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 #3
The potential gains from Six Sigma are equally or more significant in services and non-manufacturing activities as they are in production environments, and even greater when working across functions and processes.
You cannot apply Six Sigma quite the same way in sales as in manufacturing, but the fundamentals are the same, whether it is measuring performance, finding waste, or implementing a solution.
Lessons Learned: When leaders invest time, working as a team to identify and address key cross-functional opportunities, the outcomes are nearly always positive. By contrast, when Six Sigma is run by department-focused groups that are left to generate their own projects, the outcomes are usually disappointing. One of the biggest remaining upsides of Six Sigma still lies in greater leader and organization-wide ownership; it is much more often relegated over time to a department or group that works only on special projects, having to justify its existence every year.
The Payoff: You can get more mileage from your improvement investment if you look at your opportunities broadly and take on both the cross-functional issues and local problems that have the most impact on your profits and customers. Then it can be more easily linked to what is important to everyone and be integrated into common practice.