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Is six-sigma losing its credibility?

Six Sigma – iSixSigma Forums Old Forums General Is six-sigma losing its credibility?

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  • #45640

    Yadav
    Participant

    Yes, this question has striked my mind a several times for last few weeks because I see a lot of messages that have negative comments about six-sigma methodology. I strongly believe that there is something wrong going on out there, which we all need to look into and these can be lessons learnt for the six-sigma practiceners, visiting this forum.
    I am looking for feedback / suggestions from the stakeholders of the six-sigma, on what they think about six-sigma and why they think so. It will be nice if you can avoid any personal attacks in anyone and be more factual, which will help the six-sigma community to critically evaluate what they have been doing and what they need to look into further on.
    Ajit

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    #149595

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Ajit,
    People are probably tired of me citing this book but you need to read it – “A Deviant’s Advantage” by Watts Wacker. It discusses how ideas move from the edge to social convention and the changes that they go through as they make that journey. Six Sigma fits his model extremely well.
    When (if) you look at Wacker’s model one of the major issues that is affecting Six Sigma is the loss of original content as it moves towards social convention. Six Sigma has been bastardized over the last decade for a lot of reasons. We have seem the content shifted to convince the transactional community it applied to them (loss of original content). We have seem a special brand of Six Sigma created for small business (when does the size of your business affect the statistical tools). The list goes on and on as it is constantly twisted to suit every special interest group or help some consultant find their niche.
    We have seen Lean Six Sigma introduced as if it were something new when the original version at Motorola involved Lean (known then as cycle time reduction). There are now a lot of Lean consultants who have added a couple stats tools and are the new LSS guru’s.
    The other issue was that when it began the focus was on business results and the current focus is on certification. A person can learn the BOK without being part of a deployment. What they do not understand is what is involved in being a part of transforming a company. This is why you see so many questions around project selection. They have never had the experience of setting a goal for a company and understanding how to identify those issue that will help that company move that direction. Even some of those people involved in a deployment have come to see it as a group of people just doing projects rather than a focused effort.
    I don’t think I would jump to the conclusion that SS is losing it’scredibility based on Forum posts over a couple weeks particularly when most of what you see are repeat posts by the same people. Every initiative has a level of detractors – it is basic Change Management. There is nothing that will happen where you see 100% of the people all turn the same direction at the exact same time and begin marching together. The last time we saw something close to that was in Europe about 60 years ago and that didn’t work out very well. As in most situations consensous is a sucks and detractors have a role as well.
    Just my opinion.
    Good luck.

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    #149640

    Zorro
    Member

    Mike:

    Some of Moto’s fabs. also used value mapping and, unlike Lean, even distinguished between value-adding, and value-enabling.
    In fact, as someone who has worked for both Moto and for a Japanese company, I can confirm there are many similarities between the original Motorola 6 sigma and what Japanese companies call TQC – they can hardly call it TPS can they :-)
    But little of this was captured in Dr. Harry’s published version of SS – hardly surpising given his background and lack of experience!

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    #149645

    Be Real
    Participant

    In my opinion, one of the problems associated with six sigma is the overuse of statistics. If an operation is operating at “so-called” lower sigma levels (1-3), you don’t need many statistical tools to get immediate relief.
    Imagine losing a limb and going to the emergency room. Yet before they see they want to check your temp, weight, draw blood, while you’re bleeding to death.The six sigma methodology has been misapplied by checksheet commandos and quant jocks who can’t deviate from their six sigma roadmap. I must do step M2… I must do an MSA… I must do …The results are what matters. However, the results must be sustainable. I haven’t seen a lean or six sigma roadmap that actually outlines teaching managers and process owners how to daily manage and actively manage their processes. A control plan doesn’t cut it.

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    #149650

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Zorro,
    Some of this stuff seems to morph itself. We used process maps in the early 80’s before we had SS (Probably called a Process Flow chart these days – no swim lanes or symbols – all I had was a template with circles so every step was circle). I used Process Maps then simply because it made a process easier for me to understand and I could accumulate information whether it was cycle time, defects, etc on one sheet of paper. We started adding the value add information in the middle 80’s when a consultant to Motorola (Bill Fecter) introduced us to “The Goal.” The great part about the 80’s was that nobody was claiming turf and/or creating names for things. We were just fixing things and making the production lines run better. Sounds like one of those “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” scenarios.
    I have consulted with several Japanese companies on Six Sigma. I met with the BOD of one company where two of the members were involved in TQC over a long period of time. They were curious if they needed SS. I promised to jump out the window of the room (20 something floors) if I couldn’t get $1,000,000 out of each one of their factories (this is like sky divers telling stories – you know how they turn out). They were happy with what they got and I learned a lot from working with them.
    What fabs did you work in?
    Regards

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    #149652

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    You bring back some of the poorer memories of Motorola. We went through a time where it was like a team focused McCarthyism. People would accuse someone of not being a team player typically without data and to some extent it always left a stain. You come in here and throw around a lot of crap but you produce nothing to substantiate your statements.
    “The results are what matters. However, the results must be sustainable. I haven’t seen a lean or six sigma roadmap that actually outlines teaching managers and process owners how to daily manage and actively manage their processes. A control plan doesn’t cut it.” Let’s be real Be Real how many deployments have you actually been involved in to a level where you can make a statement like this with any credibility?
     

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    #149653

    Be Real
    Participant

    Mike, can’t we be friends?
    In an initial deployment were consultants help organizations articulate their intended strategy, create balanced scorecards, and subsequent strategy maps/hoishin planning, things tend to go well especially with a heavy governance model.
    But lets be real, how much time is spent stablizing existing operations /systems and teaching the process owners, who frequently have no formal operations management training, especially in transactional environments, how to manage their operations with a fistful of decent process metrics. Ask your clients what are their process leading and lagging indicators and when and what actions they need to take to optimize their operations before its out of control.

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    #149655

    Fontanilla
    Participant

    First of all, I disagree with the comment that the reason it is losing credibility is due to an overuse of statistics. Statistics is a tool in the toolbox and should be used when appropriate. The key to the success of six sigma has been its ability to discern a root cause when it wasn’t evident. I would agree that if your arm has been cut off you need to stop the bleeding, but before they give me replacement blood I sure hope they do the blood tests. I might also want to avoid any lost limbs in the future. If we want to react to outliers and spend resources on noise, then simply react to outcomes. If you want to drive changes at the root cause level, react to validated root causes.
    Sorry for the digression. Six Sigma is losing its luster because the talent pool is being diluted. Just because you can spell DMAIC and have a successful project or two does not mean you are a MBB.

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    #149656

    Chris Seider
    Participant

    Be Real,
    There is material out there to help managers, process owners, along with supervisors and process participants to sustain those improvements.  I’ve personally been involved in creating this material since this is always an area to improve.  There is nothing like involvement from outsiders to initially show process owners options to manage their process to sustain their gains.  The best place to present sustaining the gains is typically in the control phase.  However, I find it common for people to need specific help at their work sites tailored to their specific situations.  It is hard to create any classroom material to address all situations. 
    I laughed about your control plan comment because we often have to remind ourselves it is a document stating what is supposed to be happening in the field.  The control plan itself does not accomplish this.  The actions described within the control plan are what sustains gains. 
    Regarding specific use of tools, I always remind myself of the MBB (frequent poster on here) who initially mentored me during my own training .  He said if someone decided a tool in the six sigma methodology was not applicable and he/she did not achieve the desired results, then the case could be made to go back and apply the tools not previously used.
    Have a good New Year.

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    #149658

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    “Ask your clients what are their process leading and lagging indicators and when and what actions they need to take to optimize their operations before its out of control.”
    Lets be real again. The best results in terms of MSA in a deployment over the last 12 years was 20% passed (80% failed). What people know about a process is typically a function of the data that is produced and it is produced from gages that overwhelmingly are communicationg bad data. The knowledge most Process Owners have of their process is a function of bad data so what they believe about Leading and lagging factors prior to most Six Sigma projects tends to be skewed at the very least.
    How often was MSA an issue before Six Sigma showed up?

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    #149659

    Sigmordial
    Member

    Be Real presents some serious questions:

    “How much time is spent stablizing existing operations /systems and teaching the process owners, who frequently have no formal operations management training, especially in transactional environments”
    By design, the Six Sigma methodology (and all associated hybrids) should address these with control plans. Unfortunately, control plans are usually the last box to check on the way to certification.  And way too often, the control plan is a populated Excel template that is alien to the process owner.
    A control plan must address some of Be Real’s points:

    how to manage their operations with a fistful of decent process metrics.

    their process leading and lagging indicators

    when and what actions they need to take to optimize their operations before its out of control.
    Failure to incorporate solutions (identified by any methodology) into management routines that the process owner can use to manage their process sets the stage for disappointment. 

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    #149667

    Mr IAM
    Participant

    This is an excellent point.  I think the largest value of SS for most companies (my experience) has been in measurement validation – consisting of tools like Gage R&R, Attribute Gage R&R, ISOplot etc… but also in simple things like Operational Definitions and MSA Drilldowns.  It is amazing the difference between what people ususally think is being measured and what the actual data is.  If Six Sigma didn’t fix anything else… (other then measurements) it would still be worth it.
    Cheers M.

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    #149668

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Nobody said they were not serious questions. Be Real would get more of a response if he/she where not trying to lay basic management inadequacies on the steps of Six Sigma. If you take away Six Sigma you can still ask the same questions and get the same answers.
    First telling someone they must have a control plan is a little prescriptive. In the absence of anything else fine but if there is a system in place that does not use Control Plans then you use what exists as long as it works.
    Setting the stage for incorporating the results of a project – regardless of type of project – and not holding a Process Owner accountable for the execution of those results is setting the company up for disappointment. Since when have Process Owners become a victim – other than this morning?
    You still can’t answer the 3 questions you propose until the conclusion of a project. If you could then you do not have a project.
    By definition it need to be the last thing a Belt does when they finish a project. That is when they understand what needs to be in it.
    If you have reached the end of a project and your process owner does not understand the process then the Belt has done a poor job of involving and communication with them throughout the project.
    “How much time is spent stablizing existing operations …?” That is why we do projects. Trying to stabilize something that is in almost every situation measured by some type of inadequate measurement system is a waste of time.
    How much time is spent training Process Owners? I can only speak for our deployments but we (passedon to the Belts) train Process Owners continuously.
    Just my opinion.

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    #149669

    Mr IAM
    Participant

    I think SS is losing credibilty because of all ( I have no idea how many) deployments (what actually defines a “deployment”?) have failed (I have no idea what “failed” is).  Because management wasn’t commited (I have no idea what “commited” is, or how to measure it).
    It never ends….
    Cheers. M.

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    #149672

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    MR Iam,
    I appreciate your honesty:
    ( I have no idea how many)
    (what actually defines a “deployment”?)
    (I have no idea what “failed” is). 
    (I have no idea what “commited” is, or how to measure it).
    I would think if you can’t answer these then it would be difficult to be convinced there had been either a success or failure.
    Back to the basic reason we do things. It is business. Business runs on ROI. Our last deployment returned about 10X for year one. If the CEO shut it down after one year it would still probably be one of the top 3 investments the company made for the year. Is that a failure? If you laid the numbers in front of any finace person and asked if it was smart investment they would say yes. If the CEO would have shut it down would it still be a success? Yes.
    There are lots of discussions about failures but they tend to be emotional discussions not data discussions. I do believe it is being deminished in the eyes of the public but not for failures at least substantiated failures. It is the typical thing that says whatever is on top gets torn down. It is what my geology professor called the Pimple Principle – next time you have a pimple, shave and see what happens.
    Just my opinion.
    Good luck

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    #149673

    Sigmordial
    Member

    No disagreement here. Be Real highlighted some serious shortcomings that I have noted in several deployments. I must add that many opportunities, especially within the transaction space, can be tied to these basic management inadequacies.
    By the way, really enjoyed your Pimple principle!

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    #149676

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Sigmordial,
    Thank you.
    This gets back to the discussions around Six Sigma as a philosophy, management system, etc. It isn’t. It is a methodology and it is only as good as the environment you give it to operate in.
    Basically ISO which is called a Quality System is simply a band aid to a Management System that never had the foresight to address quality as a Management issue. Six Sigma was never meant to be a band aid to poor management.
    Just my opinion.
    Regards

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    #149677

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    MR Iam,
    We are in complete agreement here. I have complete faith in engineers to make the best decisions they know how. If you clean up the system that supplies them data they end up being much more accurate in their decisions not necessarily because they are doing anything different they just have better information.
    Unfortunately I don’t have the same faith in managers as a whole. Most will but there seems to be more ladder climbers.
    There is another consultant out there who has always said if he could only have one tool he would take Chi Square. I never understood that. If I get only one then it is MSA.
    Just my opinion.
    Regards

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    #149678

    Ken Feldman
    Participant

    Sigmordial, which transactional deployment that you made reference to has not been successful (no need to mention a specific company)? What do you think the root cause was?  Was it the overuse of statistical tools?  Was it the lack of a Control Plan?  Was it the lack of resources or training?  What was it?

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    #149679

    Marlon Brando
    Participant

    Dear  All
    We  should not  deny  that:
    *Motorola credits the  SS Initiative for  saving about  $940 million over   3  years.
    *AlliedSignal (now  Honeywell) reported an  estimated  $1.5 billion in  saving  in  1997?
    *GE has invested  a  billion  $ with  the  return of  $1.75 in  1998 and  an  accumulated  sanings of  $2.5 billion for  1999
    Secondly  the  business successes  that  results from a  SS initiative  include:Cost reduction,Market-share  growth,Defect reduction,Culture changes,Productivity improvements,CR improvements,product & service improvements and  CT reductions. 

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    #149682

    Ken Feldman
    Participant

    I think some of the concerns others have expressed is that these quoted numbers are suspect at best. The accounting used to come up with the accumulated totals consist of counting the Type 1, 2, 3 and 4 savings. Of course, the only thing that might be close to real are the Type 1 savings. I know that one of the companies in my past reported to Wall Street a $1B savings from SS after a few years but when the finance people finally took a serious look it was closer to $250M…not chump change by any means but still a good bit less than $1B. Of course, heads started to roll after that discovery.

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    #149686

    Marlon Brando
    Participant

    Thank  You  Darth  for  the  enlightenment.
    Just  I  have  read  the  following  Formula ,which  was  introduced  as  the  most  important  Formula  in  SS:
    Q * A = E
    Q stands  for  Quality  (should  be  between  8-10?)
    A for  Acceptance? and E for  Excellence
    E should  be  60  or  above ,other-wise the  SS  Program  will fail?
    What  is  your  (valuable)  comment? Do  you  agree?
    Best  Regards   

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    #149692

    Six Sigma Shooter
    Member

    Totally agree.  In my experience, the second key element is the establishment of good standard operating procedures.  It is amazing how many projects are completed and problems solved with MSA and SOPs.  The old phrase of “garbage in = garbage out” definitely applies, here.  Those that try to shortcut MSA and SOPs (because it’s “difficult” and “takes too long”) will often wonder why designed experiments fail to confirm.  Gee, I wonder why?
     

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    #149695

    Mikel
    Member

    That’s why Six Sigma (or a similar problem solving strategy with tools, a roadmap, and projects linked to strategy) works well as part of a robust Quality System, not as a substitute for a good Quality System.
    If it were my company, I would do PF/CE/Standardized Work/MSA on all critical processes before I worried about anything more complicated. I would follow that with a FMEA that every process owner would be expected to carry with them at all times and update every time someone has data to enhance it.
    That would solve 80% of inconsistency in most companies.
    Then I would start Six Sigma linked to strategy.

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    #149699

    Six Sigma Shooter
    Member

    Amen to that, Stan.  I learned a long time ago to work the PF/CE (with constants, noise variables and experimental variables identified on the CE), and SOPs from those guys in Colorado Springs.  Since then, I have added MSA to it.  As you’ve stated, about 80% of the issues and improvements can be addressed at that level.  The KISS approach does work.

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    #149701

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Shooter,
    Stan and I worked with a guy who carried the FMEA for his factory in his shit pocket (looked very strange). Anytime anyone would discuss an issue with him he would look up the step in the process on the FMEA. If it wasn’t something that was a high RPN they would have to justify why they were working on it. If it was something worth working on then they had to update the FMEA. After 3-4 months the FMEA was probably the most useful document we had. It basically held the sum total of the process information for the current process and it also carried information on any improvements that were in progress.
    Regards

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    #149702

    Ken Feldman
    Participant

    Mike, what’s a “shit pocket”?  No wonder it looked very strange.
    Have a Happy New Year and regards to the better half.
     

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    #149711

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Darth,
    It is a very close relative of a shiRt pocket. When you take my typing that is poor on a good day and my spelling which has never been the same since Latin class the probability of actually completing a sentence without a defect is about zero.
    Once you have stored an FMEA in a shit pocket they can be much more difficult to read but less people tend to walk off with your document.
    Have a Happy, safe and prosperous New Year. Hope Mrs. Vader is speeding towards recovery.
    Regards

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    #149712

    Chris Seider
    Participant

    Stan,
    Hope you had a merry Christmas and a good next year…..
    “the grasshopper can almost walk on rice paper leaving no footprints”! with the help of MC :)

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    #149716

    M G
    Participant

    “Six Sigma has been bastardized over the last decade for a lot of reasons.”
    6s has been bastardized for one very good reason … to avoid much of the crap … improving quality by changing specs, the 1.5, the normality requirement for six sigma tables, etc
     

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