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Six Sigma Requires a Substantial Commitment from "Informal" Leaders

Aug 17, 2007
An awful lot has been said lately about Six Sigma and its abilities to bring out the full potential in any business or organization. However, the aspect - other than money - that most frequently causes a company to stop in its tracks when confronted with the option of taking on a Six Sigma strategy is the fact that it requires such a substantial leadership commitment.

This being said, leadership doesn't just mean the people at the top of the company hierarchy. Leadership commitment in this sense is required by all leaders in the business, whether they be presidents, CEO's, team leaders, or "informal" leaders.

In fact, it is these informal leaders who are being recognized as among the most highly influential in the success of Six Sigma implementation in a business. Such informal leaders are recognized as coming from three primary groups. These can be connectors, mavens, and salespeople.

* Connectors - these are individuals in a business who are able to naturally build rapport with other employees, customers, and clients. These are the first people that should be identified for implementing Six Sigma in a business. They are at the heart of influence in the organization, knowing everyone, often performing introductions, and frequently performing a great deal of networking and referrals.

* Mavens - these people are the individuals who are responsible for connecting employees with the technology utilized within the business. Since they are at the core of technology changes and introductions in the company, they are a natural part of the Six Sigma execution, it is vital to have them identified and prepared.

* Salespeople - these are the people who are in it for the cash. They work for the reward that they receive. They need to see Six Sigma as a path to personal gain. If this is done successfully, they will help to spread Six Sigma throughout the rest of the business.

Each of these types of informal leaders will play a vital and irreplaceable role in the "social structure" of the Six Sigma implementation process. They are the motivation, application, and practicality element that is so critical to the successful introduction and maintenance of Six Sigma. They are also the people who prevent alienation, confusion, and resistance to change in the processes of the business.

Keeping informal leaders out of the Six Sigma loop is a direct path to failure. They will resent being left out, and the most important procedural influences will be lacking.

Therefore, make sure that you have well trained - occasionally black-belt trained - Six Sigma informal leaders throughout your business to get the ball rolling, and to be certain that it is always headed in the right direction.
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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