This came to me in a dream. Where are we going?

Six Sigma – iSixSigma Forums Old Forums General This came to me in a dream. Where are we going?

Viewing 18 posts - 1 through 18 (of 18 total)
  • Author
  • #36578


    I would like to get serious for a moment. I am interested in your thoughts on this subject:
    I’m beginning to think of Six Sigma as a formalized analytical and program management construct which through its unique terminology, structured stepwise approach, statistical basis and training duration is emerging into what I belive to be a management subculture unto itself.
    Senior management in many corporations is beginning to understand that identifing varience existence, cause and amelioration steps can derive significant opportunities for operational improvement and are funding the development and implementation of Six Sigma programs to that end. But, as these programs are initiated and rolled-out in the organization, is senior management abdicating prerequisite program oversight to the trained Six Sigma practitioners?
    Are Six Sigma practitioners themselves furthering this senior management detachment through the conscious encapsulation of projects into a terminology and analytical process that senior management is less familiar with, therefore making the project a closed process in which the BB and MBB are essentially determining the project steps, gates, duration and results?
    Is an appeal of the Six Sigma process the fact that it’s perceived as complex, technical, results garnered by tenfold, and an opportunity to lead projects in a manner that is not fully comprehended by many in senior management — leaving senior management to ask how’s it going, when do you expect to complete the project, how much savings do you anticipate, etc?
    Even as Six Sigma practitioners laud the contribution and importance of senior management support are you really saying fund, talk-up, and otherwise support the Six Sigma program, but get out of the way– we’ll let you know what to expect and where we need help?
    Where the concern emanates from is the parallel to the emerging and burgeoning information technology programs in the 1980’s – 1990’s. Information technology became an art, science, and management subculture unto itself and senior management, not understanding the terminology handed money to the IT teams saying in generalities, “I want a computer system capable of handling our billings process.”
    Senior management would attend systems review board meetings and hear of delays, cost overruns, scope creep, and a litany of other issues that, in effect, meant the management team was at the mercy of the IT function and frequently the lowest common denominators of the function.
    This has changed as of late with the presence of many more systems providers offering moar in the way of configurable off-the-shelf solutions and the presence of third party integrators, but the heyday of the in-house IT function as a self-contained management subculture impervious to senior management onslaughts due to lack of technical expertise on their parties for all practical purposes behind us.
    Are Six Sigma practitioners heading in the same direction?
    Is there a need to educate senior management beyond a couple of day leadership or champion training — which if not practiced and used will be forgotten?
    Should we be looking for ways to further expand the use of the Six Sigma terminology and analytical process so it not only permeates the shop floor and selected transactional activities and areas, but it becomes an accepted and recognized methodology used in acually developing annual reports, strategic marketing campaigns, acquistion and divestiture plans, and many of the other higher level corporate planning and execution processes?
    Are your CEO’s who voice active support of your Six Sigma programs asking for training in the process sufficient to allow them of their immediate support groups to gain the wherewithal needed to truly inculcate the Six Sigma analytical process into the running of the corporation?
    I say to you that if we keep Six Sigma as an encapsulated and arcane process understood by a select few and do not take steps to assure that the senior management teams in your corporations are using it themselves on a day-to-day basis, we will fall into the outsourced, vendor supplied, prepackaged conundrum that has relegated corporate information technology functions to the technical support functions that they are, for the most part, now — assuring that Six Sigma never becomes the contributing force that it has the potential of becoming.



    ummm…, click (surfing internet)… click….read….wow good article…copy……click……post new message…….paste…..that was cool



    Boy.  Just reading that, from the perspective of an unprepared recipient, it was bizarre wasn’t it?   Sorry to have floated that out – without working on it for awhile and possibly embedding medieval codification and intrigue, of course.   It could have, with work, rivaled The Rule of Four for obscure shallow drivel.   But, then again, a meaty prose cloaked in ancient iambic pentameter gating coupled with oddly placed numeric symbology would have the cryptologists amongst us possibly far too excited….      


    SY Zonkers

    My dream is a little different. 
    I get paid a percentage of the savings realized from my projects.  I move to some place tropical and spend the remainder of my days, fishing, drinking drinks with umbrellas in them and becoming a colorful local character.


    Charmed SIX

    Agree with your innovative thinking.I believe SS should go for global vision,efforts from  experts  (like you and others:Darth,stan,john,mike carnell…etc)should be concentrated to focus on integrating  SS with change management,aquisition,re-engineering concepts.This would trigger SS into  new horizons (beyond  SS) reading the future…etc
                   Kind Regards 


    Ken Feldman

    Count me out…I want the drinks with the umbrellas fantasy posted earlier.



    Seriously, you are on the right track, even when the jokes about this post’s wordiness are also valid.
    Taking the systems perspective with respect to a SS deployment does mirror other industry changes that go through an adoption curve and are highly technical.
    There’s a simple solution, though.  If senior management is TRULY commited to SS success without fully understanding what’s under Six Sigma’s hood, the systemic problems you cite above will go away when the NEXT CEO (or President, or VP, depending on the scope) takes office.  Why?  Because that person WILL be a BB or MBB who “gets it.”  The only way to shorten this timeframe is to do like Ken Freeman, CEO at Quest Diagnostics and become a BB yourself during initial deployment.
    I do agree that SS practitioners may be furthering senior management’s detachment, usually because people get the SS tools mixed up with the deliverables and thought process behind DMAIC.  The two are very different, and senior management and BB’s need a mutual understanding that Champions and senior management operate in the realm of deliverables and leave the tools portion to the experts.
    Finally, as far as using SS for corporate planning and oversight processes, I will relate Johnson’s Law:  no one, and I mean no one, likes to follow a process.  Senior management beats up operators for not following procedures when these same managers don’t follow the protocols they were involved in establishing.  Using SS at the corporate level is a no-brainer;  there’s nothing magical.  VP’s and above need the discipline to follow the processes they work within and continually strive to improve these processes just like everyone else in the company.
    Chris the MBB


    Winston Churchill

    I once said ‘The length of this document defends it well against the risk of its being read.’ Your comments are welcome.
    Freeman had a different situation than most CEO’s taking on the challenge of Quest in 1996, when it was spun off from Corning. And the zillions of acuisitions that tripled the business left a cultural void. Freeman saw a serious void, which perhaps, as I am not an insider, was filled using Six Sigma. Unify using a common language and metric.
    Will Surya Mohapatra have the same attention in this regard, as Freeman had, but perhaps different, to sustain the gains?
    Business Week a couple of months ago did a nice article on Freeman’s attention to management succession, and called him a skilled integrator. The magazine also indicated that Mohapatra has a very strong scientific background. Freeman, remarkably is only 53, and is moving on. I think that Quest is in for trouble, because Freeman seemed to be a pretty charismatic leader, and if you will, a “founder”.
    Does Mohapatra get it? We can only hope.
    There is only one way to overcome the issue as a fad, and a detached management waiting it out. Adopt a pillar of continuous improvement, and continuous learning as a major objective and work the plan.
    Motorola’s success in the mid 80’s before the “6 steps to Six Sigma” included at least a commitment of 40 hrs a year for each employee. Before they won the Baldrige. Under continuous improvement, the organization can avail itself to adopt the next round of tools, as they are developed, if they meet with the needs of the business. The people are used to learning and using the tools that run the business. It is a smart investment. Everyone, including the senior management team should be held accountable for this foundation.
    It is my opinion that management itself, is to blame for their detachment. Reaching senior levels means relying on others to handle the soft people stuff, while sometimes bringing in outsiders to handle hardware and outsorcing issues. General Electric’s success was having the supercharged vehicle, top general business managers, skilled cultural tools like Work-out and the vitality curve, and a no holds barred task master like JW. He wrote in his book that he was going to remove Jeff at one time because he missed some targets. Now that gets results. Jeff is still to early in his tenure to say, besides the recent recession. If senior managers want the issue to fail, they only need to turn it over to someone else.
    If GE continues to be the only valid case study for managements case study, we are all in trouble.
    If in fact, in the next 3-5 years, each round of “Six Sigma Interested company” CEO’s retirement does not in fact mean a strong supporter of continuous process improvement, and Six Sigma, is in the office, or reporting to the CEO, the company is truly not using strategic Six Sigma.
    Thanks for your remarks.


    Mike Carnell

    SY Z,
    I wouldn’t hold my breath (or yours) waiting for the percent of savings. We have offerd contracts like that  for the last 5-6 years. The intersting part is that there is always the jaded old verteran or the slick corporate person who always has something to say about how bogus the savings numbers are – then you offer a contract based on a percent of savings. They won’t sign – at least never have. We even had a Quality guy in Springfield Ohio running across a parking lot into the President’s office yelling “Don’t sign it.” 
    It will usually cost you the business if you embarass them like that but some times you just have to say “WTF.”
    I’m signing up for the fishing and drinks after I start my flugerbinder factory (process has to be simpler than umbrellas).
    Good luck.



    I’ll be blunt.
    The job of management is to manage. Any idiot can look at the bottom line and make profound interpretations like, “We need to increase revenue or cuts costs.” A trained monkey could cut costs by reducing headcount.
    Management is more than just making decisions, telling people what to do, and playing golf with clients. It involves decision-making, but it also requires leadership. Some specific things to look for in management:

    Ensure the right process metrics are in place. Without process metrics, senior management can’t know why their P&L isn’t good enough or what to do about it, other than “eliminate some cost structure.”
    Get an understanding of key business processes. Make sure the right tools are being used to document and communicate process knowledge.
    Follow the same policies and procedures you expect subordinate employees to (as other posters have mentioned.)
    Develop subordinates. Managing for the good of the shareholders means developing your team in case something happens to you or for when you can’t be there. That means showing them how to make good decisions and asking questions which lead them to understand their processes and apply sound methodology.
    I could go on… but suffice it to say that where we should be going is for managers to truly understand and apply some of the basics, and to pull the right knowledge from their experts when appropriate.



    Talk about shallow drivel!



    As the old SNL master thespian(?) skit goes, “No, thank you for the applause.”  Your comments are appreciated (at least a lot more than meaningless flames on an issue they don’t understand).
    Your last paragraph of the post hit the nail on the head.  Nuff said.
    As for Freeman, wasn’t saying he was perfect.  I hate charasmatic leaders, I finally know why after reading GTG.  If Quest is starting a backslide, he is the one who most had the power to prevent this by building a stronger “foundation” as you put it.
    As for GE, our current CEO is ex-GE, and he’s totally clueless when it comes to Six Sigma, even when professing he is GB certified.  I am NOT bashing GE (have a lot of respect) just pointing out that all companies have some work to do when it comes to “unify using a common language and metric.”
    Enjoyed reading your post.  I’ll stop now and increase my chances that this post will be read.



    In the honesty and full visibility that this one dimensional medium grants us, it is time for me to come clean with my mis-deed.
    The orginal post, “Where are we going” was lifted from a earlier post by the visionary Dr. 1% R-DITT Senge Mandelbrot Waldo Robert Blogger Saver (I can go on forever, but can’t remember all the names)Really Really Regular Guy La Fong. He posted Saturday two weeks ago, and completed the text as one huge paragraph:{SNORE} I simply broke down the paragraphs and copied, including mistakes and inconsistant word usage, something I am good at.
    It came to me in a dream, re-post this sage’s message, so all may experience his insight. Got a better response over the first weekend, and maybe a couple of you figured it out. I know that the author did with his inside jokes posted under the names Blogger and Saver. I think he may even be Sweettalker, (not to be confused with Streetwalker, his screen name on another adult-content web site.)
    Chris, I just re-read Collins’ “Good to Great” again. And while you were onto another aspect of what great leadership means, I have this passage that I earmarked relating to the good Doctor’s original treatise which jumped out at me at the same time I considered re-posting his message about our missed opportunities by management proposed in “Where are we going?” Your mentioning the book must be syncrony:
    “No technology, no matter how amazing — not computers, not telecommunications, not robotics, not the Internet, {not the tools of Six Sigma} — can by itself ignite a shift from good to great. No technology can make you Level 5. {linking to the highest level of LEADERSHIP} No technology can instill the discipline to confront brutal facts of reality, nor can it instill unwavering faith. {The Stockdale Paradox- Retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, and at the same time confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they may be.}No technology {or tools} can supplant the need for deep understanding of the three circles and the translation of that understanding into a simple Hedgehog Concept. No technology {or tool set} can create a culture of discipline. No technology can instill the simple inner belief that leaving unrealized potiential on the table– letting something remain good when it can become great– is a secular sin.” My addition in {brackets}.   
    Sweettalker, on another post pointed out the difficult position senior management is in when it comes to pushing for greatness. And some guys in the upper levels are just not cut out to be great leaders, and good role models. Especially when it comes to actually leading.  
    Thanks to everyone who stopped and contributed. Read, or re-read Good to Great again, one and all and Doc, I suspect you had greater interest with the orginial post, rather than my re-tread. But from your previous incomprehensible rambling from Blogger, I sense that you appreciated my creativity. 



    Blogger was originally the author of this post weeks ago, and if I read it correctly this was an inside joke relating to his surprise to seeing it ‘Joe Bidenized’ so flagrantly by me. Just a note of explanation. 


    JP Womack the lean machine

    Dr. Phil, I enjoy your contributions and did get on, admittedly, a bit of an abstract roll with “Blogger” – funning or not.  And Jackson, being apparently a well-grounded literalist looking for Six Sigma contribution (in the Six Sigma forum of all places), called me on it, justifiably so.  As the brevity aficionados say, “All’s well that ends.”  



    Do you have George Foreman’s permission to use “the lean machine”?


    the leanish machine TM

    Hummph….  I could out-burger the champ any day – eating anyway.   As the Yale “C” student said (so thoughtfully), “Bring-um on!!!”  I can’t imagine that would incite the easily incensed.        



    Ah, you must be a consultant…take original content, pass it off as your own, and dazzle your audience into apathy or meaningless conversations.  (insert rim shot here)
    Would also suggest reading the *back* of GTG…”show me the data!”  Lot of wisdom there.

Viewing 18 posts - 1 through 18 (of 18 total)

The forum ‘General’ is closed to new topics and replies.