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    I have been reading up on six sigma and lean six sigma and I am encouraged about the possibilities it presents for my factory. However, the majority of my senior management consider six sigma to be another fad – ” good in theory but we havent got the resource to mess about with six sigma”.
    Our parent company is applying pressure to reduce costs at our factory and I have just been involved in  a discussion with my senior managers regarding the potential financial benefits of improvement. Part of the discussion revolved around levels of return required to support a full time improvement engineer. I immediateley thought of some of the quotes for bb returns but felt unable to substantiate these claims.
    Please can you provide any real examples of returns from black belts and if possible express them as a percentage of turnover. I need to demonstrate the potential financial advantages before they consider six sigma as a real opportunity. The factory is a $55M business employing 500 people manufacturing a range of small metal components.
    Also any additional advise regarding engaging reluctant senior management  would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks Tim


    Mike Carnell

    You might start out with the fact that the Motorola program started in 88 (some list 86 – but I was not affected – under the name Six Sigma – untill 88). That makes it a 12 year fad.
    If as management they are pushing back that hard you might be better off to let them wait. Pushing them into something they will not support will increase the probability of failure and if it does fail it will obviously be because it was a fad and not because of anything they did or did not do.
    You need to consider a couple things right now (I am assuming you are in the US from the time ofthe post and the ignorance of your management). We have been through a decade of a strong economy which means there are a lot of management that have never seen a down economy before this one. Second this down economy is a bout 28 moths old which makes it about the longest since the Great Depression. Combine the two and you have a bunch of guys who are really scared and have no reference point on what to do. when you scare them they become risk averse. That means they don’t do things they have never done before.
    Logic would say you work on the company and get it ready for the economy to turn around but in general that isn’t happening. For the most part they are frozen in the headlights. Their actions really imply they don’t believe it will end – which is illogical.
    AS far as case studies – there a a lot on this website. Just do a search.
    Good luck.



    Dear Tim ,
    The same is in my company in India . i felt u were writing for me .
    One advise , send these senior magagers to six sigma programme ?
    I join u in looking for advise from other friends of this forum.



    One word…  Money.   As our VP put it way back when we started SS…  if you think it’s about anything else – you’re wrong – Money.    We have won many a convert in management by documenting & sharing the substantial savings associated with actual project/process improvements.   After 2 years, we still have a long way to go on the Corporate side but our manufacturing sites support it pretty well.   We’ve downsized recently and that’s caused some issues, there’s a great deal of pressure to reduce costs as well – we occasionally use the very blunt phrase – Money Talks, #$ Walks…  “Fad” programs are not substantiated with $’s like SS.  Our average project savings in a SS program only moderately supported still hovers around $250K/per.    There are definite negatives tying the program so closely to hard $ savings but in my firm’s case – it was the only way to get management support. 


    Mike Carnell

    I agree with you the language of management is money. Part of the current problem is that they are to scared to respond to anything.
    When they are receptive it needs to be communicated in terms of ROI which is the basic decision making criteria.
    If they are not listening it doesn’t matter what you say.
    Good luck



    Lean Sigma is the merger of two great philosophies.. It is the latest round of ntegration in the continuous improvement toolkit. Previously we had IE’s attempting the improve process the way they learned it in school (Taylorism). Today we integrate six sigma tools with lean tools and whilethere is great debate about which to do 1st Lean wins out, but must be quickly followed with six sigma variation reduction tools.
    Lean projects in an industrial setting can easily roll up millions in saving within several months after implementation. Six sigma project should always roll-up saving in the 100’s of thousands of dollars within six months to a year after implementation.
    Based on your description of the factory I’d would lean out the facility then the variation issues will bubble to the surface.
    It does not take dedicated resources to effect change. In most industries they start with dedicated resources then rollback until Lean Sigma is a way of life.
    Need anything further e-mail me your number and we can talk.


    Pat Kiefer

    I would recommend you read two books. “Who Moved My Cheese” by Spenscer Johnson and ” The Power of Six Sigma” by Subir Chowdhury.  Then approch one of your senior managers that you think would most likely open to the idea.  Have them read these books beginning with “Who Moved My Cheese”. Both are easy reading and can be read in half a day.  The first really brings home the need for change but first having to over come the resistance.  The second clearly explains the Six Sigma structure and how is works and it’s benefits.
    All of this is leading up to having someone in the management ranks help educate the management team so you can move forward.

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