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What will be the benefits, costs and risks of the Six Sigma program and how will they be tracked and reported?
Six Sigma is a program that is used to improve processes within the organization be it in administrative, clerical, manufacturing or production processes. Six Sigma is generally geared at defining goals and problems, measuring existing data and processes, analyzing problems and goals, improving processes or tasks and controlling how the problems will be resolved in the future.
The benefits of Six Sigma include the improvement of operating procedures to ensure faster response time, quality products and services and better monitoring of performance and work outputs.
The Six Sigma model can promise the said results and benefits because it provides a formula in which an existing processes is checked for consistency, efficiency and effectiveness, if it fails to measure to the existing industry standards it is revised and redesigned to match the best practices.
In the event that there is no existing process, then Six Sigma will be used as a model or guide to develop one. Six Sigma also ensures that costs will be lowered because there will be less time spent in the process and more time to work on the actual tasks. The cost of Six Sigma is huge, the organization has to hire and maintain a consultant that would guide and train top management and middle management in the principles of Six Sigma.
Moreover, each employee also has to be trained which can be costly since it would mean time away from work and training costs.
Six sigma also has its own risks, it is not foolproof and some organizations may not be suited to it hence instead of improving the organization it may only mean disaster. Then Six Sigma with its highly structured model may stifle interpersonal relationships in the organization and may change the organizational culture. As with any kind of change, implementing Six Sigma is bound to be met by skepticism and fear by the employees that may affect how smoothly the transition to Six Sigma would be.
Administrators and management will monitor how efficiently Six Sigma is implemented and whether the objectives for each project are being met. After a period of implementation the adoption of Six Sigma in several projects will be evaluated in terms of its benefits, costs and risks which will then be reported to the top management and board. It can be reported in terms of how goals had been met as compared to the previous performance, whether costs had been lowered and by what amount.
How should the various functional areas in the organization be included in the Six Sigma initiative and what role should senior and middle management play in this change initiative?
Since Six Sigma is a process model, it can be implemented in all the departments and work areas in the organization. A department may identify a problem or their goals which is being affected by an existing process. Thus, each department may be given the opportunity to practice Six Sigma, also, the middle manager can be the team leader in his/her department who oversees the process change as well as check if goals are being met. The senior managers can be the evaluating body in the sense that they will be the judge of whether Six Sigma had been adequately implemented. Middle managers become accountable for how well Six Sigma is implemented by the department while senior management will provide the support and control of the change process.
What role should Six sigma play in corporate strategy?
Six Sigma can also be employed in the formulation of corporate strategies. For example, Six Sigma requires that the leaders or managers of the organization first identify and define their goals. This would mean that the managers need to determine what are their goals and objectives for the company in the near future. After which, the managers need to measure and analyze their current position in the market, and whether they have the tools and resources necessary for the strategies that they are considering in order to meet their initial goals. After making use of internal and external data and mapping out what needs to be done, corporate strategies can then be formulated congruent to the existing data. In this way, the organization lessens the risks and costs associated with new corporate strategies.
What are the human resource implications for deploying Six Sigma (e.g. employee selection, roles, organization structure, and reward systems)?
Six Sigma is highly structured and it requires that key persons are designated as the team leader, as a Black Belt and such which means that human resource be able to match each employee to the roles and functions necessary to make Six Sigma work. This would mean that employee selection has to include measuring the ability of the employee to work within a structure and to follow protocol.
The organizational structure would also be affected when Six Sigma is employed in an organization because the organization will then be working as teams or units specializing in a process, it may tend to flatten the structure or to become more diversified. The reward systems may also be changed because the performance of the employees would be measured in terms of how well they improved their overall output and if they fail to reach the standards then they would not be rewarded. If rewards were based on individual performance before Six Sigma then it would mean a total redesign of the rewards system of the organization.
How will Six Sigma affect the innovative culture at 3M and is Six Sigma enough?
3M’s history had been dotted with innovation and it is the strongest point of the company bringing in sales, growth and market share. It is a diversified company which has depended on the ability of the R&D department to churn out new products which made 3M the leader in its field. Six Sigma had been criticized to stifle creativity and it would mean less opportunity for innovation. Because Six Sigma focuses on systematizing procedures and cutting on costs and risks, creativity has no room to grow in this set-up.
Six Sigma may work in terms of improving the processes of 3M especially in production, distribution, marketing and other procedural tasks however it should not be treated as a panacea. Six Sigma is not enough, it can be an excellent tool to improve how the organization performs but there are instances where it is not applicable. Six Sigma should be used in tandem with a culture and organizational structure that can support structure and procedures and at the same time leave room for creativity and innovation.