- In applying the Breakthrough Strategy to achieve Six Sigma success in a phase, segment, or organization, there are eight fundamental steps or stages involved.
- Recognize, Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control, Standardize, and Integrate are those eight steps.
- Each stage is structured to ensure
(1) that organizations are methodically and disciplined in implementing the Breakthrough Strategy;
(2) that Six Sigma projects are adequately identified and executed;
(3) that the outcomes of these projects are integrated into the day-to-day business.
- Almost any organization can be separated into three simple tiers. The highest level, the corporate shield, is the level of the industry. The second level is the level of operations.
- The third step is the stage of the method. Although the Breakthrough Approach refers to each level of an organization, separate, but complementary, outcomes are obtained at each level.
- The performance of Six Sigma is characterized as the degree to which it transforms each level of the enterprise in order to increase the overall efficiency and profitability of the organization.
- In essence, the Breakthrough Approach is a complex technique that makes its way up and down the corporate hierarchy.
This is one of the reasons that Six Sigma needs to be recognized and integrated at any stage of the organization, unlike most quality initiatives, if long-term, company-wide changes are to be made. One way to consider how the Breakthrough Approach operates in an enterprise at different levels is to imagine the way gears run.
In just about anything that has rotating elements, from clocks to car engines and VCRs, gears exist.
Each of these items comprises a variety of variable-sized gears that spin at different speeds.
On the face of a non-digital clock, for example, there are multiple hands reflecting hours, minutes, seconds, and often the moon phase.
As a consequence of the various sizes and shapes of the gears, the hour, minute, and second hands travel at different speeds.
To establish a fluid motion, the shafts which drive the gears are aligned. The entire system fails or becomes inefficient when one gear, shaft, or spring fails.
- The Breakthrough Technique has a similar impact on various levels of an enterprise, with each stage or “gear” running in lockstep but at different speeds.
- For example, executing and deploying all eight stages of the Breakthrough Plan at the company or organizational level under the leadership of a Deployment Champion could take three to five years.
- A Project Champion will cycle through the eight phases at the operations level—a smaller-sized corporate “gear”—in about twelve to eighteen months
Black Belts will adapt the Breakthrough Technique to particular initiatives in six to eight weeks at the process or actual project level, generating instant cash to the bottom line. Every stage of an organization implements the Breakthrough Plan individually and at varying speeds as it operates against a greater, shared goal, powered by the mainspring of compensation and appreciation, just like individual gears in a clock are linked to one another by a gear train.
- Managers in operations use Six Sigma to boost yield, eradicate secret warehouses, and minimize labour and inventory costs.
- Corporate leaders use Six Sigma to improve market share, maximize revenue, and ensure the corporation’s long-term stability.
- Black Belts use Six Sigma at the process level to minimize delays and variation while simultaneously enhancing process capability in ways that correlate with corporate and organizational priorities, resulting in greater profitability and customer loyalty.
- While the Breakthrough Approach is differently implemented by each level of the company, it is performed in unison and organized so that the general strategic market priorities are fulfilled.
Although everybody operates in the Understand, Identify, Calculate, Evaluate, Improve, Monitor, Standardize, and Incorporate phases, from executives at the company level down to Black Belts at the process level, they do so with a different emphasis and with a different time frame.
For example, during the Measure period, corporate leadership is concerned with calculating gross margins and total profitability; operations managers are in charge of measuring labour costs and managing commodity costs and overhead; and Black Belts are in charge of measuring cycle time, yield, and errors per product at the process stage, among other items.
Each measurement degree flows in a very unique and related manner through the other.
Similarly, during the Enhance period, an organization-wide rollout of Six Sigma could be the target of anyone at the company level, while managers at the organizational level could concentrate on Black Belt preparation and project selection, and Black Belts at the process level could perform Creation of Experiments (DOE)-the direct modification of variables to see if they impact a function that is vital to efficiency.
During the management period, business-level executive leadership must take action to ensure that Six Sigma results are sustained; administrators could work on establishing a compensation and recognition mechanism at the organizational level to ensure continuity of the Black Belt; and Black Belts must record processes at the process level so that process efficiency improvements are maintained. Again, in a seamless and hierarchical way, each step links to the next.
- Thus, while sustainability requires firms to enhance their operations at their most fundamental levels, Six Sigma’s long-term objective is to incorporate and standardize changes to the company-wide structure at all levels to maximize the overall efficiency of “sigma”.
- Companies such as AlliedSignal, Dupont, and General Electric have also realized that by concentrating their human and financial capital exclusively on Six Sigma, the effects of Six Sigma have been expedited.
These organizations have discovered the Six Sigma acts as a stimulus for other programs. They figure out by Six Sigma which policies are promoting beneficial progress and which initiatives are delivering uncorrelated outcomes. To get the best out of their overall improvement initiatives, Six Sigma aligns and focuses the strength of their efforts.