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Factors That Determine Six Sigma Success

Dec 12, 2007
Six Sigma And Business Realities

Although there are some cases of failures when using Six Sigma, they are very rare. Failures usually occur due to improper training of the team. Six Sigma is still looked upon as a strategic business tool - that is the ultimate in inducing improvement and increasing profitability. Six Sigma not only meets but also exceeds customer expectations by its efficient performance, and thus increases overall customer satisfaction levels.

Factors That Determine Success

Now that we know that some of the failures that occur are not because of the system but rather because of the workforce, let's see look at some of the elements that determine the success of Six Sigma:

Six Sigma experts opine that the success of Six Sigma depends on two main factors: one, the steadfast commitment to the implementation process by top management and second, the success of Black Belts as implementers.

Commitment is essential until the completion of the program. Experts have been trying to find out the reason for the loss of interest in the commitment and it has been observed that the financial implications are one of the main reasons for them withdrawing from projects. The consultation fee can run into the millions and the training cost for the "belts" is equally prohibitive. Also, any Six Sigma strategy takes time to implement and show results. This has an impact on the on return on investment and the expenses that are incurred. The implementation of Six Sigma poses a significant burden on the bottom line of the company.

The second reason for the failure is bottlenecks, such as non-cooperation faced by Black Belts. There are also many reasons for roadblocks presenting themselves in the implementation process, such as non-cooperation from certain business divisions and unhealthy competition among different divisions. All these roadblocks require timely intervention from Champions to diffuse the tension and solve the problems - because if the tensions and problems persist, it can result in lack of motivation of the team.

So the big question is how to how to help the belts succeed in overcoming these problems effectively. The belts, especially the Black Belts, can excel in resolving problems and steady the implementation process if they are trained properly and have considerable practical experience to back them up. Properly trained Black Belts can easily understand the root cause of the problem and will right away start with the problem solving measures that will effect the problem area. However there is a big problem with 6 Sigma, in that is there are no standard centralized training given. There are many universities, private institutes and corporations that train Black Belts. However, there is a big question mark on the quality of training they give. Candidates getting the training are from different backgrounds, and the lack of uniform training content creates disparity in training levels.

In short, the realities that are faced by the Six Sigma team and strategy can be summed up as follows:

- Prohibitive cost and longer period of time required for implementation.

- Delay in showing of results in terms of financial benefits and customer satisfaction.

- Likelihood of the higher level decision making management losing interest in their commitment midway.

- Huge consultancy costs

- Friction between the Belts and the rest of the staff

- Elitist assumptions of six sigma professionals and income disparities demotivate the staff.

- Very low financial benefit percentage 0.5 to 1.0 per project.
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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