Six Untapped Opportunities in Six Sigma

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Bryan Camoens

Process Excellence Network’s Bryan Camoens speaks to 6 Six Sigma authorities who discuss the untapped opportunities in Six Sigma and where we will see their deployment in the coming years.

Seow Hong Xuan, Deputy Director, Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt SINGTEL:
"Lean Six Sigma is a structured approach towards problem solving. People used to say Six Sigma only works for process that has controlled factors but it has been proven otherwise. People used to say Six Sigma is for manufacturing, again it has been proven otherwise.
Many other industries are deploying in their areas. Importantly, Lean Six Sigma should be deployed and used as and when there is an opportunity in terms of Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control. If you look at any happenings in the day-to-day activities, DMAIC just happens to everything. You don’t know what you don’t know, so just go forward and uncover any opportunities that come along with DMAIC."
Khwaja Moinuddin, Head of Process Excellence for Garmco :
"Six Sigma and Lean (TPS) methodologies are like an ocean. Even the most advanced experts are yet to tap the full potential of lean six sigma philosophy and methodology. Most of the organizations are satisfied with simple analysis (like fish bone diagrams, process maps and basic statistical analyses like regression analysis, basic DOEs etc). It takes a while (and of course lots and lots of patience) to teach and train and get the buy in from employees to actually use these simple methodologies instead of taking the shot gun approach of jumping to solutions. One of the most famous quotes is 'In GOD we believe, for all else, show me the data'.
Just to give an example of untapped opportunities is using advanced statistical methods like surface response designs (advanced form of Design of Experiment), advanced regression analysis (using curvature and Durbin Watson statistics, linking eVSMs with excel and thus analyzing VSMs, design FMEAs etc). There are many more. As we dig deeper into each method, we understand the process more and thus make the correct decisions and thus move the organization in the right direction (leaving the competition miles behind). The only thing we need is patience. Many people use the term "Paralysis by Analysis" referring to too much analysis and no decision making. I don’t agree with this because impatient people use this phrase often which often leads to incorrect decision making. The Japanese companies (Toyota particularly) plans, plans, plans, plans, replans, replans, plans again and executes the plan right the first time. Western companies and some Asian companies’ plan, plan, become impatient with planning, execute, correct, plan again, execute the plan, correct the plan again, execute and finally maybe get it right! They lose a lot of time by following this method (if only they realized it!)."
Rohit Khanna, Chief Operations Officer of GE CAPITAL:
"Six Sigma can be a great program for all parts of the organization that have repetitive internal processes at one end; and complex new product development on the other. We have seen it being actively deployed in varied functions and industries over the last 15 years. In fact, though it originally started in Manufacturing, the Services industry has benefited immensely from its application in banking, hotels, healthcare and other related industries.
The potential for Six Sigma to drive customer satisfaction and income is immense as we speak. Some areas where I believe companies can do more: firstly share the Six Sigma experience with smaller customers who may not have the wherewithal or commitment to afford a standalone implementation – very similar to At the Customer, For the Customer initiatives GE has successfully run. An extension of the idea could be in Supply Chains where again Six Sigma can be used to optimize performance.
We also need a better understanding of the balance between process excellence and innovation. An indiscriminate Six Sigma deployment can damage the creativity levels in a company in the long-term, resulting instead in bureaucracy and tendency to over analyze. Done well, I see significant opportunity in a more proactive approach with focus on designing for Six Sigma vs merely using it for incremental improvements."
Dumidu Ranaweera, Process Excellence & Lean Six Sigma Manager, for DIALOG AXIATA PLC:
"Lean Six Sigma has been applied and tested in many areas of late and still keeps proving its potential. Green Lean Six Sigma (application of Lean Six Sigma towards reducing environmental impacts), Lean Six Sigma in Marketing, Lean Six Sigma Accounting, and Lean Six Sigma for SME are some new emerging areas of Lean Six Sigma application.
For the future there can be also grown interest on how Lean Six Sigma tools can be used in Socialnomics i.e. mainly to enhance leverage of companies operating based out of Social media. There are many blue oceans in the Asian and African terrain that still needs to be explored even by the promoters of traditional methods of application. Lot of interest has also generated towards applying the concept in College education and making Lean part of the standard student curriculum.
It’s an area that many organizations can think of venturing out from their normal operations. There is also huge potential and growing demand on academic programmes (i.e. specialized degrees) on Lean Six Sigma and online education and open source training material."
Alex Budiman, Vice President, of Operations for Biosensors International:
"Within our organization, one big opportunity lies in integrating Six Sigma into business excellence that will allow the greatest impact with optimum resources.
The other opportunity lies in playing a key role in the sustainability of an organization. In general, I don’t think Six Sigma has been tapped by non-manufacturing organizations with the same deployment intensity as by manufacturing organizations."
Remigus Saptono, Six Sigma Process Specialist for Goodyear Tire & Rubber:
"The consistency on implementing the program to become continuous improvement all the time. The Six Sigma method is not something frigid and can not become a creative solution for anyone. Creating the Six Sigma method as the main culture in the company will help us on seeking the opportunities to improving our product and services.
The more we committed to implement it and evaluate it regularly the more we know our position in the business so we can creating some creative way to go in the competitors business and will knowing better what customer needs and wants. In my point of view, Six Sigma is the centre on continuous improvement cycle to create a competitive advantage in the business."