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- Six SIGMA Team Dynamics: The Elusive Key to Project Success?
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See our disclaimer. Specifications Publisher Wiley. After the tutorial, Immelt commented to me that while using Cpk was fine, using sigma calculations could provide a universal language for an organization similar to what Motorola was doing. I was highly impressed with his sigma knowledge. In , when General Electric committed to a Six Sigma management philosophy, my hunch was that Immelt was on a path to succeed Jack Welch.source url
Six Sigma Team Dynamics
To his credit, Welch flew to Cincinnati and Albany to present the bad news to each of the men personally. After being lifelong General Electric employees, they had come up short to take over the most prominent conglomerate in the world. Their first feelings had to be of vast disappointment.
Quickly, however, their natural competitiveness took over. Within hours of the Immelt announcement, every major recruitment firm was calling them with offers. What happened next chronicles perhaps one of the most dramatic endorsements of Six Sigma as a management philosophy.
In their first weeks on the job, both McNerney and Nardelli announced to their new organizations that they were committed to the Six Sigma management philosophy. Clearly, both men wanted to create their own management style in their new organizations. Yet their commitment to Six Sigma was so tangible that they made it the first order of business in their new roles. Gary Wendt did the same thing after leaving General Electric Capital. Wooed by a number of powerhouse financial institutions, he settled into the CEO position at Conseco Insurance in Then there is Jeffrey Immelt himself.
While he has indicated his plans to place his personal stamp on General Electric, in his first formal comments as the CEO, he echoed his firm belief in Six Sigma as the management philosophy that would continue. What do these stories have to do with Six Sigma team dynamics? Both top leadership and project teams must understand that Six Sigma is more than a tactical improvement methodology—it is a way of life.
When a Six Sigma team co-exists with active, lively management support and involvement, many of the issues and concerns typically facing teams in terms of poor team dynamics are either mild or nonexistent. The problem, of course, is that this barbaric method of cost cutting leaves the survivors with bad attitudes and the difficult challenge of trying to merge two battle-weary organizations into one corporate culture.
In the short term, the balance sheet looks good, but the long-term value of this approach to management as a way to make an organization more effective and efficient continues to diminish over time. For the tactics of Six Sigma to work, executive management must set the right tone for the organization.
This tone must stress Six Sigma as a method of management where everything an organization does is customer focused, process focused, and employee focused. An organization cannot be employee focused when it treats employees as expendable commodities, always at risk of being laid off or fired to help the organization meet cost savings goals.
Six SIGMA Team Dynamics: The Elusive Key to Project Success by George Eckes
The benefits of improving processes, and ultimately the bottom line, through Six Sigma project teams are felt not only by the organization but also by the people who work within the organization. In addition, executive management must create a Six Sigma culture where participation on Six Sigma teams is considered a part of the work to be done by employees. Further, they must create support for Six Sigma at the midmanagement level, mobilizing commitment to both the concept and activities of Six Sigma.
These concepts were covered in our second book, Making Six Sigma Last.
Six Sigma Team Dynamics. The Elusive Key to Project Success
Pure and simple, the top executive level of management must support Six Sigma in the same way as Immelt, McNerney, and Nardelli have done, making Six Sigma a way of life within the organization. The direct roles and responsibilities of the Six Sigma project team are discussed in the following pages. Instead, I decided to develop a representative composite of the teams I have encountered.
I take you through the six months it typically takes for a project team to complete a DMAIC project using a fictional story that highlights both the good and the bad of typical Six Sigma teams. The company is a multimillion-dollar business focused on financial services, predominately in the mortgage and credit card arenas. Profitable through the late s, in large part due to the thriving economy, times have become tough for Alpha Omega.
A part of their problem now is the result of decisions by organizations like General Electric Capital, Wells Fargo Financial, and Household Finance to implement a Six Sigma management philosophy. Sexson had learned that being process focused was a critical first step toward being a Six Sigma company. Sexson had been coached that for Six Sigma project teams to be successful, the best and brightest had to be involved. Temojoe Consulting had made that apparent in the identification of process ownership, a key element of Business Process Management. Process Owners must be subject matter experts, and they have to experience the most pain or gain from the process, as well as having an aptitude for process thinking.
Perhaps most importantly, they needed to have the respect of those around them since they would eventually be trying to create influence through the strength of their argument rather than through the clout of the organizational chart. Temojoe Consulting argued that Sexson needed to identify the best and brightest for this endeavor for a multitude of reasons.
First, success would come more quickly and more dramatically by having the best and brightest assigned to Six Sigma activity. Second, Temojoe Consulting had encouraged her to assign the best and brightest to send a message to all of Alpha Omega—a message that she was serious about Six Sigma. If Sexson was going to task her top managers to the quality initiative, then Alpha Omega as an organization had to be serious about this cutting-edge management approach.
At the strategic level, Sexson had done an outstanding job of assigning process ownership to the best and brightest of the organization. In some cases, this meant that current management would be given a new, though uncompensated title of Process Owner. In other cases, nonmanagement personnel took on the role of Process Owner. By the end of the first few months of Six Sigma implementation, Alpha Omega had selected 11 high-impact, low-performing subprocesses for tactical Six Sigma improvement. Among the processes targeted for improvement was an underwriting project, along with the customer maintenance process, which included the function known as the Call Center.
The Process Owner for customer maintenance was Charles Zukor, an year veteran of Alpha Omega who had been the Call Center director for a little more than a year. Of particular concern were problems with first call resolution, timeliness of response time to customer issues, and courtesy of the Call Center staff. The first two issues had become a concern during the past year.
Project team dynamics
During the Business Process Management consulting, Zukor had learned that first call resolution, timeliness of response time, and courtesy constituted what is called the Critical to Quality CTQ customer requirements. His experience with TQM was negative. He had seen some T and Q but not much M. While not yet a convert to Six Sigma, he had already observed that Six Sigma seemed different. Temojoe Consulting had taken on the assignment with Alpha Omega with the assurance that the first months of consulting would be focused exclusively on management issues.
The Temojoe consultants then had the Alpha Omega executive team drill each core process down to the sublevel where five to seven subprocesses that constituted each core process were identified. It was at this point that the customer maintenance subprocess was created. The Call Center function was a significant part of that process. When each Process Owner reported on process performance based on measures of effectiveness and efficiency, it soon became apparent that customer maintenance and the function of the Call Center would be a target for improvement.