Why does Six Sigma fail?

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Failure means inability to achieve the objective which Six Sigma projects were supposed to achieve.

Following are some of the reasons for a Six Sigma project to fail.

Lack of management support

The top reason is the lack of management support. Management lacks the commitment to provide the resources. Six Sigma projects require people from different departments to come join, do data analyses and if these people are not freed or spared from that department, you really cannot do anything. The project is bound to fail. A strong champion is a key to the Six Sigma program success. If you have a support from the management, there’s a good chance of the project being successful, if not, definitely, you’re going to fail in your project.

Lack of process owner support

Another reason similar to management support is the lack of process owner support. If you are looking at a process where the yield is low, but then if this process owner doesn’t support that project, then probably you will not get access to the process, you might not get the information to the process, and this might lead to your project failure.

Team members commitment

Team member commitment is connected with the lack of management support. If there is management support, you would get team members support. However, if there is no management support team member also might not be providing the required support to do your Six Sigma project.

Incorrect scope (not too small, not too big)

The incorrect scope is another key thing which leads to project failure. When you decide a Six Sigma project that needs to really nicely slice it. You can’t eat a big pie at a time, you need to cut that into small pieces, which you can digest. The correct scope would be something which you can successfully complete in two to three months, if you take to wide scope then this becomes a never-ending project. On the other hand, you cannot solve world population problem or world hunger problem with the Six Sigma project. You need to divide the big scope into manageable pieces, take a smaller piece of that, complete that, get the benefits out of that, and then you go to the next project.

Lack of training

Team members need to be properly trained in Six Sigma methodology. Management too needs to be trained, to know the benefits of Six Sigma.

Incorrect project selection (Not alignment to strategic goals / No financial goals)

End of the day management is looking at the strategic goals of the organization, what they want to achieve. Management wants to expand the market share, increase sale, improve the product quality or meet other strategic goals. Unless the project is aligned with the organization’s strategic goals, it is not going to get the required management support.

Also if the selected project, does not have financial goals, it is bound to fail because management will be 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 defects or to make the client happy. The primary purpose of a Six Sigma project is to make more money. That’s the reason Six Sigma a successful today, even after 30 years of its existence. Improved quality leads to more profit and the improved customer satisfaction gets more money in the company. So, if your project is not tied up to the financial goals, it is doubtful that the project will be successful. Even if you’re looking at the defect rate deduction, you need to convert that into the financial goal.


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