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Is Six Sigma a Proactive or Reactive Change?

published on July 22, 2011

As Six Sigma is a quality management tool many professionals have a staunch opinion that Six Sigma is a reactionary tool thereby limiting its effectiveness.  Thinking about this begs the question is it proactive or reactionary? To get to the bottom of this we have to think about what the terms mean for business.

Reactive change management is how your organization reacts to something outside of the organization, think of a client directive or an external public relations disaster.  Reactive change is basically change that would not occur unless something prompted it. Proactive change management occurs when management initiates changes to achieve an organizational goal or objective.  These are changes that happen to ensure a long term strategic goal is met. So which one does Six Sigma fall under?

The answer really is that it can be both; because it is a tool, it can be employed in either circumstance and management will ultimately determine how it is applied. Ideally Six Sigma would be used in preventative capacity, but it can and is used as a reactionary tool. When deciding which area to use Six Sigma, consider these questions:

1. Why is this change necessary?

2. Does this situation need a permanent or an immediate solution?

3. How much time can I devote to solving this challenge?

4. Do I have the resources necessary to allow for a testing and analysis phase?

 So much of the success of Six Sigma depends on how it is understood and implemented; asking these four questions can determine if Six Sigma is the right solution for your organization.

published on July 22, 2011


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