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Solutions to Managing Six Sigma Effectively

Apr 1, 2008
The system focuses on eliminating variations within production which can produce defects in order to ensure that all products (3.4 of every one million units) are satisfactory to the customer and remain within costs. Six Sigma looks at production on a project by project basis, with qualified individuals taking the lead.

While Six Sigma has been successful in many applications, and in some cases wildly so, there are other businesses that have achieved what can be politely labeled as mixed results after the implementation of the system. There are a couple of reasons for this, and we'll take a look at them and their remedies below.

-Ensure you are applying Six Sigma principles to Six Sigma situations. One of the big mistakes made by businesses when it comes to implementing Six Sigma is believing that the principles apply to all businesses and all situations. It's very important to understand that Six Sigma was conceived as a way to eliminate deviation within products, and the same principles cannot be applied to people. Many attempts to transfer Six Sigma principles to retail have failed because of a lack of understanding over this important fact. While the products within retail can be subjected to the quality control methods of Six Sigma, the actual personnel cannot the subjected to the principles, only trained in them.

-Ensure that personnel within the business are properly trained. Another area where many businesses fall short when it comes to Six Sigma implementation is in the training of the different levels of personnel needed to successfully incorporate the system. I have seen articles that state that it should cost between $20,000 and $25,000 to train just one black belt. This training is vital when it comes to the understanding of personnel about this specific quality control process, and without full training the system will break down and appear ineffective.

-Commitment at all levels. Perhaps the former CEO of GE said it best when he stated that if management expected promotion within his company, they had better be Black Belts. Six Sigma quality control needs to be supported from the top levels of a company right down to the Green Belts, with everyone understanding what the system is and why it works.

Those three reasons are probably the most common areas in which companies fail to manage their attempts to integrate Six Sigma principles into their overall company structure. There really are no short cuts if one really wants the Six Sigma philosophy to translate into real results within their company, and the overall process requires an analysis of a company's needs, a dedication to proper training, and lastly integration within the overall corporate philosophy.
About the Author
Tony Jacowski is a quality analyst for The MBA Journal. Aveta Solution's Six Sigma Online offers online six sigma training and certification classes for lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.
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