The Pyramid: A Hierarchical Model for Understanding the Challenges
The organizational and structural challenges faced by governments in setting up Six Sigma can best be represented in a hierarchical model in the shape of a pyramid. A pyramid comprised of the base, internal angles, and the apex, must be properly aligned to support Six Sigma methodology in the public sector.
The Base of the Pyramid: Public Perception
Pyramids are built from the ground level up and must have solid foundations to stand the test of time and remain viable organizational structures. The success of initiating Six Sigma in the public sector is dependent upon building positive public perception of the projects to be improved. However, unlike businesses in the private sector whose customer base is well defined, a government’s customer base is much broader and includes taxpayers who may not directly benefit from the improvements identified by the methodology. Convincing taxpayers who are concerned about excessive government spending of the need for Six Sigma can be a challenging task.
To initially address these concerns, governments need to effectively communicate the expected benefits and savings resulting from the improvement initiatives. A great example of a government effectively communicating with its taxpaying customer base can be found on the website of the City of Fort Wayne, Indiana. In listing its Six Sigma initiatives, the city includes a description of the quality problem, introduces the members of the Six Sigma team, and details the solution and the calculated savings, thus introducing credibility and accountability for each project. For governments considering Six Sigma, choosing the right project to launch is critically important. Governments should first identify and choose projects which will appeal to a large segment of its taxpaying customer base. For instance, one of the first projects indertaken by Fort Wayne was to improve its pothole repair response time, which became an instant hit with the city's customers, thus creating a positive public perception of Six Sigma.