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Ten Essential Do's and Do not's of Six Sigma

There is an excellent and lucid presentation by “Six Sigma Qualtec”, on Six Sigma Initiative. The white paper brings  out the dos, don’ts, relevance and the importance of systematic approach for instituting 6 sigma programme.  The “6 sigma” caption is not a mere marketing hype, although many organizations tend to use it more as a market promotion banner for their product!
6 sigma programme is a strategic business initiative and not a quality improvement programme for any organization or enterprise. It has far reaching values and benefits to an organization.  The long run benefits are cultural change, recognition and pride to an organization, which one can  term as a “Class Organization”. Typically, quality initiatives and quality improvement programmes, aim at  improving the quality of the product or services, which can be by improved processes or by using high standard (specifications) materials, utilities, software etc., and so on. The 6 sigma programme is a kind of reverse process, where one addresses the defects and reverse engineers to eliminate or minimize the defects. More importantly, it is not about skill of an individual or addressed to a single person to improve quality. 6 sigma programmes are generally “projects” and they are internalized in organizations in totality and driven by the entire organization, with complete involvement from the top.
“Six Sigma Qualtec” explains in the introductory paragraph itself in their white paper, the usual assumptions and ineffective approaches that a few organizations make which lead to disastrous failures, resulting in unsuccessful implementation of 6 sigma initiative. The subsequent part of the papers attempts to bring about what one should do to ensure for successful accomplishment of 6 sigma initiative in any organization. The common pitfalls and stumbling blocks a typical 6 sigma Project Manager or 6 sigma Black belt team-lead had  faced in their endeavor of implementing 6 sigma project has been brought out well in this part of the paper.  Four important aspects clearly emanate.
They are;
1.       A meticulous and detailed approach without compromise.
2.       A thorough training and understanding of 6 sigma steps, tools and techniques.
3.       Involvement at all level.
4.       Belief and constant drive from the top.
    The paper brings out 10 major dos and don’ts, which I have replicated here, enables for easier remembrance, when one wishes to take 6 sigma initiative. They are;
1.       Ask yourself why you want to undertake Six Sigma. The answer should be crystal clear.
2.       Get the backing and involvement of the executive team.
          CEO, understanding its enormous potential, often becomes the driving force.
3.       Plan the deployment and infrastructure. 
4.       Establish a formal project selection system. 
5.       Select the right candidates for training. 
6.       Provide on‐the‐job support. 
7.       Ensure that Champions are involved and accountable. 
8.       Get relevant process owners involved. 
9.       Communicate at all levels. 
10.     Set up deployment reviews. 
1.       Don’t launch without planning
2.       Don’t do Six Sigma training to get a “tick in the box.” 
3.       Don’t let Six Sigma be seen as the “flavor of the month.” 
4.       Don’t expect DMAIC to solve all problems. 
5.       Don’t attempt to boil the ocean. 
Don’t get hung up on the statistics. 
7.       Don’t run Six Sigma as a quality initiative
8.       Don’t expect Black Belts to do all the work. 
9.       Don’t allow the Black Belt role to be a part‐time job. 
10.    Don’t allow stakeholders or specialists to overrule solutions. 
The DOs clearly indicate the seriousness of the programme and they are well enumerated in the paper and therefore the success depends on how closely one is able to embrace the systematic and rigorous approach required in the programme.  The DON’Ts are the experiences faced in realm of 6 sigma implementations.
The paper makes a good reading and can serve as a precursor for those who wish to take this initiative. They should mull over each point in depth, if required, (why if!) to discuss with the top management and take it further, with full support for implementation!

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Prof UV Mohan
Department of Quantitative Studies & Operations Management.
Ref: white Paper – Ten essential dos and don’s for six sigma deployment by SIX SIGMA QUALTEC