I’m being a bit facetious in my title…but by one measure, 6 Sigma in the S&P is a failure. Here’s a piece titled:
"The Big Idea: Six Stigma For two decades, one program designed to quantify quality was all the rage. Get ready for the backlash"
Here’s a key bit of analysis.
A recent study from QualPro, a consulting firm that advocates an
alternative quality process, points out that 53 of 58 large companies
that use Six Sigma have trailed the S&P 500 ever since they
implemented it. As if on cue, once-mighty proponents of the program
have begun to scale back their involvement, if not abandon it outright.
As a 6 Sigma Black Belt (I use the training and principles to fuel my interaction with 6 Sigma companies vs. doing projects), I understand what the author of this piece is getting at. The largest side affect of 6 Sigma is what I call, "Business Process Myopia", that is honing down a project and its analysis to be "manageable by limiting the focus" only to put a well thought out band aid on a massive gaping head wound." I’ve personally experienced the blow back from project participants as described below.
It could be that programs such as Six Sigma undermine individual
contributions to the company. After all, it’s hard to feel as if you’re
doing something meaningful when the language of the workplace reduces
you to a cog in an inhuman profit machine. But increasingly, top-level
managers are groaning too, and that’s because there is evidence to
suggest that the numbers don’t stand up to scrutiny.
I work with a company that has done very well with 6 Sigma and continues to reap massive benefit from it…but I wonder what will happen when (if) that company’s stock begins a retreat. Will there still be disciples preaching the gospel at the water cooler?