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Is Six Sigma Dead at GE

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  • #44853

    NewBee
    Participant

    I have heard many rumors indicating that Six Sigma is on life support at GE.
    Is it true that is back peddling on Six Sigma?
    If so, how can it remain in its dna, especially given GE’s dependence on acquisitions to drive growth.
    Does this quote infer the end of six sigma? Six Sigma WAS…
    “I have little doubt that this will be as big and long-lasting for GE as Six Sigma WAS,” a senior General Electric (NYSE: GE) Latest News about General Electric executive told BusinessWeek in January. The executive, Peter McCabe, chief quality officer for GE Healthcare, was talking about the “net promoter score” (NPS), a method of measuring customer loyalty Latest News about Customer Loyalty.McCabe was prescient. Since then, GE Chief Executive Jeffrey Immelt has told shareholders that the entire company will be using NPS and that it will play a central role in his strategy to drive organic growth.

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    #144507

    GB
    Participant

    GE 6S was enforced by Neutron Jack.   Too bad he didn’t create a self-standing culture.   In the game called, “cult of personality”, Immelt is no Welch…

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    #144509

    Six Sigma Tom
    Member

    Net promoter score is a metric. Metrics are numbers that tell something about a process or an outcome from a process. Six Sigma helps understand and model the process and identify drivers and root causes that make the metric move in the desired direction. I’ve used Six Sigma in this way many times on projects designed to have an impact on NPS. It’s not “either NPS or Six Sigma,” it’s NPS and Six Sigma.

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    #144510

    NewBee
    Participant

    I know what NPS is? It’s wall street.
    How’s the Six Sigma program. I’ve been told the training has been reduced to bare bones and certifications are thing of the past.

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    #144512

    Six Sigma Tom
    Member

    From GE’s web site discussion of NPS:
    Lean Six SigmaHow do we use the responses to the NPS survey? We explore the important factors in a customer’s “willingness to recommend.” Business leaders analyze this data and design projects to address our weaknesses. Teams attack bureaucracy, delays and waste through the methodology of Lean Manufacturing. Tools from GE’s Six Sigma program address issues with quality.
    Lean Six Sigma doesn’t appear to be dead or dying at GE. To me, it looks like they know how to use it properly.

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    #144514

    NewBee
    Participant

    You’re kidding me, right Tom! You don’t believe the marketing spew on everyone’s web site, do you?
    We were talking with a BB from GE, who claimed, as do many others, that she was responsible for “finding” projects, that there was no formal toll gates or sponosors or strategic alignment. Essentially, it was a free for all.

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    #144516

    Darth
    Participant

    Cool, you based your entire argument on talking to one BB.  Heck, you need at least two data points to draw a line.  It might be a bit premature to pronounce the death of SS at GE based on what appears to be a somewhat limited sample.
    You might also find one BB at BOA who thinks SS is doing well.  That also would be too limited a sample to declare it is alive and well.  Sorry, had to take my shot…it’s in the DNA as they say.

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    #144519

    Rex
    Participant

    Newbee,
     
    I have a question for you.  Why do you pose a question to which you appear to have already formulated an answer and then shoot down those that offer their input when it opposes the answer that you are apparently looking for?
     
    Just curious…
     By the way, my friends at Aircraft Engines offer a different opinion than what you do.  But then I guess that they must be working for a different GE than what you refer to.

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    #144520

    Mikel
    Member

    Who cares what GE does?

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    #144524

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Darth,
    We have seen this so often. If you remeber back to the USA Today article when we were in the middle of the Allied Signal deployment in 95. They interviewed Larry Bossidy who was a strong supporter. To get a different perspective they interviewed a technician in a plant. Let’s see who understands the company strategy and how they are going to change the company to be better positioned for the future?
    Fast Company did the same thing recently on the Six Sigma in Japan issue. They walk into Toyota and ask “are you doing Six Sigma?” the answer is no, of course so this very intelligent reporter claims SS has no effect in Japan (this used to be a decent magazine until they became totally emphatuated with themselves and idiotic things such as creative job titles as if that improves a company). If the person would have understood SS and asked are you doing something that addresses Breakthrough they might have gotten a different answer. The other isuue is how do you extrapolate Toyota to the entire country of Japan? I have worked with NEC, Medtronics, Sumitomo HI, and Maxell Hitachi all in Japan and there are many other companies engaged that I have no personal knowledge of. Making the assumption that because a company is physically located in Japan it is world class quality is equally erroneous.
    We worked with a companies supply base that was situated in Japan because they believed that same nonsense. There were much smaller suppliers that were as backward as some of the worst US based companies.
    ‘There is no news today” doesn’t sell much and people who find a BB and extrapolate it to an entire company, particularly a large company, are driving their own agenda. Always a change management issue.
    Just my opinion.
    Regards

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    #144527

    Orang_Utan
    Participant

    A VP from a US top bank based in Japan said he believed his support department in Japan is operating at 2-3 sigma level only.Toyota is not entire Japan is a very true statement.

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    #144538

    Six Sigma Tom
    Member

    I’ve not worked directly with GE, but I’ve worked for clients who are customers of and suppliers to GE and with one CEO who is an Ex-GE Division President and a true believer in NPS and Six Sigma. Through these associations I’ve come to know many GE past and present people from the executive suite to MBBs to the BBs and GBs in the trenches. It’s a mixed bag, as is any group of human beings. But most of these folks are dedicated and well trained people who use Lean Six Sigma to improve net promoter scores. And they do it right. They know what they’re doing, have the support of their management, and they are successful over and over again. Sorry if this disappoints you, but it’s my personal experience, for whatever that’s worth to you.
    I hope you eventually find work that you enjoy.

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    #144539

    Savage
    Participant

    Stan,
    Amen.
    Matt

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    #144546

    Tony Bo
    Member

    Am assuming all who posted to this string are BBs or MBBs doing some sort of Six Sigma work at your company…..so to Stans point..who cares what GE is doing…..we just all better be doing our craft well at our respective companies…and making believers out of our leadership…..or else we’ll all be out of a job….!!

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    #144547

    Darth
    Participant

    Since GE was, at one time, the undisputed poster child for SS, it might behoove all of us to understand what has happened, if anything, so that we might avoid it at our respective organizations.  If there has been a shift away from SS I would be interested in why.  Is it just a natural part of the evolutionary process of SS in an organization?  Is it due to a shift in leadership support?  If nothing has happened, the discussion is moot.  But, if there has been a dramatic shift, understanding why might provide clues to prevent it from happening in our organizations.

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    #144548

    jimed
    Participant

    If there is any doubt that six sigma is fading at GE, check out Harvard Business Review, June 2006, pp60-70.  Jeff Immelt refers to the continued importance of six sigma.  He also notes the use of the metric, Net promoter score, referred to earlier in this chain.

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    #144549

    Tony Bo
    Member

    Great Point Darth..
    I did work at GE in a previous life….and still have some contacts there.  I have heard it is a combo of leadership support (Welch to Immelt)…Immelt not pushing it as hard as Welch…and a move to Lean SS…..  But very good point…..it would be helpful to use GE as a case study in the evolution of Six Sigma, to avoid any pitfalls, etc…in our own businesses…!! 

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    #144550

    Markert
    Participant

    Get a hold of Harvard Business Review, June 2006, an interview with Jeff Immelt by Thomas Stewart to see that Six Sigma is not dead, but as the title indicates “Growth as a Process,” Six Sigma has been integrated in the DNA as it should be, a highly effective tool to execute and obtain organic growth instead of acquisitions, which was Welch’s prefered method of growth.
    The poster children of GE, BoA, and others were Wall Street’s method of distilling very complex ideas into simple bullet points so every moron could understand them.
    Good to see ya still helping to keep the cypherworld straight, o’thong wear’n space warrior from southeast Florida!!!!!!

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    #144552

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Thank you. It is a distribution just like other places. Perhaps a smaller standard deviation or a higher mean.
    Regards

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    #144555

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Phil,
    Good point. To think that SS would maintain the center ring at GE forever makes no sense when Welch was very specific in saying it will become the way we work. A quote from Tom Devane “Fish don’t talk about the water they swim in.” If SS become a way of life and problems are expected to follow some type of logical analysis it won’t always look like the sherriff doing his little tap dance in “Best Little Whore House In Texas.”
    There is also a lot of truth in Stan’s remark “Who Cares?” and the other post you just keep doing what is right for you. As long as a business has opportunity why would they stop driving improvement regardless what it is called?
    Just my opinion.
    Regards

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    #144562

    Darth
    Participant

    Phil, you must have me confused with someone else.  I am suit wear’n Amish farmer from Pennsylvania.

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    #144567

    howe
    Participant

    Six Sigma also died at Motorola when they lost $3,900,000,000 in 2001 and Chris Galvin sacked 60,000 workers and turned to outsourcing.

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    #144576

    Deming
    Participant

    Here’s what happened:
    For the most, GE never realized the financial benefits claimed. Carnell, you know this is true, after all this Gary Reiner’s big beef with six sigma. The game or conspiracy was to fabricate benefits against inflated budgets not actual expenses. The “productivity improvements” wink, wink were going to be re-allocated to “growth” areas. Yes, there were some huge successes. No doubt.
    When everyone was attempting to get certified, as basically mandated by Jack, they created a bunch of bogus projects with bogus savings. Moreover, attempted improvements were at the expense of other areas. Units were lobbing problems back and forth. There was very litte strategic management and alignment of projects, never mind strategic project selection.
    Unfortunately, MBBs were caught in the middle because they were measured on completed projects and number of certifications. Remember, GE leaders always hit their numbers, regardless of “percieved” right or wrong (remember right and wrong is situational and subject to personal interpretation.
    Toll gates went out the window. We had to get certs.
    This was the end. MBBs got promoted in nice management positions for hitting their numbers (everyone knew the numbers were gamed) but now, everyone alson knew these new leaders were willing to sacrifice some of their integrity for numbers sake. Then no one trusted each other’s numbers or integrity.
    If GE had gotten so greedy their program would have the black eye it has today.
    My learnings:
    It’s about real results, not based on some outrageous future budget, not certifications
    It’s not for everyone, so don’t bother training everyone
    Maintain integrity
    Someone needs to manage and align the portfolio of projects. Projects can’t be a free for all.
    Don’t let the program by run by over ambitous, under experienced, I can change the world by sacrificing and burning out my people, so called change agents – really change requires people’s emotions.

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    #144577

    Mikel
    Member

    Sounds like a problem with GE – not Six Sigma

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    #144579

    thandi
    Participant

    Stan is absolutely correct.  You should only look at places that claim six sigma has worked, not all the places where it has failed, like GE, Motorola, Ford, GM etc etc …

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    #144581

    Split1294
    Member

    SS is a western term. The key is continuous improvement.  Toyota does not use the term SS. They simply maintain a culture of continuous improvement. Ford used SS methods in a piece meal fasion.  Continuous improvement is not easy, hence many companies may give up to soon.  Culture is the critical aspect.  I will benchmark Toyota any day before I would consider Ford, GM, or GE. Compare Toyota’s mission statement to other company’s and therein lies the difference.
     

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    #144585

    Marlon Brando
    Participant

    You  mean  KAIZEN

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    #144586

    Marlon Brando
    Participant

    I  have  tested  this  Formula Lean-SS+Kaizen+TOC and  it  works?

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    #144590

    Mikel
    Member

    Six Sigma died at Motorola a decade earlier when a guy named Gary Tooker became CEO.

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    #144592

    Marlon Brando
    Participant

    Stan:Please  explain  why ?with  some  details.I’m  preparing  a  new  PPT in Leadership,wish  to  add  this  new  case  study.Or  you  may  guide  me  to  some  links,thanks 

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    #144595

    Marlon Brando
    Participant

    If it  is  “Dead” ,then  we  should find  out  a  new “Trend”,I  suggest a  mixture of  the  following  topics:Lean-SS,kAIZEN,TOC,Creativity and  Innovation??  

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    #144597

    Marlon Brando
    Participant

    Excellent Point  of  View

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    #144605

    melvin
    Participant

    Marlon (can I call you Marlon?)
    That was an amazing request from soooooooo many levels.    Well done, Sir.  Vonnegut railing against the age of the thinking machine could have done no better… 

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    #144608

    Sah
    Member

    sixsigma, as every product, have its own lifetime and who care of that product lifecycle management, already know it from years. when a products is in its maturity stage, it can die or changed. for this reason sixsigma is now lean-sixsigma. now the point is to see if lean and ss work really well (better) togheter.

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    #144610

    jtomac01
    Participant

    Deming,
    You are right on on this one.  From my experience at GE as a BB this is exactly what I saw & experienced.  What is interesting is over the past two years LEAN has surfaced because it does pretty much what you are saying (gets real results).  The issue GE will face with its LEAN deployment & failure is they do not understand that LEAN has a huge cultural aspect that is the opposite of GE’s model.

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    #144627

    Markert
    Participant

    Mike,
    Many of us would love to see that dance. Can you and Scot maybe shoot a couple of minutes of it and upload it on YouTube for us. Maybe a well-known Six Sigma cowboy might even agree to appear as a guest sherriff with his oversized silver belt buckles and big 10 gallon hat to improve his reputation to the anonymous Internet forum crowd.
    I’ve got an idea: Maybe Vinny would agree to uploading his dance routine, too, and MC could expand the site to include YouTube like video clips. Imagine the sponsorship deals available……
    https://www.isixsigma.com/forum/showmessage.asp?messageID=64599
    Perhaps Marlon Brando would contribute a video clip of him performing his own unique rendition of “My Way”; as it appears he’s on the verge of beginning his own little revolution to replace Six Sigma with whatever he’s cooking in that biggggggggggg stew pot of his……
    Thanks Mike, for being one of the forum’s outstanding contributors, even from 10 time zones away!

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    #144628

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Phil,
    That would be a censored video clip. I have a close friend who is Cuban (that means she loves to dance and is good at it). It only happens in a crowd so there are no random pictures any where. If you have ever seen Hitch – I make that guy look smooth.
    Good to see you back
    Regards

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    #144630

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Thank you.

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    #144631

    Darth
    Participant

    Mike, wait til I tell her you called her a “close friend”.  You will be sleeping on the couch again.
     

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    #144632

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Darth,
    I thought about that about one nano second after I hit the send button. Next time I am in Little Havana I may never come out again.
    Regards

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    #144637

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Deming,
    Next time you post something like “Carnell, you know this is true…..” you might want to check with Carnell. Not only that Carnell doesn’t know it is true. Carnell never had any reson to suspect it. Carnell doesn’t believe it and Carnell will tell you why (this may be a long one Stevo but remember Deming started it). There is about 300 people right at the top of GE (at least there was – it may be more or less at this point). If what you said is true then it would take all 300 to get this done. It also involved the Leadership Teams of all the sectors and there were 12 of those. Now we have a pretty big number. The accounting people were involved in the savings calculations so we need their cooperation – number is getting bigger – we should be over 1,000. Most of these people have a Administrative Assistant of some sort and they see everything so they need to be involved i.e Clinton and Linda Tripp. Maybe you can line these people up but sooner or later Linda picks up the phone – her 15 minutes. There was also this group of GE Auditors that ran around pretty much at will chartered to look at anything they seemed to think was interesting – young, hungrey, looking to make a name, eat raw meat – if they would have gotten a wiff there would have been a feeding frenzy. One of them would have figured out it was Leonardo in that miniscule picture not some woman with a odd smile (still can’t believe I waited in line that long to see a 5X7 – and it turns out to be a guy).
    You take all those and then add the BB’s and GB’s and Champions because if nothing else GE has a bunch or seriously smart people. None of them figured it out?
    Since the numbers from SS were frequently quoted in the Annual Report there may even have been a couple external auditors that poked that number a little (after Enron that may or may not mean much).
    That degree of involvement is probably understated. But you multiply that by the turnover rate at GE for the last 10 years and that is a s__t load of people (no MSA on that number). Just a guess but there may even have been a couple of those people left on bad terms. Now with all those people there wasn’t a single W. Mark Felt any where in the crowd? I don’t think there is a grassy knoll big enough to hold all those people and still believe that LHO worked alone.
    Just my opinion.
    Good luck
    PS: when we do a deployment we will help set up a system to calculate benefits but we never get involved in benefits. It is not a good governance practice. Typically SS reports to one place and the benefits calculations report somewhere else.

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    #144643

    Mikel
    Member

    This may be the dumbest post I’ve ever seen.
    You say “What is interesting is over the past two years LEAN has surfaced because it does pretty much what you are saying (gets real results).” but  then say its failing at GE. How do you know it gets results and is in fact the reason Lean has surfaced if it is failing?
    Dumb – Deming must be proud of getting your support.
    Look at Mike Carnell’s response – he knows more of the GE leadership than anyone else on here.

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    #144648

    jtomac01
    Participant

    From my view as a BB & then LEAN Leader for GE, GE has caught the LEAN bug because aspiring Managers and GM’s see it as the only way to prove realistic results in a short period of time.  Very hard to argue with a Finance person when you have actually re-arranged the flow, quantified & proven it takes less time and money then the previous way.  One of the reasons LEAN will eventually FAIL at GE is because all the aspiring Managers & GM’s have a short term metric focus (irregardless of what Immelt & Officers are broadcasting), as you know metrics drive behaviour and in all of the Fortune 100 companies none compare to GE.  Another reason LEAN will Fail at GE is due to the lack of emphasizing the cultural aspect, which for anyone who has rolled out the Toyota Production System realizes, this is the backbone of LEAN.
    I do not know Mike, he probably does know more of the GE Leadership.  For what it is worth, the exec’s would boast about the number of certified MBB’s & BB’s that are in key positions.  Issue was most of them were given the “check mark” so it would look better on their EMS, most of them I have dealt with had no idea or interest in Six Sigma.
    As for dumbest posts ever seen, I am positive if you scan through the rest of the iSixSigma Forum, you will find some that top it, if not your MSA may be off.

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    #144649

    Joe BB
    Participant

    Some people just can never change!

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    #144651

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    jtomac01,
    I don’t want to overstate who I know in the GE leadership team particularly now. We worked for Gary Reiner and I have a huge amount of respect for him. When you are the CIO of GE when you are in your early 40’s you are definately operating at a different level than most. It was a very intense year at at no time did Gary ever fail to support us. What more can you ask? 
    With Jack Welch leaving there has been a lot of turnover at the top so the current guys I have no clue about. That said in the original deployment the GE leadership team was extrordinary in the mid 90’s.
    Because GE doesn’t implement an exact copy of TPS doesn’t make them wrong. There was no D in DMAIC before we did GE. Check the literature for 1995 at Allied – MAIC. The company is intelligent enough to understand that they are not Toyota and what they do will fit who they are, That makes a lot more sense than trying to copy GE on SS without the GE culture.
    As far as Stan. He can be abrassive, caustic, helpful, informative, etc. but in over 20 years I have never known him to be dumb. I would reread the post there is probably something in there for you.
    Actually the dumbest post was years ago when the guy asked for the formula for standard deviation. There is something tough to find. There have been some monumentally stupid post trying to explain SS as well.
    Just my opinion.
    Good luck

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    #144652

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    No he doesn’t.

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    #144663

    Mikel
    Member

    You are right about the dumbest posts – I forgot about JoeBB, but I see he is back.
    Why would you want to work for a company you have such a low regard for?

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    #144664

    Mikel
    Member

    People don’t change who are not trying to change.
    Do you think I have a compelling reason to change?

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    #144667

    Tony Mac
    Member

    OK – if we are going to pick on the General, we owe it to this forum to discuss other failed deployments.  I’ll put the BOA ball on the tee, who wants to hit it?

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    #144669

    Darth
    Participant

    Be still my heart.  Let’s start with this….a friend at BOA left me a recent voice mail and this is one of his comments sort of paraphrased…”When Milton left Q&P he left a field fertile for the growth of incompetence and things are finally rooting.”  The culture is still ignoring incompetence and protecting the lifers who have set SS back years.  Again, not the fault of SS but of the execution and the lack of commitment and involvement to make it successful.

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    #144671

    Nats
    Participant

    Who cares what is happening at BOA?

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    #144672

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Tony Mac,
    Other failed deployments? First the only thing we have that says GE was a failure is a couple posts. Nobody has produced the dress for DNA Testing or some some tapes with places that were strtegically erased.
    This is pretty reckless for a bunch of experienced Six Sigma practitioners. We are back to the Bossidy/technician interviews of USA Today (still better than that dribble Fast Company printed).
    Just my opinion.
    Good luck

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    #144707

    jtomac01
    Participant

    Let me clarify a few things, 1) I have recently left the General (voluntarily) for Healthcare (now that is a stiff necked crowd) 2) Part of my pessimism (negativity) and frustration is I see a company that can really be an even Better Company than what it is now.  From what I have seen may eventually flush it all down the toilet because of the metrics that drive the (at times irrational) behaviour of the leaders.  On the flip side of the coin, this behaviour may be the very thing keeping the General together.  I do very much respect the workers on the floor, a few of the leaders and executives, and especially the processes the SS methodology has given the company. 
    Guess I am just a half empty type of person who never likes to settle for the status quo.  My 2-bits!

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    #144728

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    It doesn’t matter if the glassis half empty or half full. The pragmatist knows it will still need to be washed.
    Good luck

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    #150159

    k
    Participant

    Lot of debate here but bottomline is :
    GE has moved on with quality intervention culture by building further from Six sigma to Lean Six sigma and NPS. Its all complimentory and not at the cost of one another.
     
    GE realised that only six sigma certification is driving wrong behaviour and also you do not need to use a AK 47 to kill a mosquito. Hence Lean can simplify and reduce turnaround time in most cases. If there is a need to do a lot of analysis, Six sigma will still be used.
     
    NPS as rightly pointed out by many, is a metric of customer response. Research says Willingness to reccommend is the real metric from a customer. Hence all Lean , Six sigma intervention should be focussed on customer side.

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