Voice of the Executive

Six Sigma – iSixSigma Forums Old Forums General Voice of the Executive

Viewing 8 posts - 1 through 8 (of 8 total)
  • Author
  • #36132


    I am on a DFSS project and new (6 months) to Six Sigma.  We have been discussing VOC and a teammate continually brings up a competing CTQ quoting what he call (VOE)Voice of the Executive. In all the training and searching the Forums here, I have been unable to find VOE.  While I understand his point is he really following the DFSS methodology by throwing in this proverbial monkey wrench?



    Technically speaking there is no VOE. Practically speaking, you always see cases where an executive thinks that he knows/understands the customer so he tells you “how it should be”. It often is NOT a good idea since you end up designing based on one sample size (one opinion) and there is a good chance that it does not represent the true customer.



    Mike, I would not be quite so quick to rule out the input of those in an executive position who should best know the business, intricacies of the market segment, existing and probable contractual obligations, competitive intelligence analysis, and hear first hand the ongoing voice of the customer – as presented by the senior level contract signing element of the customer.   While I realize that many in the forum are approaching Six Sigma from the perspective of the practitioner there is also the perspective of the management team responsible for the approval and initiation of the Six Sigma program – which should be heard.  Not speaking of the deployment manager, which I see as a more technical and program management function, but more of the fellow in the corner office who stepped up and said about Six Sigma “let’s do it” and fought to get it approved.   Now, if you are talking about effectively preventing and resisting the problems associated with uninformed managerial meddling with ongoing Six Sigma projects, that is an interesting conundrum which requires an open ear, strong will, and tactful yet direct input from the BB/MBB – explain it clearly, put it in perspective and stand your ground.   Think team.   Like it or not, you are part of the executive’s team – but that does not mean that you can’t manage your boss and your boss’s expectations just as you manage the technical elements of your project, that’s part of being an effective BB/MBB.  



    Being a realist and not a student of the game, here is my opinion – most likely the exec is a major stakeholder and can de-rail your project.  Get the voice, package it any way you want, then manage to it.  Don’t risk success just because it’s not ideal.


    Zack Guthrie

    Sounds like your teammate (that brings up VOE) isn’t one whom I’d go to for advice.  Sounds like this guy/gal is more concerned about protecting status quo than imlementing DFSS. 
    Why would management introduce (or allow your involvement) DFSS if they didn’t want you to follow this methodology???
    Most top execs are attempting to change status quo and they seek new enablers (people/tools) to get this done … not someone to regurgitate back to them perceived management expectations.
    I’m (obviously) not suggesting you stray from the scope/expectations that have been set from management, but the VOC encourages distinctly different metrics than otherwise would be set – the reason VOC is valuable is that important metrics get lost in all of the business noise if it’s not a consideration; VOC is a good path to follow.
    I would also take small issue with Rudolf’s comments about execs “should best know the business, intricacies of the market segment, existing and probable contractual obligations, competitive intelligence analysis, and hear first hand the ongoing voice of the customer … the management team … which should be heard.” 
    Several points: they get most of this information from teams like yours !!!  Secondly, his comments have little involvement with the ‘DV’ in DMADV.  Lastly, let the DATA distinguish between perceived and factual !
    If your exec is worth his/her salt, they will see the value of the VOC and why it’s a critical element in SS.  That is, you’ll likely come up with conclusions that support other leadership inputs.
    Get good data, do your homework, follow the methodology and provide the execs with valuable information that they wouldn’t otherwise have without your team.
    Don’t worry … they’ll have plenty of chances to give you their (valuable) input!
    Zack Guthrie
    Did Dilbert come up with VOE?


    John J. McDonough

    There have been some interesting points made here.  There may not exist a problem where the answer is black and white!
    There are, and probably always will be, executives who see Six Sigma as a threat to their empire.  Let’s face it, Six Sigma is all about making data based decisions.  This means that there is an exec somewhere who will no longer be able to make arbitrary decisions.  This will be an assault on his ego.
    On the other hand, the exec has a different perspective, and likely different data.  Indeed, he may well be recognizing that there is a dimension that the team is overlooking.  It would be foolish not to take advantage of any insights that are available.
    However, as has been pointed out, there will be team members who want to use some nameless exec’s supposed opinion as a barrier to change.  Step one has to be to go get the data from the source.  Of course, once having gotten the data, you are now exposed and should you decide that the exec wasn’t being helpful, you are faced with the challenge of dealing with that.  Not easy, but that’s why Black Belts make the big bucks.
    Still, don’t understimate the folks in your management.  Let me relate a personal anecdote …
    Years ago I got into a very public battle with an exec many, many levels above me.  This guy had a reputation for being especially nasty.  In fact, a year earlier I had declined a promotion into his department largely on his reputation. However, he wasn’t directly in my chain of command as it were.  I was a young engineer, and was pretty frightened of crossing this guy.  I tried to take the discussion out of the public forum in the hopes of making it a little less nasty, but I couldn’t do it.
    To do things his way would have been devastating for my plant, so I really couldn’t back down.  But for every argument he made, I would counter with data.  I was almost unhappy that I won that particular issue, because I figured that was the end of my career.
    Wrong.  This guy became my biggest cheerleader.  He appreciated the fact that I spoke from the data, rather than trying to make it personal.  At the end of the day, he knew we had come to the right decision.
    So like we always tell the Black Belts … “FOLLOW THE DATA”.
    But get all the data you can.



    Good post John J. McDonough.   Thanks for your thoughts on the subject.   Balanced and on target – as usual.



    Hi Newbee!
    VOE exists but not in the Dilbertian “voice of the executive” sense.  Voice of the Employee is the third in a trilogy of voices (+ VOCustomer and VOBusiness) critical to Six Sigma.  It attempts to bring to the conscience of executives the most under appreciated organizational resource:  its people.  VOE is a reminder of the critical value of employees in any cultural change process, e.g., rapid process improvement.
    VOE provides the opportunity of measuring the pulse of an organization’s human resources through a variety of metrics:  turnover, absenteeism, grievances, training, surveys.  The human resources of an organization are unfortunately so rarely mentioned in annual reports to stockholders and among executives in quarterly business reviews.
    Your colleague may be thinking of the Voice of the Business when he mistakenly created the Voice of the Executive.  VOB is a genuine concern as well as VOC and VOE.
    There is a dearth of writing on VOE but it is mentioned here and there.  A Google search should help you.  If you check voice of the employee be sure to put quotes around the term to reduce the results.

Viewing 8 posts - 1 through 8 (of 8 total)

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