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The unconscious dimension of 6-sigma (positive?)

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  • #31745

    Franck
    Participant

    A study with AT&T and ASQ conducted in 1986 came to the conclusion that using the words “total quality control” or “perfection” or “zero defects” should never be used in the context of quality. They trigger very negative emotions among American employees. You have to talk to Americans in a very American way, after all Americans are not Japanese; that’s why we cannot just simply apply their methods.I would be very interested in finding out the unconscious (american) dimension associated with 6-sigma. When you pronounce these words…what kind of emotion/response do they trigger with your employees?Details of the original study cited here can be found in the book by Marylin Zuckermann, “The stuff Americans are made of.”

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    #84022

    Jay Dee
    Participant

    Americans understand the words, “total quality control, perfection, and zero defects”.  They understand the concepts these words project and they know that nothing is ever “Perfect”.
    I recently was invited to observe another organization’s training session for their first level supervisors.  After two days of exercises, talk about visions and goals, and committment, and improvement, etc., at the wrap up discussion there were a lot of blank looks on the faces.  Finally, one person asked, “What’s a sigma?”.  Then another asked, “Why do I need six sigmas?  What happens if I only have four or five?  What happens if I get seven?”  None of those questions had even occurred to the trainers.
    My response to their response was, “This has been a complete waste of time.”  They never got past the opening pitch about process owners, improvement and committment, etc. 
    In my opinion, American workers begin to respond when they can operate with words and concepts they understand.  And the “What’s in it for me?” needs to be very early in the sale of the effort.  Then build on that until there is understanding and committment.
    What kind of emotion/response is triggered by any words if you don’t know what they mean?  It’s as if you’re hearing a foreign language.  Without some understanding of the words, they mean nothing.
     

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    #84023

    Franck
    Participant

    Yes! thank you for your message. What you witnessed is a negative emotion. For your information, you might not always be aware that you are reacting negatively, but your actions, demotivation etc will indicate a negative response. perfection etc are what we call “cortex” arguments, and as you rightly pointed out, people don’t really care about them, they want the “what’s in it for me”, the emotions.
    Americans DO things, they like the action. Do they want to reach perfection? never, cos after that, there’s nothing else to do, and Americans always want to do things.
    I would say 6-sigma falls in the same cortex category.
    Read the ASQ report/tape called “the stuff Americans are made of”. It’s all about quality and cultural approaches.
    Our study exposed very very different attitudes and responses to quality between Americans, French, Germans and Japanese.
    Hope this helped and thanks again for your reply

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    #84030

    Jamie
    Participant

    This is interesting, I’ve tended to find myself using the words “continuous improvement” implace of many of the quality type objective words you are presenting. I’ve not known why I did this, but it does seem to reflect the American culture better.
    I ask why is “continuous improvement” important…. its because if we don’t jump on this opportunity to improve then competitor down the street will (and probably is). When put in the context of a competition for business it seems that American’s can easily buy into this. Its in our nature to compete.
    When discussing perfection, the response I see most is “what’s that going to cost… whatever it is I can tell you its not worth it, no customer will pay for perfection so why try!” Striving for perfection doesn’t make sense but competing for business by improvement sure does. Or that’s been my observations.
    Jamie

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    #84034

    Ronald
    Participant

    My experience in dealing with domestic and overseas customers and suppliers is that for the Japanese and others “zero defects” and “perfection” are goals that they strive toward but do so with the understanding that its the journey of getting there that produces improvements and profit.  Most started at the bottom of the market and have worked up in the industry.
    For Americans, “zero defects” and “perfection” is the stick with which they are beaten with.  American workers are suffering from what I call the “be like your brother syndrome”.  That is where the parents say “Why can’t you be more like you brother?”  This gives them the complex in which Americans see improvements has being caughting up to others instead of meeting customers needs.  The US has fallen behind others in many sectors and now must improve to survive instead of improve to become better.
    It stuns me when talking to manufacturing employees about Quality Loss Functions when they realize the arbitary nature of specifications and the need to strive toward the customer target.
    Change usually envokes negative emotions (both Positive and Negative Resistance).  Improvements mean change. 

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    #84036

    Franck
    Participant

    You could not be more right!
    Japanese and Americans are very different. Many japanese concepts are beyond American understanding. Their concept of quality is completely different. There is however, a delay before they get to start working on their quality, as they need the “perfect picture” first. As for Americans, they start very quickly (the best American philosopher is NIKE: just do it!), then realize (unconsciously) that they may be on the road to perfection, hence the drop in motivation. Amercans need the challenge. If you tell them: “we want to reach tis goal, I know it’s impossible’…that will surely get them going ! Set your goal above the one you really want to achieve to compensate for the drop that will anyway occur. I highly recommend the book “Incredibly American”  as it explains in detail the differences between Americans and other cultures when it comes to Quality alone, based on the research work by Dr. Rapaille and ASQ, AT&T.
    Regards

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    #84039

    Cone
    Participant

    You say – Many japanese concepts are beyond American understanding,
    I guess this why Toyota can’t build good cars in the US using Americans.

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    #84040

    Franck
    Participant

    Is this true? are you talking from a quality standpoint?
    if you are interested in cars in unconscious response, go to http://www.archetypediscoveriesworldwide.com/ and go to PT cruiser…

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    #84041

    Cone
    Participant

    No, it is not true. Nor do I believe the rash generalizations you are making. Next thing you will be taking north vs south, white vs brown,…
     

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    #84042

    Franck
    Participant

    Fine, it’s OK. it’s very difficult to accept cultural realities, especially when those touch your own culture. But i’m sure you would spot realities from others culture.
    F

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    #84043

    Franck
    Participant

    The book “Incredibly American: releasing the heart of quality” explains why what I’ve written is true. No speculations without proof, just results: here’s the review someone wrote on the amazon site. (link below). I’m not promoting this book, it was written by m.Zukerman, but i believe it explains well the approach….
    Marilyn and Lew write this book from the perspective of employees at AT&T during some rough times. Incredibly American not only chronicles these difficult periods for the company, but shows how great gains were made. What makes this book different from other quality improvement sources is that it’s based on looking at the common denominator among American workers (and all Americans, in general)–the American archetype. According to this type of research, there are certain similarities among all of us brought up in this culture; ways we view the world around us based on our upbringing. And what the people at AT&T realized through conducting this research is that as Americans we need to attempt a task, ill-prepared; fail at the task, and feel ashamed and embarrassed; use this emotion, with the help of mentors and coaches, and not only try again and succeed, but often succeed beyond our wildest dreams.  Incredibly American would benefit those who are in the field of quality improvement, as well as those who manage (and want to motivate) people, as well as those who just want to understand a little better what being an “American” means on a different level.
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0873891929/qid=1048106201/sr=1-3/ref=sr_1_3/102-3303814-4977734?v=glance&s=books

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    #84044

    Cone
    Participant

    What happens at AT&T has little to do with the whole.
    I don’t make generalizations about any culture – even the French.

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    #84046

    Jay Dee
    Participant

    Back to the original post.  “When you pronounce these words (Six Sigma?) what kind of emotion/response do they trigger with your employees?”.
    First – “What’s a sigma?”
    Second – “Why do I want six of them?  Why not five or seven?”
    Without some introduction and background, that’s the response you get.  

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    #84094

    Mikel
    Member

    This is a dumb thread. To generalize on Japan or US has no relevance.
    The truth about Japan is that there are a handful of companies that have really distinguished themselve – Toyota, Honda, Sony, ….
    The rest are just as much of slouches as any you can find in the US.
    To generalize on the ATT as representing the US is just plain stupid.

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