Guest Column: What Went Wrong with Six Sigma?

A look into Six Sigma's 60 percent failure rate


Implementing the Six Sigma methodology can still be a very successful approach to process improvement. Many companies that have implemented Six Sigma have seen their product quality improve, their costs decline and their efficiency level increase, directly impacting bottom-line profitability. However, many times this success becomes a short-term phenomenon because companies fail to sufficiently incorporate all factors that impact the long-term sustainability of those improvements.

A behavior-focused approach makes change sustainable. It helps the workers change the way they feel and think about their jobs by aligning attitudes and behaviors with the system and process changes, as well as with the overall direction of the company. Further, it keeps us ever aware that a technically-sound change designed by Six Sigma, lean or similar applications could be at risk of failing unless supported by the appropriate behavioral change.

About the Authors: Cristopher Del Angel and Christina Pritchard both work for Atlanta-based Proudfoot Consulting, which for 60 years has specialized in implementing change to achieve measurable and sustainable performance improvement in client companies. Recent client engagements include BHP Billiton, BNSF Railway, CertainTeed, ING, Thomson Group, Exide Technologies, Foster Wheeler North America and the HRW division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. www.proudfootconsulting.com.

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