Everyone, undoubtedly, has had the unenviable honour of experiencing ‘bureaucratic government processes.’ Be it applying for your first ID or passport, to initially obtaining a driving license and the inevitable dealings with the tax man.
Six Sigma has been developed decades ago and fine-tuned by many companies since then. However, there is no ISO standard or something similar guiding the deployment or regulating the certification of the key players, Green Belts or Black Belts. There is only one key requirement that helps distinguish between success and failure: business results.
The easiest task in the journey to deploying Six Sigma or similarly Lean Six Sigma is the training of Green Belts and Black Belts. Many training companies have discovered this gold mine and produce hundreds of Belts every year. For small money, nearly everyone can attend twenty 3-hour evening sessions led by trainers who have hardly run any projects to become a Green Belt including certificate. Taking this certificate, attaching it to the CV and going for the next job application is a question of days.
The job of purchasing is obviously to source for reliable suppliers who deliver products conforming to specification on time within a certain price range. The more data is available about potential suppliers the better the decision will be. However, how shall the data be analysed?
FridgeMaker used to get supplies of a very crucial part, the Spacer, from Supplier X. Unfortunately, over the last months Supplier X has been struggling with waves of reorganisation resulting in unreliable deliveries and hence line stoppages for FridgeMaker.
FridgeMaker is looking for new suppliers for all parts coming from Supplier X. Purchasing has already started the supplier qualification process for the Spacer (10.5 +/-0.3) and has received parts from suppliers A, B and C. The data are shown here. Following this data purchasing can make their decision on price. All of the suppliers meet the requirements set out in the tender document. …
“Don’t use Six Sigma to tackle special cause variation!”
is one of the common phrases being repeated by Lean Six Sigma coaches and a very important recommendation for the management, too.
The Six Sigma methodology is indeed targeting variation that is an inherent part of the process – common cause variation that has been expected and tolerated due to its unknown and supposedly complex root causes. Understanding this variation and analysing the real root causes before implementing improvements is a fundamental pillar of the methodology and driver for its success. …
Against the common belief, statistical knowledge is not a criterion for selecting your Belts. However, the capability to acquire new technical skills, to apply these skills successfully is an important prerequisite. More important is the aptitude to involve, motivate, coach and train people, to lead and manage teams towards delivering results and to communicate effectively with different levels in the organisation.
A study by iSixSigma Magazine about the importance of different skills and characteristics for a successful Black Belt (“The Hard Truth About Soft Skills,” January/February 2008) was showing that Communication Skills is by far the most important requirement. Leadership Skills came in second and Technical Skills third. The question for the importance of Soft Skills for different roles in the Six Sigma deployment was answered by 72% for Green Belts and 99% for Black Belts with important or very important (5-point scale). Soft Skills include Communication, Collaboration, Team Leadership, Change Management, Time Management as most important to the success of the Belt. Continue reading →
In times like this, every penny counts. So, how do we ensure we get the most out of our learning & development dollars spent? Many studies prove what practitioners have known for long: formal training programmes do not deliver the promised ROI – especially when the so-called ‘soft skills’ are concerned. We must find a way to craft a learning experience for our leaders that will really make a change.
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Your Lean Six Sigma initiative has taken off well, project teams led by Belts have done a nice work and results are in. Good job so far?! However, this is the rather easy part of your journey. The more difficult part is about retaining and accelerating the trained Black Belts and Green Belts (Belts).…
An Australian construction equipment rental & leasing firm had decided to implement an Enterprise Resource Planning system in 12 months. During this 12 month period there was an expectation that all front-end services including Sales, Customer Service, Receivables, Payables, would be re-designed to achieve streamlining and simplification prior to ERP implementation.
Operations spanned 18 cities across Australia with many more small ‘re-sellers’ located in the Australian interior or ‘outback’ as it is locally known. Compounding a normal organisational and operational setup was the fact that this firm grew a substantial portion of its business through the acquisition route thus effectively incorporating myriad systems and practices. There were 5 Receivables systems, 4 Payables systems and a decentralized customer service database (more than 200 input platforms) which needed to be tied together to make the ERP implementation work.
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After a Lean programme for inventory was instituted the production facility struggled with getting a good product mix out to the finished goods inventory due to relatively long change-over times for cutting dies. Steel tool (final product) cutting dies need to be replaced after every 4 Kanban batch runs of 225 pieces each.
This frequent changeover, occurring once every hour of work is necessary to maintain and re-sharpen the cutting die’s cutting edges. Current changeover time for the cutting die was approximately 60 minutes and included the use of a single 10 ton forklift though the die weight was 5 tons. Nearly 50% of a working day was ‘wasted’ on changeovers not including the impact of the ‘inability’ to achieve a high vol-ume of product mix for agility to meet with product demand requirements of a Lean pro-gramme.
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Our client, a leading world authority in microelectronics development and research, appointed a senior research fellow to head its entire research and development division. Could the company’s top scientist and academic researcher, who had never managed a staff of more than twenty, make the transition to effectively manage hundreds of people in his division?
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Our client, a US-based IT manufacturing MNC, needed to align the efforts of its seven separate IT divisions and help division leaders think of themselves as part of one culture – one body – one department. Until this point, each leader and unit had been functioning as a separate department. The firm called on COE to help with team effectiveness development.
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A couple of years ago, I was meeting the President of an Asian multi-national mid-sized service company for a Six Sigma Training on Saipan, a nice sunny pacific island south-east of Japan. Together with a colleague we were sitting at the beach, wearing swimming suits and preparing the next days session whilst getting sun-tanned. When the President arrived – he was in shorts and ugly slippers! – we had a casual briefing for the Leadership Team session and the Staff Awareness Sessions we were about to run during that week.
Some well-known companies have been “doing Six Sigma” for years. They keep doing improvement projects in all kinds of business and support processes, rolling it out in Sales and R&D. They are extending the application of Six Sigma to the entire value chain – suppliers and customers – in their drive for sustained performance improvement. They are successful in building the Six Sigma principles into their daily business life and using this powerful approach as a vehicle to drive cultural change.
Other companies pilot improvement initiatives like Six Sigma by running a couple of improvement projects, then recognise that the journey toward improved business results will be a long and difficult one that requires a turn-around in the mindset of managers. A post-mortem analysis of a failed Six Sigma effort usually points to the lack of management commitment and lack of attention to the business and cultural investment needed to reach and sustain new levels of performance. What practical steps can be taken to maintain the focus and drive needed to reap the full benefits that Six Sigma offers?
Globalisation and instant access to information, products and services continue to change the way our customers conduct business.
Today’s competitive environment leaves no room for error. We must delight our customers and relentlessly look for new ways to exceed their expectations. This is why Six Sigma Quality has become a part of our culture. Jack Welch, GE
First, what it is not. It is not a secret society, a slogan or a cliche. Six Sigma is a highly disciplined process that helps all kinds of companies focus on developing and delivering near-perfect products and services.
In the course of meetings, be it Six Sigma project team meetings or management meetings, conflict is inevitable; it is cited as one of the main reasons people dislike working in teams. Team players should find a way to manage conflict since teamwork is a key to success. Team leaders must understand that when two or more people meet, the stage is set for a potential conflict. As such, preparation is essential. Problems can be solved if these are anticipated. If a problem does happen, the result may be positive or negative depending on our approach.
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