It is always good to know what potential pros and cons you can expect from approach, method, or tool you would like to use. This article will help you tounderstand with positives and negatives six sigma method can potentialy bring to you, your team, and your organization.
this article covers:
- Six Sigma potential for every-body
- Advantages of Six Sigma method
- Disadvantages of Six Sigma
- Main Six Sigma takeaways
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Six Sigma potential for every-body
Lean six sigma, is a great method. This statement I can prove by many projects, and improvements I did using it during last almost 10 years.
There are many advantages using method. Even beginner can follow its steps, and do powerfull positive changes.
But I have to honestly say, that six sigma can bring some disadvantages too.
Here is a link to download project charter template for your usage, with the brief description of each section.
Advantages of Six Sigma method
- Six sigma is proven methodology. People tempt to do significant changes, jumping to solutions, without understanding its real root cause. By following method steps, you can improve any failing process.
- With that comes second advantage: it applies to any industry, to any business. From manufacturing to planning, from warehouse to supply chain, from engineering to HR, from health care to food business.
- It helps to make work easier. Well, you do not need any training to do changes and improve your work by identifying wastes and eliminating them. But when things gets complicated, logical method steps are simplifying large problems.
- Six sigma supports data driven decisions. What ever you do, understand data, and decide what is the best solution for it. You will not be able do any correct decisions without this step.
- Efficiency increase by errors and wastes elimination leads to cost savings. So, you can do more, by the same amount of effort and energy. Result can be making more money with the same effort.
I can continue with more positives, but these are the top ones, that I truly believe, you will see immediately after finalizing any improvement. Try to limit your focus on smaller projects, if you are not full time dedicated project leader.
Download DMAIC tools list, If you would like to follow proven method and tools to improve any process, I strongly suggest allways to use.
Disadvantages of Six Sigma
It would not be honest to not mention some disadvantages of using six sigma, as mentioned earlier.
- Only about 25% of trained people are really using method. What a huge waste of time and money. I see this everywhere, even in the companies, that have strong six sigma structure. I suggest for process owners to encourage their subordinates to work on processes. Try to people working in processes, especially yellow belts, and green belts, involve on improvement activities.
- Seems to be longer time taking method. This comes with jumping to solution right away. Data collection, team discussions, convincing stakeholders about changes takes time. But it worth it, because you are sure, you address real root cause.
- Only 1 man cannot do changes. To sustain changes, for more obvious cost savings, and faster improvements, at least some small lean six sigma organization will be needed. That needs investments for trainings, time for developing people, and strong management support. Leaders must be convinced, that this method worth it to use. However, even one person using method can influence others and give great examples.
- It can increase costs by overusing. Six sigma is quality improvement process. And addressing quality issues can lead to countermeasures so drastic that it is very difficult to run process. Be careful and always find compromise between quality and its cost. Real customers requirements understanding can help with right process set up.
- Too much data generating. It can also happen, that while putting process under better control, we create more and more performance indicators. They tempt to be like a good ones, but we get lost in understanding them. As in previous point, try to understand real customers expectations, what output indicators are reacting on them. Direct your focus on these indicators.
- Seeking perfection is my last potential negative. It happens all the time, that we get stuck on addressing all issues. And the main problem still remains while we are trying to resolve not relevant issues. Pareto analysis can help direct improving team on addressing most relevant issues.
Hope, these honest thoughts can help you to overcome problems created by using six sigma. And you can become well versed in using method right way. Because it is really great method to use.
95% of the time I do not use it, at all. I do not like statistics. I do not like collecting data. Yes, there is a measure and analyze phase. But it only sounds terrible. In our example, cooks were able to drive changes. And they used watches to measure, and logic, that told them where to improve.
Key takeaways about Six Sigma DMAIC:
- It is a robust process improvement method
- It is a team effort on not obvious problem reason resolution
- There are 5 phases – Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control
- Improvement targeted based on data analysis
- Reduces variation in processes, in other words , repeatability is improved
- First understand current problems and pains to enable improvement changes
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Yours sincerely Erik.