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Six Sigma in 90 Days: The Initiative, the Deployment, the Technology

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One of the most important competencies an organization can develop is that of driving change. Six Sigma is a management system for handling change within your organization. This chapter will provide you with an overview of the different dimensions of Six Sigma.
This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

As Larry Bossidy, with whom I worked while at AlliedSignal (now Honeywell), points out in his excellent book, Confronting Reality (with Ram Charan), one of the most important competencies an organization can develop is that of driving change. Most organizations find leading change is a very difficult proposition. Larry asserts that, for a company to become good at driving change, it must train itself to drive change.

The change initiative is the building block to driving change. Your company will be reinvented one initiative at a time if each initiative is launched successfully. Larry Bossidy, while CEO of AlliedSignal, preceded the Six Sigma initiative with two smaller initiatives: Total Quality Management (TQM) and Total Quality for Speed (TQS). Using these first two initiatives, he taught the $14 billion company how to launch initiatives. But even Larry would probably admit that the Six Sigma launch was the quickest and deepest of the initiatives launched in AlliedSignal at the time.

The purpose of this chapter is to provide you with an overview of the different dimensions of Six Sigma. I will present the following dimensions:

  • Six Sigma—the initiative
  • Six Sigma—the alignment
  • Six Sigma—the discipline
  • Six Sigma—leadership development
  • Six Sigma—the methodology
  • The Six Sigma playbook

I assume you are interested in deploying Six Sigma for a number of reasons. First, you are interested—perhaps because you are the senior leader—in launching a Six Sigma program to transform your organization. Or, maybe you have recently been chosen to lead this mysterious program for your company, and you want to know more about it. You may want to sell the idea of launching Six Sigma to your senior leadership team and you need more specifics. You’ve read about Six Sigma and talked to peers in other companies about it. You’ve got a lot of unanswered questions to be answered before you can feel comfortable. You want to understand the resources required, your time requirements, and the cost of the program. You want to clarify the milestones and actions necessary to produce a model program launch.

I will assume you have a reasonably good strategy. You’ve surrounded yourself with good people and you have a good instinct about what needs to get done. But you can’t quite get your organization to turn the corner. This book is meant for you. Launching a Six Sigma initiative will serve as the impetus your company needs to start the journey from being good to being great. But, even more importantly, following this roadmap to launching Six Sigma in 90 days will ensure a very quick implementation with a 99.99996 percent (i.e., Six Sigma accuracy) chance for success.

And, finally, you want a forecast of the potential measurable impact on your organization’s growth and productivity. You also understand that undertaking a major initiative aimed at redefining your organization is a very risky business. You certainly don’t want to be known as a leader who has produced yet another program of the month (though every program I’ve seen has lasted more than a month—shoot, sometimes up to six months).

You are an organizational leader who struggles to move your organization to a new level of performance. Your company’s productivity does not represent the typical productivity in your markets and is not where it needs to be. To add to all that, you’re not growing fast enough. You are facing challenges ranging from global competition in the corporate arena to greatly reduced government support in the nonprofit arena. Your organization does many things well, but there seems to be something missing on which you can’t quite put your finger.

Understanding that you’re paid to make money for your company, defeat your competitors, and stimulate them to play in other markets, every good leader dreams of creating a culture that will do just that. You probably did not rise to where you are in your organization by allowing your competitors to hammer you day in and day out. The global rate of economic change is so intense that you feel you must prepare your organization to quickly recognize market changes and react quickly to invent new business models to achieve competitive advantage.

In the heat and pressure of competitive change, you must build an organization that will drive change quickly. You would love to create a new core competency that would allow your company to quickly invent and execute new business models. Because competition is hot and winning is important to the livelihood of all your employees, I have created a playbook with which you can launch a major performance-enhancing initiative—Six Sigma.

But, at the end of the day, your vision embodies the idea of leaving a legacy of an organization where

  • Every employee understands the company’s business, goals, and vision.
  • Every employee knows how he or she contributes to the company.
  • Every employee knows how to improve their processes.
  • Every employee knows how to solve problems.
  • Every function works together seamlessly.

This book is based on over 17 years of direct Six Sigma experience and work with over 45 corporations over the last 8 years. We have experienced the entire continuum ranging from world-class Six Sigma launches (AlliedSignal, 3M, Cummins, and Celanese) to launches bordering on the mediocre.

Many Dimensions of Six Sigma

Six Sigma has many faces. Surprisingly, little of the benefits of Six Sigma have to do with the statistical techniques that are often associated with it. While in its simplest definition—a methodology that focuses on processes to improve growth and productivity—Six Sigma is much richer than a set of advanced statistical tools. Let’s look at the value proposition for Six Sigma from your point of view, that of a leader. I will address Six Sigma as a

  • Change initiative.
  • Method of aligning actions to strategy.
  • Driver for operational discipline.
  • Leadership development program.
  • Methodology.
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