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Six Sigma and Upper Management

Aug 17, 2007
The one ultimate reward that counts for any business organization is improvement of bottom line profitability and the return of satisfied customers. This end result must justify all the initiatives taken by upper management. Upper management utilizes a tool called "cost of poor quality (or "COPQ") as a barometer for evaluating six sigma projects. Apparently, it is the only way to get upper management to accept six sigma. The upper echelons of corporations have come to realize the importance of six sigma for its tangible economic benefits.

Understand the value of upper management support for quality/process improvement top down fully, when you learn that management does not realize the importance of investing that extra time and money in quality improvement or lacks the commitment. Let's be straight forward, this scenario is not uncommon. Six sigma has such lasting power and broad scope that transcend departments and exposes the need (though not always) for change in organizational structure. Both of these would be hard battles to fight unless strong management support was present. Resistance of this type could be due to organizational inertia, or it could also be intentional.

Six sigma calls for long haul, complete and in depth implementation, which is definitely not for the faint of heart. It is possible only if your organization has 100% commitment from top management. This is why experts place blame on upper management for the failure of six sigma. Only continuous, rock solid support, monitoring and encouragement from the top brass only can prevent the failure of six sigma. Straightforward intentions for implementation should come from a customer centric viewpoint and a desire to produce quality services/products.

The continuity of the program requires undivided and dedicated monitory support until the end of the project. Upper management identifies the need, sets the ball in motion and provides continuous support (managerial and financial), which is the lifeline for the success of six sigma implementation. If these elements are not present, achieving the stated goals over a long period of time become difficult, if not impossible. One initial green light from management will not suffice; it takes continued commitment and engagement to inspire and motivate the people involved until the end.

Six sigma is a complete quality management and turn around system. As such, it identifies organizational shortcomings, wherever there are. With upper management on board, implementation stages can be monitored; midway course corrections can be suggested and any possible roadblocks at various steps of implementation can be overcome. As you can see, six sigma can be successfully implemented with the commitment of complete organizational support.

What upper management needs to understand is that six sigma is a widespread and far- reaching quality improvement program where it has to play a critical role in order to see ultimate business goals succeed. Although the various 'belts' implement six sigma, they are selected, trained and motivated by top management for the implementation of six sigma methodology. The upper management until the very end must support them. Only in this way can six sigma bring about significant and long lasting results to the organization.
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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