#2 Six Sigma’s Hidden Truths, Lessons Learned, and Potential Payoffs

The Six Sigma Way, 2nd Ed


The following is an author excerpt from Pete Pande, “Introduction to the Second Edition, The Six Sigma Way“, recently published by McGraw-Hill.


To help you get the greatest possible benefit from Six Sigma, it is important to recognize some of the misunderstood truths about what it offers, how it works, and where its real value lies. The truths for the most part are constant; still, we include some “Lessons Learned” based on the much deeper experience of Six Sigma since 1999.

Hidden Truth #2

Look around and you will find many “Six Sigma Ways.”  Following a fixed prescription, hiring a consultant to tell you what to do, or mimicking another organization is guaranteed to fall short or fail.  You need to be guided by your own vision, goals, capabilities, and culture (or “cultures,” since most organizations are really a mix) and be prepared to learn and adapt.  In addition, the Six Sigma Way is not (or should not be) about solving only certain types of problems.  Because it is about thinking as much as tools, it can impact how you address many kinds of challenges.

Lessons Learned: Here, the story is much more positive than under Hidden Truth #1. Most organizations soon recognize that follow- ing a standard implementation model for Six Sigma does not work. Only those that have continued to adapt their approach over time have achieved the kinds of results they had hoped for. Persistence, it seems clear, has its rewards.

The Payoff: Building your own Six Sigma way can be a great learn- ing experience, yielding insights into how your business works, what good and bad habits govern your actions, where the biggest oppor- tunities for improvement lie, and how best to capitalize on those opportunities. If you are willing to continue on that Way, it is likely that the biggest benefits lie ahead of you.

About Pete Pande

Pete Pande, President of Pivotal Resources Inc., is a seasoned consultant in process improvement, organization change and Lean Six Sigma initiatives (he is one of the recognized "experts" in the field). He has provided senior executive training and deployment consulting services in business improvement and Six Sigma efforts for such companies as GE Capital, Sun Microsystems, Cendant, Cisco Systems, Starwood Hotels, Honeywell, Carlson Wagonlit Travel and many others. For more information, please visit www.pivotalresources.com/about/our-team-executive.html#pande
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