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What Does It Take To Sustain A Successful Six Sigma Program?

Posted by Steven Brand

Fotolia_117581993_Subscription_Monthly_M.jpgThe implementation of a Six Sigma program in your manufacturing company can be the game-changer in your business. But what does it cost to make it a sustainable success?

Understanding Six Sigma

There has been plenty written about Six Sigma since it was introduced in 1986 by Bill Smith while working at Motorola. Here is a quick and comprehensive overview of this philosophy of continuous improvement.

Once you have a good grasp of Six Sigma (6 Ϭ) and are familiar with its intricacies, it’s time to determine what implementation factors are applicable to your organization. There could be various costs associated with implementing Six Sigma, starting at fairly minor certification fees and going up to hiring an expert to adopt changes to your organizational structure. More significant costs could come with a radical adaptation of the philosophy, which may include investing in new technologies and an introduction of a comprehensive training program.

“Is it right for me?”

Throughout the years, major companies such as GE, Honeywell, Motorola and more have reported saving billions after implementing Six Sigma methodologies.

But will Six Sigma work for your company? Have manufacturers ever gone wrong adopting it? While Six Sigma has been proven to work, it is possible to mishandle adoption of the philosophy. Here are some things to consider:

While Six Sigma has been proven to work, it's possible to mishandle adoption. Be sure to keep these things in mind #sixsigma

Stay Committed

New things are usually exciting. But it’s human nature to revert to old ways. Six Sigma may not be worth the investment unless the new way of doing things takes hold within your company. Keep an expert on hand to sustain long term goals. Additionally, you’ll want to see a spike in production output and/or profits to ensure that the program is sustainable.. If that’s cost-prohibitive, you may consider retaining the expert part time over an extended period to make sure that their influence is felt throughout all of your teams.

Incentivize Performance Appraisals

Studies point out that employees who adopt improvement procedures will likely revert back to old ways unless they are incentivized to maintain their improved performance. Even modest incentives based on improved performance should maintain their excitement for retaining Six Sigma procedures.

Limit Members and Time Lengths for Projects

Experience has shown that the smaller the team and the shorter the duration of the project, the more likely new Six Sigma implementations will have an impact on an organization. Larger teams and longer projects provide more opportunities for distraction. Limit teams to a maximum of nine members, with projects lasting no longer than eight weeks.

Executive Involvement is Important

When senior management merely support improvement projects and aren’t actively engaged in them, it’s easy for a Six Sigma program to lose steam. In order to be successful, Senior Management must be actively involved with promoting the Six Sigma program on a constant basis throughout the organization.

Successful implementation of Six Sigma methodologies within your organization can ensure significant product quality improvements. But a haphazard approach is certain to cost your company both time and money with little return on investment. Use the tips outlined above as guiding principles during your Six Sigma implementation and check out our Six Sigma Quality ebook below for a deeper dive into successfully adopting the Six Sigma methodologies.

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Topics: Lean Manufacturing, Quality

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