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All people in the organization are responsible for quality improvement
Quality improvement through Six Sigma is not a team or department responsibility; it is really more of concept — a movement for collaboration and change. And that is only possible to the extent that change-minded people and organizations are part of the work.
One of the many benefits of Six Sigma is how it helps to develop people. The dual processes of Six Sigma training and Six Sigma projects cultivate excellence in not only product quality and financial savings but also in the knowledge, confidence, and quality of the people in your organization. People are, after all, your organizations' most valuable assets. To sustain and continuously improve, an organization needs to develop its people. Six Sigma helps to develop people in two areas: it develops leaders and it empowers people to be knowledgeable and valuable contributors to the organization's success.
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Leadership and resource needs to be given by top management
From the onset of Six Sigma deployment in an organization, top management must be involved. There are five key roles of top management in a Six Sigma environment:
- Be actively involved from outset
- Develop a strategic plan
- Establish Roles and Infrastructure
- Establish supporting policies
- Select projects
- Prioritize projects and allocate resources
- Facilitate, guide, manage
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Data must be used to support and verify the success of the improvement initiative
Emphasis on the gathering and use of objective data on system or process performance is an incremental to the success on any Six Sigma. Data are needed to analyze processes, identify problems/barriers, and measure performance. Changes can then be tested and the resulting data analyzed to verify that the changes have actually led to improvements.
As Mikel Harry, in his most recent book entitled Six Sigma: The Management Strategy Revolutionizing the World's Top Corporations says, “It is only by measuring that we can know the value of something, and we can’t improve what we don’t measure." Without measurement there is no way to know how a process is performing, therefore no way to improve it.
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Customer satisfaction is a critical measure for business improvement
Customer-driven quality means anticipating, meeting, and exceeding customer requirements and preventing customer dissatisfaction. Quality is a moving target that is defined or judged by the customer. Services must be designed with Six Sigma quality to meet the needs and requirements of consumers being served. By listening to the “Voice of the Customer," organizations gain valuable information to drive improvement initiatives, design and implement new services, support the improvement of outcomes for consumers and brand name recognition for the organization.
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Resistance to change must be actively managed
Without the acceptance of employees, Six Sigma process improvement is bound to fail. Resistance may be shown by employees by ignoring the new process, disagreeing with the benefits, or criticizing the new tools or software applications. Frequent communication about the positive results of any basic changes will help build up faith in change among employees.
The third and final article in this series will offer specific tools and their impact on Six Sigma deployment success.
Top Ten Critical Success Factors for Six Sigma: Part 2
This is the first article in a three-part series that focuses on the the Top Ten Critical Success Factors for Six Sigma.