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Six sigma – disadvantages and its lack of user focus


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Lean Six Sigma has become institutionalized within large transforming corporate environments however to those with a digital, customer or user experience heritage, the Lean six sigma methods are process heavy, best suited to manufacturing, lack service applicability, lack context & meaning and are downright damaging to software development programs. A process centric approach is an internal company perspective that fails to consider human needs, problems and interactions. Using a UCD approach resolves these issues and provide the correct focus and context for process re-engineering.

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Six sigma – disadvantages and its lack of user focus

  2. 2. SUMMARY • LEAN Six Sigma practice and culture has become embedded within many global organizations seeking a leading practice approach to business improvement and is employed to realize greater business efficiency. Tools include quantitative research to identify improvement initiatives, key performance indicators, measurement criteria & business process re-engineering. As a process oriented approach, Six Sigma has an internal organizational perspective to customers. • While it has been used very successfully in the Industrial manufacturing industry, it is less successful in delivering qualitative outcomes within Service Industries. • In the Digital Era, the most successful Service companies have undertaken to provide value by taking an external perspective, improving the experience of their target customers. Today in order to achieve success, Digital and omni-channel approaches must consider customer insight, motivations, problems, journeys & stories to refine customer touch-points & maximize customer value. Internal Process & operational requirements are an output , rather than an input. • Delivery of customer value is more likely to be achieved when Technology & Business share a common vision, a contextual understanding of customer needs and behaviours, and are motivated to care about customers & colleagues. 2013
  3. 3. ARTICLE 1: REFERENCE: GOEKE, R. (2010), USING THE VOICE OF THE CUSTOMER TO DRIVE ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE CHANGE, URL: HTTP://WWW.PROCESSEXCELLENCENETWORK.COM/LEAN/COLUMNS/USING-THE- VOICE-OF-THE-CUSTOMER-TO-DRIVE-ORGANIZAT/ Goeke (2010) indicates the following: 1. Six Sigma is heavy reliant on processes and quantifying the Voice of Customer, namely employees and functional areas across the organisation rather than to help employees understand the value from the perspective of the end user. 2. Organisation needs to become actively engaged in mapping a value stream and be aware of their own role in enabling the creation and delivery of superior value to end users 3. Quantifying Voice of Customer is not sufficient and not an indicator to improve end user/customer experience 2013
  4. 4. ARTICLE 2: REFERENCE: MATTHIJSSEN, P. (2011), LEAN SIX SIGMA FOR NON-INDUSTRIAL ORGANIZATIONS, URL: HTTP://WWW.MODERNANALYST.COM/RESOURCES/ARTICLES/TABID/115/ARTICLETYPE/ARTICLE VIEW/ARTICLEID/2077/LEAN-SIX-SIGMA-FOR-NONINDUSTRIAL-ORGANIZATIONS.ASPX Matthijssen (2011) indicates that Six Sigma is more suited for industrial/manufacturing industry where it is process- oriented and not for services industry. Listed below are the reasons.In the service sector, we see a shift to increasingly complex products and services. For example, we do not just speak about regular insurance anymore, but a plethora of variations: different products for different target audiences, in various combinations, with specific conditions and separate pricing models 1. Service sector is different to industrial sector due to the complexity of products 2. Everybody is busy, but where is the customer? Customer is king, but we put them on hold for 10 minutes. What value do our activities add for the customer? Do we even know what our customer wants? It is hard to deliver quality if we have no clear sense of the customers’ needs. It is not only about process definition but also about identifying the interactions (between the end user and the organisation, the way the customer use the products/services) and behaviour of the customer. 3. A lot of companies work with Performance Indicators (PIs) and performance rewards. But are we rewarding the right things? We often see that based on PIs the wrong behaviour is rewarded. Employees are stimulated to score high on PIs, but end up deteriorating the quality/turnaround for the customer. Poorly designed systems for performance rewards can turn out to be counterproductive. 2013
  5. 5. ARTICLE 3: REFERENCE: WILHITE, T. (2012), ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF SIX SIGMA, URL: HTTP://TAMARAWILHITE.HUBPAGES.COM/HUB/ADVANTAGES-AND- DISADVANTAGES-OF-SIX-SIGMA Whilhite (2012) identifies the disadvantages of Sig Sigma as the following: 1. Six Sigma implementation involves process monitoring and data collections. Data collection and analysis takes up time and resources; this is called the cost of quality, and the cost of achieving high quality must be balanced against other business objectives. 2. Six Sigma does not work well with intangible results. Six Sigma projects are best for physical products that are out of specification, either too large or too small. Six Sigma projects can be applied to business processes that generate measurable outputs such as calls handled per hour or customer wait time. Six Sigma projects do not work well with goals like improving customer satisfaction or lifting employee morale. 2013
  6. 6. ARTICLE 4: REFERENCE: DEL ANGEL, C. AND FROELICH, J. (2008), SIX SIGMA WHAT WENT WRONG, URL: HTTP://WWW.DESTINATIONCRM.COM/ARTICLES/COLUMNS-DEPARTMENTS/THE-TIPPING- POINT/SIX-SIGMA-WHAT-WENT-WRONG-51394.ASPX Del Angel and Froelich (2008) reports on the following examples from corporations who have adopted Six Sigma: 1. At Home Depot, for example, former CEO Robert Nardelli was ousted after his strict focus on Six Sigma negatively affected worker morale and consumer sentiment. In the American Customer Satisfaction Index rankings, the company dropped from a top spot among major retailers to the bottom in 2005. Profitability soared, but the stock price plummeted. 2. 3M struggled with Six Sigma, though it seemed promising when first implemented under CEO James McNerney, a former GE executive. Profits initially grew approximately 22 percent a year, but then languished. Experts questioned whether McNerney’s—and Six Sigma’s—unyielding emphasis on efficiency stifled 3M’s creativity and innovation. 3. These examples show that companies cannot focus on implementing Six Sigma in isolation. 4. Six Sigma is merely a set of process tools that should be only one part of a more holistic process-improvement strategy. Equal attention must be paid to people, innovation, and customer relationships 5. Some of the aspects that make Six Sigma powerful may in fact reduce its overall effectiveness. The methodology employs rigorous statistical analysis to identify defect areas, the correction of which produces better quality, lower costs, and increased efficiency. 6. While Six Sigma may be very effective at controlling processes, elements that are harder to control, such as employee behaviour and innovation/ideation, can hinder long-term success. The measurement or control mechanisms of these elements have not been explored or widely implemented with Six Sigma approaches 2013
  7. 7. ARTICLE 5: REFERENCE: THORNTON , S. (2013), PROBLEMS WITH SIX SIGMA METHODS, URL: HTTP://WWW.EHOW.COM/ABOUT_5436078_PROBLEMS-SIX-SIGMA- METHODS.HTML#IXZZ2KPZ8GFPX Thornton (2013) indicates the following: 1. Six Sigma is a process quality improvement methodology that utilizes "the concept of statistical thinking and encourages the application of well-proven statistical tools and techniques for defect reduction through process variability reduction methods". This implies that the measurement used in Six Sigma is quantitative in nature. How about qualitative measurement such as measuring behaviour, experiences and customer/end user satisfaction or painpoints? 2. Defect definition. Defining a defect can be difficult for any business process that isn't a standardized manufacturing process, especially innovative business processes. 3. Proponents of Six Sigma believe the methods can be used in any business environment, including the service industry, but defects in industries such as these can be difficult to define and measure because Six Sigma defines defects with the assumption of normality and ignores the severity of defects. 4. A defect in the service industry resulting in customer dissatisfaction can range from a simple misunderstanding of terminology to complete disrespect by the employee towards the customer; these two outcomes receive the same value in Six Sigma methods because they both cause customer dissatisfaction, but they completely differ in the overall result of the organization's customer satisfaction levels. 2013
  8. 8. THE ALTERNATIVE? A Human centred Design approach maximizes customer value. • Strategy Definition • Customer Insights , Customer/User Experience strategy • Target Customer/User & Channels • Value Propositions, Prioritization & Planning • Collaboration & Agility: Visioning for Value, Personnas, User Stories/Use cases, Information Architecture, Protoyping, Testing, Iteration, Production • Business Process Design & Organisational Structure • Feedback & Analysis • Contact Sharon Don @ to learn more about Human centred, Design Thinking approaches to Innovation and Transformation 2013