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December 30, 2015
Six Sigma has the potential to contribute to organisational learning, although there are other factors need to work as well in terms of a successful implementation, such as team work, employee engagement/involvement, shared knowledge and ideas, motivation, effective communication and leadership, commitment from all the members of the organisation and so on. The implementation of Six Sigma projects must be aligned with the organisation's strategy, goals, mission and vision. It should rather a long-term investment than a short-term one. The behaviours of Black Belts and Master Black Belts are crucial in the successful implementation of Six Sigma programmes by influencing all the employees, forming the team and leading the change in the organisation. However, organisational learning can be relatively limited depending on the Belt system, leadership, organisational culture and the motivation of the organisational members.
The top management plays a key part in the creation of the right working environment, involving all the members of the organisation and engaging them to be committed to learning. The top management has to deal with the resistance of change by motivating all the employees, promoting effective staff meetings and encouraging organisational learning, respectively, providing training opportunities.
All in all, Six Sigma is quite rigid, and all the critical success factors must be met in order to work as a mechanism for organisational learning by eliminating all the failures and limitations.
December 27, 2015
The elements of Six Sigma and organisational learning can be found in Deming's SOPK that has four parts (appreciation for a system, knowledge about variation, theory of knowledge, psychology), all related to each other.
Six Sigma can contribute to organisational learning as a mechanism if Black Belts and Master Black Belts have clear understanding about the theory of knowledge and psychology of Deming's SOPK approach. Six Sigma has the potential to contribute to organisational learning that can be seen in Dixon's organisational learning cycle (widespread generation of information; integration of new/local information into the organisational context; collectively interpreting the information; authority to take responsible action based on the interpreted meaning). We can see that they are all related to each other.
Six Sigma is a learning process by incorporating the goal's of the company into its system, by sharing new ideas and experiences, by involving statistical knowledge and analysis. Six Sigma is a useful tool to encourage learning so as to achieve competitive advantage. The right training of Black Belts and Master Black Belts is vital in a successful Six Sigma implementation. According to Sony and Naik (2012), Six Sigma can promote organisational learning by boosting all the company members' commitment to learning, shared vision and open-mindedness. Gutierrez et al (2012) state that Six Sigma contains teamwork which is one of its major characteristics. The absorptive capacity of the organisation with teamwork and process management through shared vision, mission, goals and common language between the participants can be resulted in organisational learning. Consequently, the implementation of Six Sigma may provide a mechanism to support organisational learning.
Although, there are some counter-arguments against the potential of Six Sigma to contribute to organisational learning. For example, the 'Belt' system can ignore all the members of the organisation, the 'human' issues can be ignored as well that can obstruct learning. The goal of the managers tend to focus more on gaining profit rather than organisational learning. The cultural change, the lack of manager's ownership, the low motivational level of the members, poor leadership and so on can all hinder the effective implemetation of organisational learning, respectively, organisational learning. What's more, Six Sigma can be a very expensive investment of an organisation. Therefore, it is more popular amongst multinational companies rather than SMEs.
To sum up, the opinions of different authors about Six Sigma and organisational lerning is contradictory, therefore we cannot clearly state that the implementation of Six Sigma either support or obstruct as a mechanism for organisational learning. In order to make sure that it works as a mechanism, all the critical success factors of six sigma must be met.
December 20, 2015
In order to see if Six Sigma support or inhibit as a mechanism for organisational learning, we need to see the failures and limitations of both as well.
Some companies fail to succeed Six Sigma programmes because of its wrong implemetation for instance. Lots of different factors can contribute to the failure of Six Sigma. For example, it can be the working environment, the organisational culture, the competence of the employees, their knowledge and skills, the lack of top management involvement, commitment or attitude, the lack of training, lack or resources, poor prioritization, poor communication, low motivation level, resistance of change, lack of employee engagement, lack of efficient leadership, no accountability, and so on.
The main problems of organisational learning can be the followings: to move from individual learning to organisational learning, defensive reaction amongst employees - resistance of change, poor communication, conflicts between short-term or long-term goals, behaviour of the managers/employees/Black Belt-Master Black Belt experts, changes in the organisational structure, organisational politics, lack of motivation, lack of team spirit and so on.
So how Six Sigma can support as a mechanism for organisational learning despite of both limitations and failures?
December 17, 2015
Six Sigma is a disciplined, statistical, project-oriented approach and improvement methodology to reduce costs, waste and defects in an organisation, respectively, to increase its profitability.
Organisational learning is a process that develops better knowledge and understanding thanks to shared ideas and teamwork.
So the main question is that how six sigma can support organisational learning?
It can be clearly seen that Six Sigma is a learning process thanks to the DMAIC approach which is based on Deming's PDSA.
Although, the bureaucratic system of Black Belts and Master Black Belts could effect organisational learning depending on their behaviour and engagement towards other employees in an organisation. Master Black Belts are on the top of the hierarchy and they train and coach Black Belts and Green Belts. Master Black Belts and Black Belts are responsible for the leadership of Six Sigma programme on both project and business level. Black Belts lead problem-solving projects by developing strategies to reduce costs and defects while increase profitability and competitive advantage. They provide training to Green Belts who can help Black Belts with the data collection and analysis of the project.
The success of Six Sigma towards organisational learning highly depends on its implementation by the organisation. Has the organisation got short-term or long-term goal? Does the organisation care only about its profitability or also the improvement of the organisational learning?