Six sigma implementation - Six Sigma

In order to be effectively implemented, Six Sigma needs to be treated as a strategic priority. To understand what this means we need to define some terms:

  • Strategy: Is a plan of action to achieve organizational goals, usually related to performance in the market place.
  • Strategic Management: is the development, deployment and execution of strategic plans. It involves the development of organizational mission, vision, values and goals; the development of policies and plans, their execution and evaluation.

Six Sigma has often been used effectively as a tactical approach to address some of the levers of competition. This would mean reductions in cost or improvements in the quality of product or service delivered to the customer (effectively reduction in DPMO and variation in Critical to Quality aspects of the product or service). However, the strategic potential is far greater, strategically Six Sigma has the potential to help organizations develop what Ulrich and Lake (1991) called “Organizational Capability”.

They argue that traditional sources of competitive advantage revolving round marketing capability, technological capability and financial capability are relatively transient and easy to copy. Organizational Capability however allows an organization to change and adapt as required by the changing world. The four key areas are:

  • Leadership
  • capacity for learning and improvement
  • Tacit knowledge and skills
  • Mind-set and organizational culture

“Far from being harmless, as some executives assume, they’re often highly destructive. Empty values statements create cynical and dispirited employees, alienate customers, and undermine managerial credibility.” Lencioni, P.M. (2002)


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