Six Sigma is dead, Long Live six sigma
Process Improvement Methodologies like medicinal approaches are similar at their root and what they seek to accomplish. What works for you or your organisation depends on the following factors:
1. Organisation DNA – Data-Oriented vs. Intuitive approach or like most somewhere in the middle.
2. Stage of the Business – Teens, Mid-Age or Grown Adult
3. The Problem Maturity – Understanding of the causes – Known vs. Unknown
We at EasyProblemSolving don’t advocate one vs the other approach but rather look at what’s best suited for the problem at hand. Like everything in today’s environment some approaches may seem dated, cumbersome and a host of other adjectives 😊
Let’s take a stab at demystifying Six Sigma which fits the line above and off late has been at the receiving end of ridicule. Some of the common criticism that I’ve come across in my 2 decades of experience are as follows:
Too Dated – This in my view stems from lack of understanding of the methodology, it did revolutionise several large organisations from Motorola to Honeywell and GE, it depends on how the methodology is institutionalised and made to suit the organisational objective. It’s not about creating a team of statistical experts who like an economist (no offence to them) are vilified for a lack of business orientation but rather create a pool who can demystify a problem into a simple equation Y = f(x).
Results take too long – Well in this age of Instant Gratification, it seems a fair critique. Let’s scratch a little below the surface to understand if that’s really the case. If we make Six Sigma a typical cookie cutter solution it may appear to justify the fact, however, if we use it for problems which do not have an evident solution it pays handsome dividends in unearthing the complex contributing factors and create a sustainable solution.
Technological Advances make it irrelevant – The growth in Analytics, AI or Digital solution may make it seem so but I tend to look at it little differently. In my own experience the Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve and Control approach lends itself very well as a Project Management approach in which Analytics, AI and others can be incorporated as tools for analysis or creating a solution in Improve phase
In summary, a methodology like humans, can and should evolve. It's imperative that we as practitioners extract the best aspects and carve a solution for our customers.
Would love to hear your views and experiences around it.