Top Tips to Revive Six Sigma
The heydays of Motorola and GE have gone by. This is no longer the time we can bake in the old stories of "Six Sigma has done this for me; Six Sigma has done that for me." The operating scenario of the 90s to what we see is different. Everyone knows that. While we only had a handful of companies embracing Six Sigma in the 90s, we see the numbers multiplying manifold today.
Some claim to have Six Sigma in their DNA unknowing that DNA stands for Deoxyribonucleic Acid!!
Humor apart, Six Sigma is in a state of decline. I make this statement because:
1. Dilution of Six Sigma Body of Knowledge training
2. Almost 90% of the training institutions worldwide don’t emphasize on project completion after training.
3. Companies viewing Six Sigma as a cash earning machine.
4. Companies thinking that they should also adopt Six Sigma only because their neighbor made millions of bucks out of it. It doesn’t matter even if the company is in the duck-catching business!
I am not here to demotivate anyone who wants to do Six Sigma. For a newbie who has heard a thing or two about this from someone, here is the disclaimer, "What you have heard is not the full story!" That’s point number 5 --- Everyone seems to have their own version of Six Sigma.
Someone says "Six Sigma can help reduce migraine" and worse still, "Six Sigma can help reduce divorce rates."
Dispassionately, I make the below recommendations to bring back Six Sigma to its glory days. To give everyone a sense of responsibility in the task, I divide the discussion henceforth into four categories:
1. Companies who want Six Sigma to be implemented
2. Training institutions who want to impart Six Sigma training
3. Trainees who want to get trained on Six Sigma approaches
4. Finally, practitioners of the Six Sigma approach (Dr. Mikel Harry included)
Six Sigma Practitioners
True, we have the knowledge and while we may have our differences of opinion on subjects, think about the fusion all of us can have when we put our brains together. A call to action – Let us come together and build a centralized accrediting body that will:
Standardize the training curricula: Until now, we don’t have a single body that standardizes the training curricula. Of course, Six Sigma can be implemented in any organization and thus, can be deemed flexible as a Body of Knowledge. But, the core concepts need to remain.
Standardize the certification requirements: It is high time a sense of sanity is brought to the certification requirements for Six Sigma.
Start awarding practitioner credits: As a forum, we should start recognizing practitioners who have been delivering to the value promised by the discipline of Six Sigma.
Sure you want to implement Six Sigma. Why – You have heard about it somewhere and the good things it brings about, but you need to
Install a culture: A culture not of just saving money and saving money! A culture where employees think improvement. A culture where employees are empowered to improve.
Get involved: People say top leadership support is critical for the success of Six Sigma. We are sure that if you have thought long about Six Sigma you have decided to support it. Don’t just stop with it! Get involved in the execution. I am not asking you to start executing the projects. But, being a part of all tollgate meets, canceling slow moving projects, not initiating projects of strategic value are actions you can do.
Don’t fall to cheaters: The company is yours. As one who thinks about the welfare of the organization, do not:
Hire a Six Sigma guy if he doesn’t have on-hand experience implementing the discipline.
Think that a Six Sigma guy from Oil and Gas will benefit your Oil and Gas company. Make a dispassionate and a neutral assessment of who will bring value.
Rush for time as Six Sigma implementations need time to prosper and bring about benefits. If your project team asks you for 6 months as they have considered the complexity and other details, ask them but don’t tell them to do it in 3 months. Sends a wrong message!
So, you are the whacking guys of the fraternity. I know sales is important for you because you want to cash in on this "Golden Goose". Alas some bad news on its way --- The Golden Goose is about to die!
But, you can do your bit by:
1. Having a standardized training duration for delivery of Six Sigma Green Belt training sessions.
2. Having a pre-training assessment for all trainees.
3. Selecting trainers who have on-hand project implementation experience and not just some bloke who can stand in front of 10 people and chatter away non-stop!
4. Being diligent about your assessment practices. Don’t give away a Green Belt to someone by making them appear for a theoretical assessment of 40 questions. That is ridiculous!
5. And finally, don’t just sell a training program like Six Sigma to someone without you even knowing if they need it or not. Just because you get a sale closed doesn’t mean you should sell someone the dummy. Yes, people bought it thus far, but they may not any more.
You guys can be a part of something big. That’s how the companies who made it big reached there. But for that to happen, we need certain things from you guys and they are:
1. Do your research before you enroll with a Six Sigma training organization. Remember one thing --- If they are teaching you, doesn’t mean you cannot learn yourself!
2. Just because you want to save time or cut corners, don’t land up with unscrupulous entities who will give you a certification after just attending X days of program. Remember one thing guys --- No project in Six Sigma, no value! Then it doesn’t matter where you get the certification from!
3. Finally, when you start doing projects make sure it is of strategic value to the organization. As you near completion, make sure you give one thing a serious thought – How can this implementation of yours truly bring about a transformation in people’s lives!
The situation is not as bad as it is portrayed to be, but it can be within a jiffy! With most of the indicators looking red, it is time all the stakeholders get up and wake up to reality. Six Sigma approaches will work as intended, or as how it is defined in Wikipedia but for that to happen, we need to do the above mentioned points.
Of course, if any of you have any other point to add, feel free to do so
The author of this article, C. Vishwanathan is a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt and has completed 17 projects (Implemented/ Led/ Mentored) and has trained 1000 trainees in the discipline of Six Sigma. You can speak to Vishy at firstname.lastname@example.org.