Preventing Six Sigma Failure

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Why do Six Sigma projects fail?

When we say fail, we mean why the projects don’t achieve the objective which they were supposed to accomplish? There are various reasons for the project failure. However, the following are the top six reasons.

1. Lack of Management Support:

The first reason or the prime reason for Six Sigma failure is the lack of management support.  It is the support that comes from management commitment to provide the resources, including team members.

Any Six Sigma project requires people from multiple disciplines to join the team, collect data, do data analyses, identify solutions. If the people identified as the team members are not freed or spared from their respective department to support the project assignments, you really cannot do anything. The project is bound to fail.

This is where management support comes into the picture, and for this, a supporting champion in the organization is a key to Six Sigma program success.

If there is strong support from the management, and the Six Sigma team gets the needed resources, there’s a good chance of the project being completed.

2. Lack of Process Owner Support:

Another reason for Six Sigma project is the lack of process owner support.

In Six Sigma you are working towards improving a process. But if the process owner doesn’t support that project, you will not get access to collect data and make changes to the process.

This might lead to your project not achieving the required objective.

3. Team Member’s Commitment:

Six Sigma projects are generally done by a team. The members of this team are from various disciplines. If the team members do not complete the assigned tasks, it will lead to the failure of the project.

Team member commitment, in a way, is linked to the lack of management support. Because if the management gives importance to the project, there is a good chance that the team members will support the project.

4. Incorrect Scope

When you decide the scope of the Six Sigma project, it needs to be really well defined and nicely sliced.  You can’t eat a big pie at a time; you need to cut that into small pieces, the pieces which you can digest at a time.

The correct scope would be something which you can complete in two to three months.

If you take too broad a scope, then there is a chance that this project becomes a never-ending project. You cannot solve the world population problem or world hunger problem with the Six Sigma project. You need to break it down to a manageable size and attempt that do the project which you can do in two to three month.

Complete the project in two to three months, get the benefits out of that, and then you go to the next project.

That’s how you can successfully complete Six Sigma projects.

5. Lack of Training

Next reason for the Six Sigma failure is the lack of training.

People need training, not just the Black Belt; you need to have people below having Green Belt, and Yellow Belts training.

In addition to that, the management also needs to be trained. Management needs to know the benefits of Six Sigma and to understand that their support is critical to the success of Six Sigma projects.

So the lack of training will undoubtedly lead to project failure.

6. Incorrect Project Selection

Any Six Sigma project needs to be aligned with the strategic goal of the organization.

The management is looking at the strategic goals of the organization, which they want to achieve.

This could be to expand the market share, to increase the sale, or to improve the product quality.

Unless the project is aligned with the strategic goals of the organization, it’s not going to be successful because you will not be getting required management support,

If the selected project does not provide the financial gains in the short term or long term, it is bound to fail because management is looking at how much money this project will be making.


Let’s be very clear here, the goal of Six Sigma is not to reduce defect; it’s not to make the client happy, it’s not do anything else, it’s just to make more profits. That’s what the management is interested in, and that is the reason Six Sigma a successful today, even after 30 years of starting.

The critical focus of  Six Sigma is on financial gains. You improve quality to get more profit; you improve customer satisfaction to get more money in the company.

So, if your project is not tied up to the financial goals, it is highly unlikely  that your project will be successful because I doubt that management will be giving you the support which you are expecting,

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