tone for the acceptance of the Six Sigma Group and demonstrate some level of commitment to improve his SS knowledge (Maybe a one day Champions orientation), the team will gain a lot of legitimacy and empowerment.
    Some CEOs are reluctant to dsplay a lot of support for an initiative, if they are unsur that it will succeed / be accepted.
    Rope him in for reviews, and ensure that you are able to get insights into Critical strategies of your co. Use Six Sigma then to remove hurdles on our way to the companys vision.
    Ensure the CEO talks about the work thats being done and the success achieved.
    Jack Welch wore only a leather belt when he was sold on Six Sigma too.



    Suggest to conduct a Courier Simulation Exercise in your company and make the CEO as one of the participants. This will make him feel the employees learning about Process Improvement and demonstrating DMAIC methodology understanding.



    I am seeing this as more managerial and attitude issue. I personally recommand that you should change your attitude than expecting others to change. Since you are new to the organization, you may not fully understand the work culture and employees motivation level. One of the management technic is that instead of assigning one as leader for implementation, allow who is willing take responsibility to act as leader. Since you have not started your project yet, you couldn’t see the picute. By the time of implementation definetely someone will lead the team unofficially.
    Change your attitude and work as team, take more responsibility to sucessful implementation of the project.


    darshak desai

    U can try attacking one of the chronic problems thru DMAIC methodology and show the results to yr CEO without maning it six Sigma. Then see the reaction. If positive, yr way is clear.



    Congratulations. You lucked out. You work for a company that has a great CEO;count your blessings.
    A few themes,( that I happen to agree with, and appear several times in the thread) warrant closer inspection:
    -don’t rock the boat-step lightly
    -find out for yourself (if you haven’t already) what rate of success they are having with their customers.
    -Have any quality assessments been done at the company prior to your arrival ? If so, read them. Speak with the author and/or team members that authored the quality report. This will give you a greater understanding of how well they are serving the customer.
    Because of the limited amount of information in your post, I can’t offer more specifics. But, if you offer some data, I’ll reply (as I know others will too).  Things that would be helpful:
    transactional or production environment?  how many employees? best guess at current sigma level? approximately how many competitors and what % of them have a SS program currently? Has the company had sponsored quality programs (at CEO level) before and if so what discipline was engaged?
    all the best,

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