This week I want to continue helping you build a Six Sigma framework in your organization to ensure that your Six Sigma effort continues without frustration and lack of focus.
Decide your level of commitment to cross-functional teams
Much like Six Sigma itself, cross-functional teams are not appropriate for every situation. Before your Six Sigma effort begins, get the leadership together and decide if you will use cross-functional teams. If cross-functional teams are appropriate, the work is not done. Get together the people that will make up the teams and decide who will do what, who they will report to whom and how they will be measured for success or failure.
Define your transition timelines
The easiest part of Six Sigma is defining your metrics; one of the hardest parts is determining how to transition between phases. Many Six Sigma efforts become stagnant because a lot of organizations leave a lot of discretion in establishing transition timelines, I think this is a mistake. While the best strategies are fluid, there does need to be some concrete milestones and transition deadlines should be one of them. This finite point gives your team direction and the ability to gauge their progress.
Decide whether Six Sigma will be a central or decentralized function
I believe that embracing Six Sigma needs to begin with the organizational culture, having said that, it’s nuts to think that you can just walk into an organization and roll out Six Sigma. Some things have to be done incrementally, because change scares a lot of people and Six Sigma is no different. If you have an organization that readily accepts new ideas and new strategies, then I would give the go ahead to implement the changes company wide. If your organization is steeped in tradition and accepting is not how you would describe it, a decentralized approach is the route you want to go.
Taking a decentralized route does not mean that you abandon gaining acceptance, it’s quite the opposite. If you have an organization that requires a decentralized approach, you are going to have to put extra time and effort into explaining and demonstrating 6Sigma to the rest of the organization. It’s important that you get that support for your effort because that support will determine the success or failure of your effort.
Next week we will continue creating a Six Sigma framework and summarize everything we have covered.
You can continue reading along with part three in the Six Sigma Strategy Series.
This blog post comes out of a recent conversation about Six Sigma specifics. I was discussing a Six Sigma engagement and the client asked to see specific experience in Kaizen. Kaizen is a Japanese word for improvement, for Six Sigma purposes it means continuous improvement. To be categorized as a Six Sigma project, the project will inherently be improvement focused.
When looking for specialized service, the temptation is to use the acronyms and jargon is pretty normal, but beware sometimes using these terms only highlights your lack of knowledge to unscrupulous consultants. To shift the knowledge paradigm back to the customers here are a few basic 6Sigma terms and what they mean.
Six Sigma Belts
This refers to the level of the Six Sigma professional running your project. Yellow is the lowest level of expertise and Master Black Belt is the highest level of expertise. I break down each belt and the belt responsibilities in my blog post ‘What’s in a Belt”?
Continuous Improvement Methodology
Six Sigma is a management methodology and as you consult experts you will hear them talk about continuous improvement methodologies as they try to impress you with facts and figures. What you need to know is 6Sigma is one of many improvement methodologies. The key to improvement methodologies is to finding one that works well with the internal culture of your organization.
This simply refers to the lean projects your organization has attempted or completed. This phrase usually shows up when a consultant or an organization is analyzing the ROI in lean projects. When you hear or see this phrase, what you are looking for is a summary of the projects and their respective results.
These are lean projects tailored to produce immediate or near immediate results. Now from my prospective rapid and lean are mutually exclusive, but any tweak to a process can create improvements. Organizations should be aware that fast improvements typically are not sustainable improvements and rapid deployments need to have a near perfect implementation. If you are in the operations field you probably work on the basis of Murphy’s Law so you’ll have realistic expectations; for the other fields there is no such thing as a magic bullet. There are changes that can be made but a process is a very fragile thing and any change even the most subtle ones, can wreak havoc to an improvement project.
So these are the terms that you will probably hear thrown around regarding Six Sigma and as you delve deeper into the methodology you will hear more complicated terms. The key to Six Sigma is understanding that it isn’t this archaic, complicated methodology.
If you have a question about it, I have an answer.
As I cover some of the methods used in to measure quality in Six Sigma, I wanted to hit on determining what defines quality and apply to a usable example. The method I want to talk about today is the Critical to Quality Tree (QTC). QTC is tool that helps the organization determine what is critical to its success. There are four basic steps in creating a QTC:
Identify the customer
This may not seem like rocket science but it is actually the most missed guess of businesses. When I say identify the customer, I mean take a step back and really look at who buys your products or services. The most commons buyers are your customer base, they may not be who you want but they are the most frequent users so build your products and services around their needs.
Identify the customer’s needs
What customers need and what they want are two very different things. In this step you have to identify what the customer needs to be satisfied. For example if you are a cell phone manufacturer,your customer needs to have a product that at the very least allows them to place and receive calls.
Identify the 1st set of customer requirements.
The first set of requirements should be identified as basic/threshold attributes, these are products features that your customers will just assume to be present and if they’re not the customers will be dissatisfied. These features are the most important because they are the basic product requirements, think of them as the foundation of the house.
Identify the 2nd set of customer requirements and try to take that to another level of specialty.
This set of requirements will occur in two areas: performance attributes and exciters/delighters. Performance attributes are features that are directly related to customer satisfaction. An example of this would be a 10 second or less hold time for customer service representatives. An exciter/delighter is a feature that delights the customer and leads to high satisfaction, but won’t affect satisfaction if it isn’t present. These are the requirements that create aesthetic value and are mostly present for a wow factor.
Once you have completed those four steps, you’re ready to move on to creating the tree. So, what does a Critical to Quality Tree Look Like? An example of the CTQ is below.
This example is a way to help your organization began the conversation of what the customer’s values and how the organization can create processes that nurture that value. This is not a step by step guide, but it should be able to help you begin to lay the foundation.