Six Sigma–If you value money, then monetize values!

In the book Six Sigma:  The Breakthrough Management Strategy Revolutionizing the World’s Top Corporations, by Mikel Harry, Ph.D., and Richard Schroeder, the first chapter asks the basic question of “Why Six Sigma?”, in other words, why are companies adopting Six Sigma.

When you start a project, there are three basic questions to be asked, what, why, and why.   The first “what’ question is “what are we trying to produce?”, whether that turns out to be a physical product, a service, or even an internal or organizational result.  The second question is “why are we trying to produce it?”, and this question is answered from the standpoint of the customer.   In other words, the product of the project is something that customers will want.   And if we produce that product, and customers are happy with it, that will benefit the company by … making money.   This is the other answer to the question “why are we trying to produce it?”, but this time it is answered from the standpoint of the company.   You are trying to produce the product in order to make money.

To Jack Welch, Six Sigma is ultimately not about numbers, but about values, in particular, those values of employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction which in turn generate cash flow and market share for the company.    In other words, you need to create metrics that can be measured in the Six Sigma process, metrics that correlate strongly with the values you are trying to instill in the product and the process which creates it.

Even if you profess to value something, you cannot control the outcomes of your processes to reflect those values until you are able to measure and report on metrics which do give you some degree of control.     Perhaps Galileo Galilei put it best: “Measure what is measurable, and make measurable what is not so.”


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