Debugging Six Sigma

SixSigmaIf you don’t know what Six Sigma is about, read this Wikipedia-article first.

I had some discussions lately about sense or nonsense of Six Sigma. Part of the information flooding today is that there are a lot more variations of “best practices”. So I do not disagree with Six Sigma, but there’s two points you should keep in mind with their or any other best practices. They are guidelines. Not a panacea. And with all such best practices, they are about what you make out of them.

For Six Sigma especially, there is a point I found far to strictly adhered to: The financial focus.
In most jobs I have done in my life, I was the fire fighter for managers who did not understand the value of a fire fighter. Because a fire fighter is paid like an insurance. You are happy if you never need it.
We call it the Saint-Florian-principle:

Oh dear holy Saint Florian,
Don’t burn my house
take the other one…

automationThere are many such jobs in any company, but that’s the jobs, most often the first ones being cut by Six Sigma disciples. Service, support. They are cost factors, they do nothing but cover for the mistakes done up front. As there must be no mistakes, there’s no need for service and support. It’s a very typical trend for any company where managing responsibility is transferred from the entrepeneur to the finance, money driven folks.
Good ideas are declined as they are risky and you got to believe in the idea. Speaking to the financial guys, my experience is that you hit a brick wall. The same is true if you talk about “non-essential” services. Like service. And my experience is that the entrepeneur has a total different understanding of Six Sigma or other such best practice principles, than financial bean counters.

So it is not about Six Sigma or not, but what you make out of it! I think, we just learn, what bean counters got and get us into. I call it greed and fear. “CYA”: Cover your ass. I learned that from a CEO with finance background. I may live better if I would live their way. But I sleep far better trying something and standing up for my own mistakes.

What a chance the U.S. to have a president-elect who is creative and open to change = risk? I hope the focus of companies shifts from a conservatory play-it-safe back to a search for creative new ideas and do some trial. Sure, not everything will work out. But I predict: The survivors are the ones that move.

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