September 19, 2017

Reasons Six Sigma Projects Fail – Is it Really Worth the Hassle?

Why Six Sigma Fails

Reasons Six Sigma Projects Fail
Reasons Six Sigma Projects Fail

Reasons Six Sigma Projects Fail

Below are some of the reasons Six Sigma projects fail.  While Six Sigma offers a widely varied tool-box to help promote operational excellence, it does little to include corporate culture or exploit innovation.

Cost savings vs Lost Revenue

Another one of the many reasons Six Sigma projects fail is that they focus on the wrong thing:  Identifying opportunities for reducing errors.  There will always be errors, otherwise there would be no growth in.  Those who think that Six Sigma is intended to reduce “waste” are confusing this with “Lean”.  Lean is another methodology for creating value for the customer and eliminating anything not adding value to the product or service intended for the customer.  This is not to be confused with Lean Six Sigma, which is another variation combining two distinct techniques, each of which are not without their pros and cons. I will write more about this in the future.

In a nutshell, a typical Six Sigma approach will force you to identify a practical problem, transform it to a statistical problem, design a hypothetical statistical solution, then transform it into a practical solution.  For this to work, sometimes you need to cross your fingers and hope that the already burdened employees selected for your Six Sigma project agree to the actions they need to adhere to, often with little say, as they don’t know anything about MSA, R&R, or hypothesis testing.

 

Stifled Innovation

Six Sigma stifles most if not all innovation in an organization.  Innovation here means the ability for a company’s work force to devise clever means to solve problems.  For anyone who thinks that Six Sigma is a quality assurance tool, sorry to disappoint you, but it isn’t.  Six Sigma is a statistical approach to problem solving in your business.

I know of more companies whose executives empower their employees by telling them to do whatever it takes to fix the problem.  This often means buying a plane ticket or paying more to a supplier for expedited shipment fees, etc.  At the end of the day, the employee who is left to resolve problems on his or her own will feel more rewarded.  These employees bring more value to the enterprise than if they had to escalate to their Six Sigma Blackbelt, who may be too busy in the first place.

Successful companies are not averse to cost reduction initiatives, but are much more successful in generating revenue than asking themselves whether they have too many head count.  The key is innovation and being in “solution mode”, which ensures these reasons Six Sigma projects fail are kept at bay.

Today’s companies must focus on more innovative ways to increase revenue and identify other forms of revenue than being in attrition mode.

 

Hindrances to Corporate Culture

Implementing a company wide system or program implementation such as an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planner) or a Recycle/Reduce/Reuse program is difficult.  You may have a chance with an energy efficiency program.  Instituting a Six Sigma project is next to impossible, no matter how good your intentions are, which is another among several reasons Six Sigma

Many executives will agree that the most successful implementations in their organizations are those that began as grass-roots movements.

Most companies have failed with Six Sigma because they took a top-down approach, introducing it too late.

Successful programs must be implemented from the bottom up.  Employees must recognize a need for change or doing things more efficiently.  They must also be given the tools to attain this, in incremental baby-steps.

 

Benefactors – Six Sigma Training Industry

If you’ve ever Googled “six sigma” you probably noticed there was an abundance of search results offering Six Sigma training or certification.  In fact, over the years, the origins of these searches seem to have shifted from the US and UK to India.  The number of Six Sigma Training organizations available may explain other reasons Six Sigma projects fail.  Many of these training organizations have paid to appear at the top of search results.

However, not as much is out there regarding learning Six Sigma on your own except except for some niche sites such as iSixsigma or sixsigmaz.  There are too many resources out there offering training in Six Sigma for a fee.  This fee is usually int the thousands of dollars.

A decade ago, Six Sigma was divided in two branches.  These were DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control) and DFSS (Design for Six Sigma).  Only Green or Black Belt training was offered.  Master Black Belt training was only for select candidates having proven to have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Green Belt candidates would have had to demonstrate savings of at least $50,000.

 

Too Much Training to Offer

Today, training is available for health Six Sigma, Lean Six Sigma, Lean Manufacturing, Kaizen Events, etc.  Many training houses now offer additional belts including White, Yellow, Red, and even Gold. White Belts get a certificate after participating in a one-hour webinar!

To summarize some of the reasons Six Sigma projects fail, training should be at focusing on identifying new, creative ways at generating revenue.  Rather than cutting expenses and other costs.

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