Introducing Six Sigma

Six Sigma – iSixSigma Forums Old Forums General Introducing Six Sigma

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    I am former employee of GE and had the benefit of becoming Green-Belt certified.  I am now employeed with a small company as the Dir. of Operations and am trying to introduce the methodology of Six Sigma across all departments. 
    I have had great success on the employee level and increased profitablity very noticably, however, even with the successes I cannot seem to get the owner of the company to take the time to become involved. 
    Although, I communicate all the accomplishments to them and provide literature and other resources, they cannot seem comprehend what it really means, and how important it is for them to be speaking the same lanquage that is starting to spread throughout the employee base.
    Any thoughts on how I can motivate them, to jump on board. 


    Mike Carnell

    As an employee you had the benefit of Jack Welch and his style of driving initiatives. That is always a problem for people who benchmark GE (expecting their leadership to behave the same as Welch and thinking that all companies are aligned the way GE was) or people who have worked there. The GE culture isn’t all that common.
    You have two big issues on your hands. First you have an “owner” of the company. Guess what? They probably created all the things you see wrong. Try this: go outside and find a park to take a walk. When you run across a mother with a young baby stop her (actually fathers will react similarly) and explain to her she has an ugly baby but you know a good plastic surgeon and the child will have a much brighter future (at this point you may want to back up a couple steps or start running). Basically that is what you are proposing to an “owner.” This isn’t going to work well for very long so I would suggest you change tactics pretty quickly.
    “Although, I communicate all the accomplishments to them and provide literature and other resources, they cannot seem comprehend what it really means, and how important it is for them to be speaking the same lanquage that is starting to spread throughout the employee base.”  This isn’t working because your “owner” has a little satan looking thing from Animal House sitting on their shoulder saying “We’re different. What does she know. She is new here. She just wants to make everything like it was at GE.” If you will notice there are sister sites to this website for all these different disciplines because there are lots of little trolls sitting on peoples shoulders saying the same thing. Dr. Deming documented it in his Obstacles to improvement so it isn’t new. The thing that makes most of us alike is that believe we are different. For those of us children of the 60’s that can remember the 60’s everyone was “doin their own thing” but they all looked a lot alike.
    How you hanle it depends on you. You can do the mas macho thing and tell him to pick a number and get out of your way for the next 12 months and you produce that in benefits. You could identify some opportunites inside the company – don’t use the words Six Sigma – and explain to the owner the advantage to their company if you can impact it. Get them to support you on that and then go do something. Personally I hate this approach but an owner/entrepeneur can be a bit of an extreme personality type (not necessarily different from other owners but definately different that say a Director of Operations).
    One thing you might wish to consider. This isn’t a Six Sigma problem per say although it can be diagnosed in the same Y = f(x) formula as you would any other problem. This is a communications issue. If you are having trouble with the owner (one person) how are you going to enroll the rest of the company (lots of people)? If you enroll the owner then struggle with everyone else the owner probably won’t be to impressed. Please don’t enroll the owner then show up in a month asking why the owner isn’t beating everyone else into submission so they support it as well – that doesn’t work in the long term either.
    Just my opinion.
    Good luck



    First if you do not already know try to find out who sold the idea of implementing six sigma to the owner. Management teams of small companies often make decisions based the inputs of who they trust. If you know who introduced the idea of six sigma, talk to that person and request his help on further expansion of six sigma in the company.
    Second, while you may be attributing improved profitability to six sigma, ask yourself if the people who mattered, judge the results of your efforts the same way. If they do, you likely have a problem of the owner hearing at least 2 different stories about why profitability has increased. Learn about all the stories.
    Third, view your approach to the owner as a venture capital financing proposal. Tell them why they should be interested, how much business value, cost, ROI, etc.
    Finally, challenge your own assumptions. You would like the owner to comprehend what six sigma means so that they can use the same language. If you are able to generate large improvements in profitability without engagement from the owner, why do you need the owner to be engaged? Will the rate of increase in profitability drop if the owner does not engage? If you can successfully answer these questions to your satisfaction, I am sure you will find the owner willing to listen.
    Good luck.



    I would like piggy back on here and ask if anyone knows of a good introdution to SS presentation that would be accessible for introducing people to the concept. Even something basic that I could modify would be useful.



    I am myself a former Employee of GE, have passed the Black Belt exam while I was working with GE. Now, I am employeed with another large Indian IT organization. Our organization is CMMI Level 5 assessed, also have all other major Quality and Security certifications. I am trying to introduce Six Sigma in my organization. I have taken an apporach of Piloting with one Function and then communicating Success Stories across organization. I have following up with the Function Head for more than 3 months now, finally I could get the buy-in from Function Head to run with Pilot. I consider the pre-requisites are management buy-in, setting up Six Sigma office and 100% training of task force. The function head has agreed for training the team members who would be invovled in the 2 Pilot Projects. Lets see how it move from here.
    Suggest to train the team members and run with a Six Sigma Pilot Project. Involve the owner for all Tollgate Signoffs and regularly communicate with him on the project progress. Hopefully, he will get convinced and get invovled.
    Good luck.



    Dear Debbie,
    The problem you are facing of lukeworm  atiitude of the owner is not unusual. It requires a time & patience.
    Firstly,try to understand, through his daily talk, what he likes- product, processes or money alone.If he likes only money, then talk about only money.Relate every activity of yours only with money.Do your financial projection in the language & format he usually likes. Try to be ‘him.’
    Remember, our original scripures written in Latin are not undrerstood by even .0001% of the population.But atleast 50 % population go for Bible written in English, when they face some problem in life.Likewise, when you will start in the language which is natural to him, soon he will listen to you with proper attention.
    With all the best,
    R.M.Parkhi (from India )



    I had a similar problem several years ago in a small privately owned company, so I can empathize. First, you have to remember your baseline situation, that high performance quality initiatives like six-sigma tend to attract larger organizations more than smaller ones. There are exceptions naturally, but the statistics published in quality magazines are daunting, and probably for a reason. Doing six sigma in a small- privately owned orgs probably will be more difficult than doing it in a larger public orgs.
    Second, your problem with the owner may be touching on stakeholder and employment relationship issues. The owner is your primary customer/stakeholder, not the process CPK’s, and the owner may be expecting you to make their loving creation work according to their vision, not yours. You need to do this 80% their way, and 20% your way, at least initially until you have established your relationship with them. Finally, your unwritten employment agreement in a small company is not so much about improving things, but wearing many hats well, getting along, and making crap happen-even when it goes against your quality instincts. You can be improving things, however if the owner is concerned you are falling short on the basics, your have a first order problem with your first customer. 



    Six sigma can not succeed without it coming from the top of the organization.  I also was with GE (BB) and was with them in the very beginning of their journey to six sigma….if it hadn’t been Jack’s dictates it would have joined the thousand other programs we went through.
    The only option for you to get the uniterested top level interested is to come up with great savings because cash is always king.



    I feel like it was ages ago when we manually flowed out processes on brown paper, however I think it has a tremendous amount of power vs. using software…..  My question is:  Does anyone know where I can purchase the old peel and stick Process flow symbols? 



    Hi Debbie,
    Getting stakeholder buy-can be one of the most difficult things to do. In my opinion, more difficult than solving technological or statistical problems.
    My suggestions are:
    – Avoid Six Sigma jargon as far as possible.
    – One of the greatest hinderances is the “Not Invented Here” syndrome. A solution is to influence the stakeholders in such a way that they think they have come up with the ideas.



    You can wake up those who are really asleep
    But not those who are awake, but keeping their
    eyes closed, feigning to be asleep.You may try the following 10 rules i have used
    even within GE, where some were allergic to
    Jack/Six sigma. 1. Do not call your initiative six sigma, till
    you see results. Call it whatever other nice
    name you may find. e.g. 5×2 (5x improvements
    in 2 years or whatever).2. to show your already finished projects:
    Use only graphics to show analysis
    No p values, hypothesis tests, normality tests
    regression equations, DOE etc.3. Avoid jargon in your presentations, talks etc.

    4. Align your next project to the key pain area
    in your group. What people mostly complaint about
    or where there is lots of $ spent or where customers
    are very dissatisfied.
    5. Select Projects around Managers’s KPIs
    (Key performance Indicators) or KRAs (Key Result
    areas). 6. Everyone wants the credit once results
    are obtaiend. Give it to them. You care only
    about results, not who takes the credit
    You may have to be ‘Buddha’ for the next few
    months till people realize they need you/your
    tools to do the next project.7. Do not disclose that you are doing a project
    till you have completed priliminary improvements
    (Keep the project in backpocket till then).
    Show Before & After data to compare & contrast
    results.8. Avoid projects where data collection on Y or
    Xs are difficult9. Avoid projecs where the Xs are beyond the
    scope of your control. for e.g. part of the process
    is performed by a vendor / customer, a division
    where you have no influence etc.
    at least at start.10. Avoid projects where scope is too large
    at least at first. You may need teams to help
    you to manage the sub Ys. hope this helps.

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