November 17, 2010

6S – getting it right (with a hint of PMI)

Six Sigma is a long journey with many steps and milestones thought on the way. In order to get it right, some authors of journal papers identified a few key issues called ‘critical success factors’ which have to be identified and managed in order to perform a successful implementation.

One of the initial CSF that needs to be looked at is management involvement and commitment. Like in every project there is a need for leadership and Six Sigma is not an exception. Involvement is showed by continuous support and belief in the project. Basically this means that managers have to monitor progress by participating in both reviews of on-going projects but have to take part in the team activities (however, mainly as witnesses). This results in better cognition of the improvement, better appreciation for efforts and results.
Secondly, without managerial approval no project can be started as there will be no resources for that. This in turn shows us the importance of Project Sponsors as we were able to see during the PMI e-learning course. Their role is to come to an agreement with the project team and support them by providing with resources and holding regular meetings.

Six Sigma project is obviously a huge step for the company and as everything that is ‘new’ and breakthrough it is scary and unknown at the same time. This issue is highly linked with the cognition of change. The change needs to be efficiently communicated within the company so that everyone is familiar with it. There is a high demand for appropriate change management in order to introduce it as an opportunity to improve and excel, not as a way of making lives harder.
There are many way to deal with the resistance to change but as we could see in the PMI a good starting point is to explain the reasons for change and expected benefits. In the Presto pizza example it was oversimplified as everyone from the project team accepted the change with no hesitation, but again it has to be stressed that everything depends on the company’s current working environment and people are the main subject while considering the change.

There are some more critical factors but those are the most interesting to me. It's good to see that we had some evidence of that during PMI course and now althought we might not be fully aware of that, we can benefit from that and build based on that learning during the class.
Such introduction courses seem to be efficient since as we are expected to study at home most of the time anyway, now we're going through the same research (I'm talking about the content, because I bet we'll get 30 different opinions in class next week :P) so our in-class studying will be efficient.

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