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Six Sigma - Business Realities

Aug 17, 2007
There are criticisms about Six Sigma which say that the methodology is an elitist technique. Through all this, Six Sigma has proven itself to be a highly effective management tool. Most of the incidences of roadblocks to Six Sigma have come from external sources. In the rare events of its failures, they are ultimately determined to have been caused by improper training of belts or Master Black Belts, not because of system errors.

How the Business World Looks at Six Sigma

Six Sigma is looked upon as a strategic business tool in the business circles, notwithstanding what others would like to think. However, it is regarded as the ultimate tool of improvement and profitability, able to both meet and exceed customer expectations and increase customer satisfaction levels.

Factors That Determine Six Sigma's Success

Typically Six Sigma's success depends a lot on two things. They are the steadfast commitment by top management to implementation and the success of the black belts as implementers.

The commitment of the top management is necessary until the completion of the program. The reasons cited for the lack of interest by management are basically financially oriented. Hefty consultation fees in millions of dollars that run for years and the training cost for the belts are the main reason - because Six Sigma takes time to implement, to show results and impact return on investment, the expenses incurred in Six Sigma implementation bears heavily on the bottom line of the company.

In addition to these reasons, there are roadblocks hit by black belts. These require intervention by Champions to diffuse tensions and resolve problems in implementation. These problems can be in the form of non-cooperation from a specific business division. Competition between divisions in the company can cause a few sparks to fly. In cases like these, upper management needs to take quick and decisive action to diffuse the tensions. If this fails, it can result in lack of motivation of the team.

The question on whether or not the belts succeed depends a lot on the training and their experiences. But unfortunately there is a big gap here as there is no centralized training or and no standardization. Universities, private institutes and corporations train Six Sigma candidates. Due to this, it is observed that there is a big question mark over the quality of training. Belts from different training backgrounds can fail to make a solid team, as there are chinks in Six Sigma training uniformity due to disparities in training levels.

Summarized View

You can summarize the business realities faced by Six Sigma as follows:
1. Huge cost and time required for implementation

2. Slow showing of financial benefits and customer satisfaction

3. Possibility of management losing interest midway

4. High cost of consultants

5. Skirmishes between the belts and the rest of
the staff threatening team cohesiveness

6. Elitist notion of 6 sigma professionals; income disparities with the staff demotivate the latter

7. Financial benefit: 0.5% to 1% 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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