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The Future Is Bright For Six Sigma

Aug 17, 2007
There are arguments raging over efficacy of Six Sigma in all aspects of business processes. Take, for example, the case of billing your customers. If the process is fundamentally defective, where Six Sigma fails to take a strategic and holistic approach without focusing on the flaws inherent in the system itself, Six Sigma's outstanding abilities to unearth root causes of inefficiency can't be questioned. It deploys analytical and statistical tools to expose flaws in the execution, albeit without questioning whether the process itself is riddled with defects.

Kenneth S. Stephens, a retired professor of quality management, in the Southern College of Technology, has a different viewpoint. Different quality management tools such as TQM and Six Sigma are not very different conceptually except for their labels. Managers and corporations tend use the same statistical confounded philosophy, albeit with different labels. What described the whole sphere of statistical phenomenon coupled with some of the brilliant managerial, engineering and other procedures put together has later emerged as Six Sigma.

The Limited Success Of Six Sigma

Since its famous emergence after the Motorola implementation, Six Sigma has been more or less popular with large companies where conflicting situations exist on the processing front with big ROI potential as opposed to that of small and medium businesses. The potential ROI in small and medium companies will be invariably smaller relative to the cost of Six Sigma implementation. The processes are also simpler which makes sense.

Looking at these factors, it becomes very difficult to differentiate between various quality management tools like TQM, Six Sigma and Kaizen Events where all of them share most of the basic principles, whereas as the scope, time frame and talent base remain same as mandated across the disciplines.

Furthermore, there are other supporting arguments to the theory that the training that the Black Belts receive is not quite up to the mark. After the training, the Black Belt needs to be able to successfully meet the management needs of the Six Sigma team. Unless candidates have a lot of experience with creditable accomplishments and leadership, the cost justification of the implementation suffers.

Future of Six Sigma

As is common knowledge, Six Sigma shares many fundamental principles and tools with other quality techniques, which leads us back to the thought that the emergence of Six Sigma was only psychologically satisfying to upper management. All programs with different labels have met similar successes or failures as had Six Sigma. What is more, there is no denying the argument that even Six Sigma would have possibly met the same fate as other techniques, all conditions being equal.

Alternately, Kaizen may be thought of for smaller implementations and especially in situations where the problem sources are not very complicated. And Six Sigma can enjoy its place under the sun, for larger projects where the problems are far more complex and the root causes are not clearly understood prior to 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 lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.
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