Vol. 4, No. 1
I just received an email from an old friend, asking, “What’s the ‘beyond’ in the title of your column?” I’m glad he asked, since his question prompted me to get a little clearer about a presentation I made last month at the 10th Annual Quality Dayton Awards Celebration.
They asked me to bring a message to local small business owners and executives about Six Sigma. The Six Sigma I know about is oriented toward the cost side of large manufacturing organizations. It costs a lot of money to get started, and as with all changes, there are pitfalls that enthusiasts sometimes find. For example, in order to recognize Six Sigma successes, very simple improvements may be made using needlessly complex Six Sigma tools. By focusing only on these “successes,” systems that ought to be redesigned are simply improved. The underlying management values, philosophy and intent may remain unclear and sometimes even a little dark. And, Six Sigma cost reductions occasionally result in deterioration of other aspects of performance such as quality and delivery to the customer. I know that these shortfalls may not be the intent of Six Sigma, but I hear and read enough about them to believe there may be an opportunity for improvement as Six Sigma technologies are applied to small organizations.
So, I developed Six Sigma Simplified (S3). I am advocating it as an approach to Six Sigma tailored for small organizations. What I have said about Six Sigma in previous columns is consistent with S3. In this column, I will suggest entering the Six Sigma process in a way that requires minimal upfront investment cost and permits an organization to delve ever more deeply into Six Sigma as it pays for itself.
The trick is to start small. Get just the training required to “pick the low hanging fruit” or, as another friend, Bud Lunsford, once told me, “shoot the fat rabbit.” You can begin S3 using the process I suggested in last month’s article to get to that first project. I’ve included a summary of a relatively simple process you can use on that first project. It may, in fact, work for many other projects. My guess is that you will need more sophisticated processes as time goes by, but this is a good place to start. Once your internal S3 consultant is comfortable with this simple process and the tools that go with it, get started. Here are a few personal, real life examples of small organizations starting small.
I do not intend to denigrate the power of complex tools such as experimental design. But entry into S3 is much easier for small organizations if they start small and let the beginning savings feed the more in-depth approach. So, what’s the ‘beyond’? For me it’s the S3 approach, an entry into the world of Six Sigma for small organizations that:
As always, let me know what you think. You can reach me at email@example.com
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