The Essentials of a Six Sigma Due-Dilligence

Dr. Mikel J. Harry

In today’s marketplace companies of all types and sizes are looking for top-line growth, reduction in their total cost structure, increased capacity without capital investment, improvements in customer satisfaction, better investor relations, and sound supply chain management practices, not to mention a substantial increase in organizational capability and capacity. 

To remain competitive, these companies must deliver an additional 5-6% to the bottom line – each year. It is interesting that most organizations do not realize that the average company (operating at four sigma quality) leaves about 15% of every sales dollar on the table owing to a loss of capability and capacity due to the inadequate management of their core business processes. Since its inception in the 80’s as a quality initiative at Motorola, Six Sigma has evolvedintoaworld-classsystemofbusinessmanagement. Itprovidesameanstoreachthe control function of a corporation and positively alter the genetic code of its leadership. It changes the way in which work is managed and executed – in every corner of the organization and in everything it does. 

In other words, Six Sigma forces us to reexamine the way we get the work done and not simplytweaktheexistingsystemforsomemarginallyacceptablelevelofimprovement. Six Sigma is more than a quality improvement initiative as originally conceived. It has evolved into a system of business management that produces quantum change – in everything that it is focused on. Owing to this, we can now say that Six Sigma is about improving the “Quality of Business” versus being caught up in the “Business of Quality.” 

Simply stated, to get the right thing, you must do the right things; and to do the right things, you must know the right things. So, from nearly thirty years of successful practice, we recognize there are seven basic subject areas that every executive should have some basic knowledge about in order to perform a due-diligence investigation of Six Sigma:

  • Thinking Six Sigma – The Ideas that Power Breakthrough
  • Applying Six Sigma – The Vital Tools that Drive Application
  • Targeting Six Sigma – The Essential Tactics that Energize Projects
  • Leading Six Sigma – The “A” Players that Develop Momentum
  • Enabling Six Sigma – The Key Systems that Inform Management
  • Deploying Six Sigma – The Essential Guidelines that Create Mass
  • Initializing Six Sigma – The Top Programs that Accelerate Change

Through these subject areas, an executive-level due diligence leader can gain a conceptual portal into the world of Six Sigma. Through this portal, the executive can better understand the business nature of Six Sigma, a well as the vital technical aspects of the program. More specifically, an overview level of study related to these seven subjects will bring about tremendous insights into how Six Sigma can create economic value while concurrently building a workforce of world-class leaders. In short, the executive will be able to grasp the Six Sigma Value Proposition. 

The overarching objective is to gain a working understanding of the knowledge, strategies, systems, and tools needed to initialize, deploy, implement, apply and sustain Six Sigma – at the business, operations, and process levels of an enterprise. Thus, an executive-level due- diligence team can better appreciate the essentials for what it will take to leverage Six Sigma as a business improvement tool.