Properly Implementing the Six Sigma Methodology

In my last article, we discussed Strategic Planning and Six Sigma. This process begins with stakeholders, board members, and senior leaders identifying long-range plans for the organization. Within that planning process, we discussed crucial elements for the strategic plan, which incorporates the Six Sigma methodology. Once a strategic plan is completed, it then lays out a roadmap for the future success of the organization 

This article will follow up and discuss effective Six Sigma planning and the elements required to ensure that the organization’s strategic plan will be implemented correctly. 

Understanding The Why

Success is driven by the why! Great leaders and organizations understand that everything you do daily is driven by the why. It is the reason we get up in the morning and get busy, working with a laser focus on achieving our goals. The why drives everything with an organization. The why comes directly from the strategic plan and goals. Everyone in the organization should clearly understand the “why,” and that why should light the fire. 

This folds directly into the implementation of Six Sigma projects. Six Sigma leaders must be the torchbearers for the organization. Likewise, stakeholders, board members, and senior leaders must passionately believe and have confidence in their Six Sigma leaders and the methodology. There cannot be any fractures or riffs between the two. This alliance will clearly communicate to the organization that they are all in and committed to nothing less than success.

Get the Resources Allocated

The strategic plan outlines and forecasts funding for projects, which includes support of a Six Sigma operation. Getting the resources allocated and in place begins with staffing your resources. I will outline the basic structure of the staffing structure for Six Sigma operations.

Six Sigma Champion – Your champion is just that! He or she is the champion for the entire operation and is the connection between stakeholders, board members, and senior leadership to the Master Black Belt in charge. Your Champion is your voice at the top.

Master Black Belt – They are the subject matter expert and advisor to the Champion and the Six Sigma team. A Master Black Belt will provide coaching and mentoring of team members, along with oversight and governance of Six Sigma projects.

Black Belt – An experienced Six Sigma Green Belt who leads teams members and supervises the day-to-day operations. They also coach and mentor team members and have supervisory responsibilities.

Green Belt – Experienced Six Sigma operator who runs the day-to-day operations and projects of a Six Sigma team, with oversight responsibilities of White and Yellow Belt team members.

White & Yellow Belt – Basic Six Sigma team members with various levels of experience in Sigma Sigma methodology and completes day-to-day work tasks and assignments.

The structure of the Six Sigma team will be dictated by the needs and focus of the organization and the strategic plan. Along with staffing, training for staff also needs to be considered. 

Fanatics About Methodology

Six Sigma team members and leaders must be committed and passionate about the strategic plan, but also the capabilities of their team and Six Sigma methodologies. Hiring Six Sigma team members must be done carefully. You have to find that person who has the passion, drive and skill sets to deliver a final product and embody the standards throughout the organization. Six Sigma team members must be change agents and be seen as that throughout the organization.  

Change is one of the most challenging things a human can do. Six Sigma team members must be compassionate and understanding individuals while achieving the strategic goals. This is a delicate balance to strike, but crucial to the success of the organization and the Six Sigma team.

Governance and Accountability 

The Six Sigma team must be seen throughout the organization, in all actions, as above reproach. This means simply that we unwaveringly follow the rules, regulations, and guidelines of the organization, along with local, state, and federal law. The integrity of each and every team member must never be questioned.  

This leads directly into accountability. Every member of a Six Sigma team must be held accountable, and it begins with those team members willing to be held accountable. One cannot impose their will over people who refuse to do so or are unwilling to be compliant with governance. 

Leadership begins at the top! Six Sigma leaders must be willing to be held accountable and willing to hold others accountable to a very high standard. This means that they do not accept excuses, and they set goals and standards that are within the strategic plans of the organization. Great leaders never blame, shift responsibility or delegate ownership. They must own it! 

Celebrate Success

One of the most crucial parts of implementing Six Sigma within an organization is celebrating success. At key milestones during projects and of course, at the culmination, success needs to be widely communicated and celebrated. The story of success should be told and celebrated down to the lowest levels of the organization. The work of the Six Sigma team could never have been possible without the support and cooperation of the regular line employee, who your project directly impacted. Thank them! Recognize them! Celebrate them!

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