Why did SuperValu/Albertsons Six Sigma Deployment FAIL?!

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    Like the title says.

    What causes deployments to fail so bad,? In this case a major retailer. Could a tough economy be the cause?

    What other reasons do deployments fail?

    How have others like GE, Motorola and IBM continue to hold on?




    Russell Demetri Ollie Sr.

    I don’t know a thing about this particular deployment but I’ve had the chance to study successful and unsuccessful deployments at several firms over the past decade. In general the way a program fails tends to be a combination of one or more of these factors:

    -Short-sighted expectations on the part of senior management – looking only for immediate cost savings and loosing interest in long-term sustained improvements
    -A Continuous Improvement program started and run by people with no background in the field (e.g., taking successful existing program managers and telling them to go start Six Sigma for the company.)
    -A Continuous Improvement program (almost always run by the people mentioned in the prior bullet) that focuses only on evangelization instead of actual execution of projects and realization of results.
    -Inability to gain traction with even a single executive Champ (saw this in an org that did a re-org every 3-4 months – people were too busy figuring out new relationships to actually execute a new program.)
    -A single instance I know of where the CEO tried to ram rod a program down the throat of the organization and lost everyone along the way (the org since retrenched and embraced Lean instead of their failed DMAIC effort.)
    -Obsolescence: I know of a couple of programs that were very successful with DMAIC for several years but never figured out things like 3rd generation DFSS for innovation. After picking all the good fruit off the tree these orgs have nearly sunsetted their DMAIC operations (disbanded the central team but still support C.I. / Process Engineering roles.)


    Russell Demetri Ollie Sr.

    I forgot one other common cause of failed programs that I’ve seen.

    -Practitioners from one well known company with a successful DMAIC program have in several instances tried to setup deployments at other companies and in EVERY case I know of they haven’t been able to adapt to a new culture and tried to recreate what they had at their prior employer. I’ve seen this at a few Fortune 500 firms now where practitioners from this company have come in and burned bridges with internal stakeholders and been run off in 18-24 months consistently.

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