Good Example Of Six Sigma Research Paper
The Six Sigma concept is an integral management tool that was developed by the General Electric Company to assist in assessing points of a defect in its manufacturing operations and invest necessary resources to improve productivity ( Linderman, Schroeder, Zaheer & Choo, 2003). Since its inception, the approach has since gained popularity from the industrial sector and further extended to the service industry. Most firms pose the objectives of profit maximization, quality production and cost effectiveness as the key drivers to build a long-term sustainability of a firm in the market over rival companies.
The Six Sigma method delivers its mandate through a statistical formulation that limits the capacity of the manufacturing process to provide high-quality output using the available resources under minimal wastage of qualitative and quantifiable resources. The concept outlines that a successful organization should operate at a 3.4 defects for every million opportunities that convert to a success rate of 99%. Notably, most successful organizations such as Motorola that adopted the measurement approach have succeeded in maintaining the success rate at three defects per a million opportunities thus retaining a consistent performance improvement on output and service delivery. For the Six Sigma process to succeed, a passionate team of top- leadership is necessary to create harmony among the stakeholders in delivering a continuous quality improvement across all sectors in the firm (Wiklund & Wiklund, 2002). Executive managers take the lead in formulating value based management policies that strive to satisfy equally the interest of all stakeholders. For example, the Six Sigma evaluation framework uses the customer’s feedback on the quality of products and services to determining the performance capacity of the firm in the market and ability to maintain a sustainable competitive advantage over rival companies. The department must operate within a given set of standard deviations to achieve maximum productivity on customer’s satisfaction as well as creating a room for improvement.
While the Six Sigma model yielded remarkable results on General Electric’s quality management and productivity, it enhances flexibility for different firms to customize the model based on their departments. This due to the diversity in organization culture and the social culture possessed by different employees. Cultural theorists argued that cultural dimensions among the employees as a major impediment in the organizations strive to maintain effective communication in the workplace and blend their personal attitude with the firm’s performance strategy. Consequently, it is imperative to provide periodic training to the employees and the executive management to facilitate updated communication on the leadership skills, qualitative measures and current trends that enable implementation of the Six Sigma process across all departments.
Implementation of Six Sigma model
The implementation of the six sigma model is structural and principled framework that operates under the DMAIC methodology where successive stages must deliver equally for the company to achieve effective performance across all departments. The DMAIC methodology entails define measurement, analyzing, improvement and controlling phases. It is paramount for the company management to enlighten the employees on the functionality of the model to facilitate credible analysis on the final statistics. The DMAIC tool is distinctively applied on a project by project basis through identification of process that relate to the departments.
The Define phase is the preliminary stage that entails recognition of the process that requires improvement in the addition of resources or re-structuring the performance strategy of the firm. At this stage, the management team blends with the customer needs ranging from products and service delivery. Notably, the phase sets the stage for understanding the level of customer satisfaction and the degree of change in the tastes and preferences (Kwak & Anbari, 2006). For instance, if the target market involves young consumers with a high price and quality responsiveness, the management allocates statistical values that the firm is expected to deliver. Upon identifying the customer needs, the team develops the flow of activities alongside the estimated boundaries within which to operate and attain effective process management.
The measurement phase concentrates on the company’s current strategic plan by collecting and recording statistical data on the plan’s capacity to achieve the set objectives. The team evaluates the collected data to ascertain the current performance of the production stage. Further, the team must undertake a comparison approach as a tactic to recognize the achievement as well as deterrent factors that inhibit maximum performance.
Upon outlining the collected data in a procedural way, the management team endeavors in an in-depth study of the causal effects of the performance discrepancy between capital and labor factors. The analysis is based on the cause of the defects and the interrelationship impact on other factors in the same department (Kwak & Anbari, 2006). The model emphasizes that the culmination of the analysis stage is to roll out possible strategies that could lead to the improvement of the defective areas. The essence of the analysis phase is based on a value chain analysis for the performance strategy is not a static but rather an integration of stages whose performance has an overall effect on the company’s performance. It is imperative for the analysis process to outline the outcome on a priority basis to enhance efficient injection of resources in into the critical stages.
At this stage, the implementation team adopts strategic initiatives aimed at sealing the defective loopholes in a bid to maintain a consistent performance of the production stages. This is the critical process whose primary objective is to bend the policies into the current performance process of the company. Tentatively, the implementation process is subjected to a pilot session that enables the management make a preliminary deduction on the future effectiveness and the capacity to maintain long-term sustainable results. The preliminary results form the basis of further adjustment to the plan to suit the prevailing demands in the respective production process.
Every strategic plan is susceptible to unexpected exogenous factors that derail the anticipated results of a firm. A similar situation is likely to affect the intended effectiveness of the Six Sigma model thus the management team should formulate an integrated strategy to monitor the impact of the model on the overall performance of the company. The controlling process should frequently occur in a consistent periodic gap that would facilitate prompt reaction to defective strategies. Outstandingly, the statistical assessment is prone to overestimation of deviation values – a factor that could portray a firm as under-performing while the firm’s departments are delivering maximum output in an evenly distributed manner.
In the effort to successfully implement the program, the inventors of the six sigma performance improvement model invented a hierarchy of critical features whose integration would culminate in maximum output in the firm. Firstly, the program operates under a top-down strategy where the executive leadership participates in creating a cohesive environment for junior officers as well as investing in appropriate financial and material resources necessary for attaining expected performance level. Moreover, the executive team selects a team of champions whose mandate is to implement the process strategies of Six Sigma. In collaboration with Champions, the Master Black Belts are a team that participates in identifying the Six Sigma projects and monitoring the implementation of the performance tool in various departments of a firm. The Black belts focus on special projects in the implementation process based on the unique demands of the operation strategies in the company. Finally, the process requires a team of Green employees who blend their job specialization task with the six sigma demands and receive instructions from the Black Belt leaders.
One of the major success factors of the models is the provision of training to the employees in a strategic procedure to acclimatize the employees with the unique demands of the project and foster team development. It’s only through team development that the statistical model would achieve considerable results that have a long-term positive impact on the organization’s success in production and service strategy. Specifically, the training program consists of belt holders such as Green and black belt officer (Kwak, & Anbari, 2006). The training program is an expansive technique that harmonizes qualitative and quantities assessment results, leadership styles and management techniques that rhyme with the consumer needs and market preferences.
The need to focus on consumer satisfaction and demands is attributed to the Porter’s emphasis on corporate citizenship to the employee’s welfare. Maintaining employees’ welfare through skills and valuing their external environment is the key foundation for a reduction in product defects and increased profitability. Therefore, organizations must continue upgrading the employee with current skills in anticipation of future changes and a prompt reaction to maintain a sustainable performance. In addition, the executive leadership should involve the employees in developing the six sigma model based on key facts in the market and the need to boost their motivation for participating in decision-making. Failure to recognize the employee’s effort has been factored as one of the causes of six sigma model ineffectiveness in the long-run.
The Six Sigma model is attributed to the success of globalization strategy in most companies that focus on a value chain based analysis of all pertinent stakeholders. The model encompasses harmonizing data of operation activities, evaluating the performance level and subsequently develops policies for further development (Goh, 2002). Unlike other approaches that advocate for the eradication of defective processes and equipment, the six sigma tool concentrates on employing up to date capital resources to seal the defective gap. As a result, the firms can retain the indigenous production strategy for a long term thus saving on costs and safeguarding production efficiency. The core essence of six sigma performance improvement process is to accelerate the company’s strategic effectiveness of the prompt identification of production and management loopholes and directly inject resources to revamp the production stage. The approach supersedes alternative measures that randomly identify the failed strategic process without concrete material and statistical evidence. For instance, when a manufacturing department under –performs, the management may react by changing the capital equipment while the main problem settles at the employees demoralization and low skills. Hence, the firm would lose on financial resources without solving the real problem. However, the six sigma model saves the firm to the cost, time, and resources of improving the performance of the strategic plan.
In another perspective, organization and stakeholders’ culture contributes immensely to the implementation process in the six sigma model. While the management would prefer an alternative performance strategy, most employees would be reluctant to embrace the new process citing fear of losing job responsibilities as well as intentional motive to derail the process for personal gains. Through accommodative communication techniques to the affected parties, the model would achieve the expected results. The decision-making process coupled with emotional intelligence technique is an essential step in bridging the indifference gap among the employees, management, and other pertinent stakeholders. Understanding cultural diversity, employee training and effective communication permits
Benefits of Six Sigma
Since its invention, the six sigma has demonstrated remarkable success in the manufacturing sector in various firms such as Motorola, General Electric, and Toshiba. The firms adopted the process into their operation strategies and in subsequent years, they reported increased productivity on output and a huge rise in revenue collection. However, failure by management to observe interactive reaction across all departments could lead to a dismal performance of the firm. A major example is the Kodak Company that applied the six sigma model and concentrated on improving the machine efficiency oblivious of the varying changes in markets. The firm was losing the market dominance of rival firms as the consumers shifted to digital cameras for flexibility, convenience and high-quality pictures. The management had failed to recognize the exogenous factors that could culminate in underperformance despite the Green Belts’ effort to institute innovative strategies.
Another benefit of the model is improved results in research and development techniques. The model emphasis on process Improvement and collection of market data requires a huge investment in research and development on internal and external environment factors whose output would influence overall productivity (Kwak & Anbari, 2006). On the other hand, the health sector is another beneficiary of the six sigma model. The sector is characterized by well-equipped practitioners and a non-probabilistic nature of underperformance. The six sigma model used in the health sector underscores a 100% performance level in diagnosing the patients and the haste to employ strategies for mitigating unforeseen health deficiencies.
Challenges facing Six Sigma effectiveness
Inadequate financial resources
The implementation of the process requires periodic assessment of all department functions as well as training of employees to facilitate process improvement. Unfortunately, the program faces a financial challenge as most firms fail to invest in financial capital essential sustains the process therefore, the process is partially implemented (Antony, 2004).
Bureaucratic system of governance
In another perspective, the unilateral decision-making process from the executive is a hindrance to total quality management in the six sigma model. In most firms, the executive leadership confines the strategic plan without involving other employees in the company. In that case, a successful firm should endorse effective communication technique that accommodates the interests of all stakeholders.
Criticisms against Six Sigma model
It’s an improved process rather than an original innovation
Despite the notable impact of the model in the organization, some critics front the process as a conventional method that is inconsistent with the market and organization changes. The process fails to recognize the need for a lean management approach that lays emphasis on quality productivity through performance improvement without creating statistical limits (Hammer, 2002). The model‘s application of belts is unrealistic in the current century.
Over-reliance on statistical values
Rather than outline visible strategic objectives, the model relies on statistical values whose determining criteria is inconsistent. Various firms set different deviation values for consideration thus it would be difficult to make conclusive deductions on the industry performance.
Most firms have realized the importance of the six sigma model in delivering quality output and services to the target market as well as maximizing shareholders returns. The six sigma principles and integration of technological techniques are critical in bridging the cultural dimension gap that has often deterred attainment of expected performance objectives. Conclusively, the six sigma performance evaluation tool is a universal approach whose implementation would steer organizations to internal growth, global penetration and quality improvement of products and services.
Antony, J. (2004). Some pros and cons of six sigma: an academic perspective.The TQM Magazine, 16(4), 303-306.
Goh, T. N. (2002). A strategic assessment of Six Sigma. Quality and Reliability Engineering International, 18(5), 403-410.
Hammer, M. (2002). Process management and the future of six sigma.Engineering Management Review, IEEE, 30(4), 56-56.
Kwak, Y. H., & Anbari, F. T. (2006). Benefits, obstacles, and future of six sigma approach. Technovation, 26(5), 708-715.
Linderman, K., Schroeder, R. G., Zaheer, S., & Choo, A. S. (2003). Six Sigma: a goal-theoretic perspective. Journal of Operations management, 21(2), 193-203.
Wiklund, H., & Wiklund, P. S. (2002). Widening the Six Sigma concept: An approach to improve organizational learning. Total Quality Management, 13(2), 233-239.
Zu, X., Fredendall, L. D., & Douglas, T. J. (2008). The evolving theory of quality management: the role of Six Sigma. Journal of operations Management,26(5), 630-650.