Six Sigma Deployment

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    Our organization is sending 5 of us through Green Belt training in the very near future. My concern is that no one (including management) has attended Executive, Champion, Process Owner, Black or Green Belt training. What are the chances for successful SS deployment without some level of knowledge on management’s part to understand what’s required to create the infrastructure and culture evolution to support the SS initiative?I would appreciate anyone’s thoughts on this, positive or as I suspect negative.


    Tony G

    The short answer is simple.  Either your deployment will succeed or it wont.  Chances then become 50/50.
    The long answer:  Well….that depends.. on a lot of things.
    How large is the company?
    How good are the 5 selected for GB training?
    What level of authority will you have to run projects?
    Your leadership/management obviously has some level of knowledge and comitment to Six Sigma or they would not be sending 5 of you to training.  How deep does that go?
    Is there a plan to deploy six sigma thinking, methodology and tools to the rest of the company?
    Is the company really willing to change?
    Looks like you have a big task ahead of you.  Good luck.


    Mike Carnell

    The chances of a successful deployment are pretty low. If you have read the posts by Billybob your scenario could be a little worse than his situation. Basically he is in a situation where he understands the tools and his role while management doesn’t understand or doesn’t care about theirs. As a Green Belt your jobs will be to execute tools whichis really a lot easier than executing organizational change.
    The things that will make a difference is if you are already in a high performance type of company. If the organization knows and executes change. If it is well aligned. If it is a learning type organization.
    You might try throwing a couple copies of “Aviation Week & Space Technology” September 30,2002, page 56, on their desks. It is a better than average article about companies not getting the full potential from SS.
    Good luck.



    Hello Folks,
    It not only that the mangement doesn’t understand their role, they don’t understand project selection. The tools are great to help solve problems on the job, pick the right tool for what you want or need to find out and them make your decisions on what will best solve the problem at hand.  The truth of the matter is I have seen and applied the tools during training but one project isn’t enough to really have a good working appreciation of them.
    The problem with management on the training project was they simply said to being a project (it didn’t even need to be a problem) to class.  Well, many of us picked projects that were our own pet projects and didn’t really show up as a pain to management. Doing this as a example to learn the tools it work ok I guess, but to solve a pain problem that made a difference it didn’t matter.
    Thats why I can see now why as I am closing my project I really lack support or interest by anyone, because as I told my site support person in my barriers section, that no one cared about my project but me.  Its as heebee said,,,,,I have the phantom black belt who I never seen unless I had a question I need to ask him.  Where was he just to ask how things were going every so often?
    My next fear is going to be in a couple of months the phantom black belt will show up at my desk some day and ask me what my next project is.  Then its only going to be another pet project I need to solve.  That’s why now I understand why projects have to come down from the champion, and not up from the greenbelt; that way hopefully some real pain to the company will be addressed. 
    I know its a long story but if some manager has a light turn on reading this then it serevd its purpose, and it was a good mental health thing for me just to spout off over the poor launch I took part in. 



    Hi Mike,
    Thanks for the article reference. Here’s the link for anyone that’s interested:


    Mike Carnell

    Thank you.


    Mike Carnell

    You are seeing the same thing I have watched since the Allied and GE deployments.
    Management gets inamored with themselves, lost or whatever. They wamt Bossidy and Welch results but don’t want to make the Bossidy & Welch effort. When the WSJ carries the message that X% of your bonus and any further promotions are contingent on participation in SS you don’t get these managers sitting on the sidelines with a cup of herbal tea and a remote control trying to convince their boss they are involved.
    Failed deployments don’t happen  because the formula for standard deviation doesn’t work in particular companies, industries, countries or cultures. It fails when management doesn’t understand how to implement change in their own company.
    Good luck.
    PS: I am sure you were in Texas recently. Took the cover off the scooter the other day and had a possum sleeping on the seat. The racoons are getting way to easy in their old age.



    I think its unfortunate that Six Sigma deployment is levitating towards only ‘big’ projects….
    This from the perspective of shop ‘floor’ personnel in one of many processes in a large organization which is yet only one of many organizations in a large corporation that has initiated Six Sigma deployment…
    We get a bunch of articles on how the ‘big-wigs’ (MBBs, BBs, GBs)have saved millions of dollars and have been awarded trips to hawaii, recognition dinners, and bonuses.
    Meanwhile, some of my favourite supporting (quality, manufacturing, test) engineers who have been using and teaching us some of the same methodologies to resolve the day-to-day activities on a CONTINUOUS basis for the past 20 years continue to go unnoticed….
    These guys have been cutting our costs and cycle times and developing new and better ways of doing things on a CONTINUOUS basis, all at ‘small’ steps at a time and never recognized but I’ll bet if you were to add up the past 4-6 months of improvements they have made they would add up to the one 4-6 month ‘big’ project savings that the ‘big-wigs’ are getting recognized for under cover of a Sig Sigma project…
    I believe Six Sigma deployment is appropriate at (dare I say it) ALL levels of the organization and references like ‘big’ or ‘master’ simply demean (did i spell that right?) our highly motiviated ‘supporting’ folks on the ‘floor’ who are working the ‘small’ issues and cut them off at the knees.


    James A

    Trips to Hawaii?  Recognition dinners? Bonuses?  Wow! Who are you working for??  We don’t get incentives, we just get to keep our jobs!
    But seriously, I do agree with your general sentiment that aiming only for the big savings seems wrong – I don’t believe that you can peg a SS hat on a project on the basis of value alone – although it is true that most of the time if you have a problem that is creating business ‘pain’ then there is a cost associated with it.  Creating a rule that says “We only attack projects worth over $xxxxxxxx” was probably originally done to focus attention on the big hitters (good for the shareholders) – but has now become a bit of a red herring.
    Yes, the good quality, manufacturing and test engineers do a damn good job, day in, day out resolving day to day problems – but that’s what they are paid to do at the end of the day.  If they don’t get the recognition, then I would question if a Six Sigma roll out is going to work effectively in your place.
    Six Sigma is aimed at the long standing problems that have been ‘fixed’ many times before – only to return yet again and cause trouble.  These projects are difficult – that’s why they haven’t been fixed before, and that’s why you need the Six Sigma training to fix ’em.
    No, the project doesn’t have to be big, but yes, it does have to be difficult/longstanding/of customer concern.
    The day to day fixes by the normal team efforts are all good stuff, and all help reduce costs and increase efficiency – but it’s a whole different ball game.
    If you can fix a problem easily, then just do it – don’t get a Six Sigma team going if all you need to do is get maintenance to fix a leak.  There are other, lower cost, tools to do that.
    From your comments on ‘demeaning’ (and yes, you did spell it right) of colleagues, lack of recognition, and ‘cutting off at the knees’ I would hazard a guess that your Six Sigma deployment is not going to last long as yes, you are absolutely right, Six Sigma should be a CONTINUOUS effort at ALL LEVELS. 
    From those same comments, I would guess that your colleagues have not been included in the project teams yet and hence feel somewhat aggrieved – I wouldn’t blame them.
    Keep smiling – it’s Friday and it’ll all be over soon.
    James A



    After having been the individual responsible for four  six sigma roll-outs to date I can tell you that the manner in which your company is approaching this is WRONG!.
    Six Sigma cannot be a grassroots effort. Six Sigma must be a top down initiative to change the culture of your organization. When I say Top Down I mean from the Board of Directors, throught the CEO, and on down.
    All to often a small group from one department gets a greenlight to attend training and  when they complete the training that is the last support they ever receive. Then some time later a senior official will say “Yeah we tried six sigma it wasn’t what it was cracked up to be”.
    I think it is great that you will be exposed to the basics of six sigma, and based on who does the training you may get a good introctrination of six sigma. Surprisingly there are several different schools teaching sixsigma each with there own “unique” spin.  I like to stick to the format initiated by Mikal Harry after he left Motorola “Six Sigma Academy” approach. Which was improved upon by Allied Signal.
    Learn all you can, pursue more training through ASQ or elsewhere. If your company doesn’t come around there are plenty of companies out there that will be glad to take your customer.
    Good Luck.


    S. Harris

    I had a similar problem initially.  I was part of the company’s first wave of Black Belt trainees. Two suggestions:  1)  The highest level change agent who is bringing Six Sigma into your organization, i.e. the CEO, should send a note to each of the champions and sponsors for the Green Belts announcing the company’s move into Six Sigma and asking them to read The Power of Six Sigma by Subit Chowdhury.  The note should be accompnied by a copy of the book.  Once the word gets out, everyone will be wanting to read it and will buy a copy increasing enterprise awareness (which you’ll need later when you roll out “Improve”).
    2) The Champions and Sponsors for the projects should be put through a one day seminar to familiarize them with the process and the deliverables for D,M,A,I,C.  Most helpful was the cross functional simulation they were asked to do for 2 hours in the afternoon.  It helped them understand the necessity of scoping the project to the “right” size and the importance and difficulties of proper Team selection.


    [email protected]

    You’re in a tough spot.  Especially if management it is doing the initial, and probably subjective project selection.  If management doesn’t understand their roles in project selection and ensuring you get the support you need, your ability to obtain sustainable, tangible, and optimal solutions is greatly diminished.

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