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Understanding Six Sigma Deployment Failures

Jul 17, 2008
Successful deployment is when acceptable ROI is realized. When a Six Sigma deployment fails, it may mean the failure to attain the return on investment necessary by the company to make any other investment.

There may be failures when the program fails to deliver on the promised savings. They are often the result of over-enthusiastic salesmanship. Though it cannot be defined, the failure can be in any form in any program

The Master Black Belts, Black Belts and the Green Belts may sometimes fail to meet the expectations; these may be their failures. Black Belts have to devote their entire time to the program and have at least a basic knowledge of the tools. As the project moves on, they should learn to transfer the ownership of the solution to team members.

A graphical presentation will have more impact on the audience. Additionally, if they are covering up false data or use special effects in their presentations to hide the lack of content, it is an indicator of their failure to take the project further.

Sharing and Communication

The success of any Six Sigma project lies in sharing the credit for the solution with team members and bringing them into the spotlight. Team leaders should try to create exclusivity around the project. Communicating effectively with upper management is necessary for the success of the project. Resistance is a natural reaction to change - it will be encountered in every project.

Ignoring it is not the solution to overcome resistance; awareness about it and a plan to tackle it carefully has to be in place before deployment. There will typically be hurdles in any Six Sigma project. Black Belts should approach the Champions for resolution only after they have tried to take measures to overcome them.

At the same time, they should not avoid taking the roadblock to the Champion if they have failed in removing it.


The failures on the part of management and the company as a whole will arise when they fail to rise to the customer's expectations. This happens when they do not align the project to the objectives of the organization. This is the biggest factor for failure. When Six Sigma is deployed without a target or goal or without a systematic plan for a goal, then it is bound to fail.

Change cannot be achieved without a proper change process that involves the participation of upper management. Feedback is necessary for the various metrics in place. The Champion has to be accountable and available for reviews and reporting.

The training of the Master Black Belts and Black Belts and Green Belts has to be carried out in order for them to be aware of the various tools and techniques of Six Sigma project deployment. They should not be used for fire fighting purposes; they should be involved throughout. A reward and recognition policy should be in place to that recognizes the efforts of the core Six Sigma group as well as their teams.

At the same time, it could also be a part of a retention program for trained employees. The top level, as well as middle level management should be accountable. All areas, such as design and marketing, purchasing and sales, production and so on should be considered for Six Sigma project deployment.
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 six sigma professionals including, lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.
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