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Topic The Failure of GE?

The Failure of GE?

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This topic contains 6 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Martin K. Hutchison 4 months, 2 weeks ago.

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    How are we supposed to reconcile the recent failure of GE with the successfulness of six sigma?

    I am currently reading the book Leading Six Sigma by Snee and Hoerl which talks a big talk about a six sigma organization but then I hear in the news that that same organization is getting kicked out of the Dow Jones.

    Is this a failure of leadership? Isn’t that a failure of the six sigma organization? How do we as six sigma proponents respond to this?



    look when they were focused on GE…however lots of opportunity–ever had a GE appliance?


    I’d blame it on management. I was with AlliedSignal in the days when Larry Bossidy and Jack Welch were competing to see who could get the most from six sigma when it was the new silver bullet. After acquiring Honeywell and taking their name, Bossidy retired. Welch retired about the same time. Bossidy was brought back a few years later to get the new “Honeywell” back on track then retired again but left a capable new CEO and management team, and revived vision. In the interim, GE attempted to acquire the struggling Honeywell and I was involved in transition planning. My impression was that these guys no longer get it. They’re all about internal competition for job security, a legacy of Welch’s “ranking and profiling” where each department had to promote or give raises to the highest ranked percentile of their staff and fire the lowest percentile. I can’t discuss any more than that but I think GE lost their vision and now it’s caught up with them.


    @johnelwer I have trouble believing that this is a mystery to you. The GE deployment took place in 1996. It ran with strong support while Jack Welch was there. It even ran when into Immelt’s term as CEO. Now there is Flannery and you are connecting all of this to Six Sigma? Have you every heard of the concept of cause and effect?

    Let’s do this How do we reconcile the success of the lightbulb with GE’s current situation? If you can conjure up some inane connection to Six Sigma lets do it all? Rationalize the success of the Jet engine to GE’s current situation.


    @johnelwer Read this and tell me how you are making the connection between SS and the current GE situation.


    Mike Carnell, do you know how to have an open conversation without personal attacks?

    I stand by my question. If six sigma is to be “the way things are done here” (Snee & Hoerl 2003) the question remains; is this a failure of six sigma? If six sigma cannot survive through changes in leadership it will only lead to temporary improvements just like any other “improvement fad”. How is Motorola doing these days? AlliedSignal?

    Is six sigma a way of running a company or just another set of tools anyone can use without the required strategic commitment?


    @johnelwer “Is six sigma a way of running a company or just another set of tools anyone can use without the required strategic commitment?”

    Wow. So there is a “breakthrough” in thinking that happens along the way to really understanding Continuous Improvement, and part of that is understanding that the first part is partially true and the second part is a really silly question. A company can get nothing done effectively without strategic commitment. You can implement SS in a supplier quality function w/o extensive management support (until your cost go up because you reject shady (but cheap) vendors that purchasing likes). There are other examples but sooner or later you realize that pushing a rope is pointless. Clarify (or get clarification on it) the management strategy, then maximize your role to that. The career graveyard is littered with the resumes of people who tried to care more than the executives about process and product quality and how to get there.

    And accept that in any power structure, there are people who focus 99% on climbing the ladder. And so they do. And they have little interest in someone else fostering productive change that they fear someone might have expected them to figure out.

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