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No, Six Sigma is not a silver bullet. Here are 5 reasons why.

by Mark C. DeLuzio, writer of "Flatlined: Why Lean Transformations Fail and What to Do About It"


What’s the key to remodeling a enterprise? All-in all-in. As a frontrunner, that you must take a confirmed set of enterprise rules as an answer and absolutely decide to them. If that answer is Lean – and I like to recommend that it’s – you’ll be able to't additionally take the Six Sigma Practice (or any of the opposite instruments that get confused with Lean).

Following within the footsteps of Common Electrical Firm (GE) and capitalizing on the eagerness of enterprise leaders to purchase one thing new, consulting companies have bought Six Sigma as the last word instrument for enterprise. enterprise enchancment. Nonetheless, the vast majority of firms which have relied on Six Sigma have failed to extend shareholder worth. Over ten years in the past, Dr. Charles Holland of QualPro carried out a examine of 58 firms that had marketed Six Sigma packages. His discoveries? Ninety-one p.c of those firms had been following the S&P 500.

Whereas Six Sigma has its place within the steady enchancment spectrum, there are 5 causes to not use it as a panacea:

1. That is the unsuitable instrument for the job.

Six Sigma is a statistical drawback fixing course of that falls inside the framework of Lean. Relatively than competing with Lean, it must be paired with all the opposite instruments in your Lean toolbox. Utilizing Six Sigma to enhance high quality and cut back variation appears cheap. However when groups rely an excessive amount of on Six Sigma to resolve issues, different approaches could be higher at fixing issues which are expensive and add up shortly.

Listed below are two examples of inappropriate Six Sigma utility:

After we labored on our benchmark kaizen inside GE's client credit score division, GE Cash, we utilized lean worth chain mapping to their course of and diminished their lead time from 63 days to someday. In distinction, Six Sigma engineers targeted on lowering the time it takes to finish an order – a one hour course of – moderately than the 63 day lead time! Our Lean Breakthrough generated a further $ 216 million in income within the first yr alone and contributed to the recognition of Lean inside GE.

For one among my consulting agency's purchasers, Six Sigma Experiment Design was the best instrument to correctly outline over 25 variables of their foundry course of to make sure a top quality half. Nonetheless, the VP of Enterprise High quality needed to introduce Six Sigma all through the corporate which might have negatively impacted initiatives higher suited to Lean.

2. It takes longer.

Lean & # 39; s deal with steady enchancment creates a way of urgency. Enhancements can begin instantly, and the everyday Lean kaizen initiative will get outcomes inside days. The spirit of the kaizen course of targets 70 to 75 p.c of wants, moderately than all nuances. "Don't let perfection get in the way in which of the perfect" is what Lean practitioners ought to bear in mind.

In contrast to Lean, Six Sigma requires a larger funding of time, with tasks spanning a number of months, as a result of:

– Six Sigma requires preliminary and costly coaching, and enhancements can not start till certifications at totally different ranges are achieved (essential black belt, black belt, inexperienced belt, and so on.).

– Six Sigma tends to hunt full options to handle all conditions, which provides delay earlier than the advance course of begins.

– Six Sigma tasks require vital and time-consuming information assortment and evaluation.

three. Its objective is three.four defects per million.

Search for Lean, not Six Sigma, for the whole elimination of defects. As one among my Japanese senseis defined, "Six Sigma will not be good!" We should always have a zero fault mentality, not an acceptance of many.

Whereas Lean ensures the standard of a component or service earlier than passing it on to the subsequent course of, Six Sigma depends on Statistical Course of Management (SPC) the place you’ll be able to verify a component on. 15. Would you want an airline to verify each 15 plane? Clearly, there are particular industries the place defects are unacceptable. But all companies that purpose to be world class ought to purpose for zero defect. Opposite to widespread perception, it’s not prohibitively costly; poor high quality is confirmed to value rather more.

four. It's not inclusive.

Whereas there’s a lot to be discovered in Lean and Six Sigma methodologies, Six Sigma is rather more technical and excludes these with out the right statistical information. Once I requested a Six Sigma chief how he engaged his workers within the enchancment course of, he replied, "Staff are requested to finish a verify sheet to file high quality metrics." Nowhere had been workers requested to contribute their concepts on the way to enhance the standard of a product or course of. Since a enterprise can not afford to have all of its workers full Six Sigma coaching, only a few can interact within the course of past accumulating baseline information.

With Lean, workers in any respect ranges can instantly play an vital function in creating and implementing their suggestions. Your finest consultants are the workers who do the day-to-day work.

5. It retains pointless processes.

In my expertise, lots of Six Sigma enchancment initiatives are pushed on processes that Lean would attempt to get rid of as a result of they shouldn't exist. Lean frequently asks, "Am I doing issues proper or am I doing the best issues?"

The primary factor is:

90% of the issues most companies face will be solved with Lean, because it provides a wider vary of instruments to handle varied conditions.
Corporations ought to by no means attempt to merge Lean and Six Sigma collectively, as this derails Lean efforts.
Six Sigma should be used strategically for particular issues.
A complete tradition doesn’t need to be created round Six Sigma. Do you keep in mind what occurred to GE? Jack Welch admitted that Six Sigma shouldn't be utilized in each nook of the group.

As you face even more durable occasions to place your small business in favor of your workers, prospects, and shareholders, don't make the error of complicated your self by making an attempt to merge Lean and Six Sigma.

Mark DeLuzio is a pioneer of Lean and the principal architect of the Danaher Enterprise System (DBS). As a trusted advisor to world organizations, he helps leaders assume otherwise about the way to optimize enterprise system-wide. His new ebook is "Flatlined: Why Lean Transformations Fail and What to Do About It". Study extra at markdeluzio.com and leanhorizons.com.

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