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Author: Ryan J Bell

The deployment of a Six Sigma initiative can only be as successful as the effectiveness of the project team's leader. To understand why, it's worth reviewing how an assignment is approached.

The methodology is both rigorous and meticulous. It requires a careful examination of the process in question within the context of an organization's high-level objectives. Then, the team members are tasked with the collection and review of process-related data. Solutions are created in order to eliminate inefficiencies and the resulting data is studied to identify success (or lack thereof) as well as any deviations from expected outcomes.

Having said that, a successful deployment requires effective management that begins at an organization's executive leadership level. Success is also dependent upon project leaders who can provide the right blend of guidance and mentoring to the Six Sigma team members. Below, I'll explain how the initiative is managed from the top down.

The Role Of Executive Leadership

A company's key stakeholders must first accept the initiative as a high priority. The reason is because they must communicate to all employees throughout the organization that the effort has their full support. If the executive leadership fails to do this, the project members' authority will be undermined. As a result, successfully carrying out their tasks will be far more difficult.

For example, an initiative will require the contribution of people within other departments. If department heads have not been informed that key stakeholders fully support the effort, they may show resistance. After all, resources are being pulled from them. The executive leadership must make it clear that the project members have the authority to pull those resources as needed.

Another role that top-level executives play is choosing Six Sigma team leaders. This selection is a critical step in the successful management of the assignment. This person is typically a Master Black Belt who interacts closely with each member in order to keep their activities on track with the effort's objectives.

How The Master Black Belt Makes A Mark

The Six Sigma Master Black Belt also serves as the primary change agent within the organization. That person is responsible for helping to ensure the organization's employees and managers embrace the initiative. In effect, he or she is tasked with infusing the project and its goals into the culture of a company. In doing so, their constant communication prevents departmental resistance and lays the groundwork for achieving significant results.

To maximize the likelihood of the project's success, Master Black Belts should have experience in participating in past Six Sigma efforts. They should understand the interaction of the team's members as well as how to assign specific tasks. However, the ability to lead is not enough. The Black Belt must also be able to mentor Green Belts.

The Importance Of Mentoring

As noted, the success of a Six Sigma effort is dependent upon its effective management. It begins at the top levels of executive leadership within an organization. From there, the responsibilities of managing the project are placed on the shoulders of a trained and experienced Master Black Belt. That individual leads the team toward process improvement resultsThe project team will include members who have just received their Six Sigma training. While their classroom coursework explained the methodology, they will have limited experience in applying its principles. Master Black Belts must play a mentoring role to new members. They must provide the right balance of leadership and guidance in order to ensure that Black and Green Belts learn through practical application, but at a pace that supports the current initiative. Not only does this help the Six Sigma project team maintain a high level of productivity, but prepares Green Belts for future assignments.

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About the Author

This information on six sigma and lean processes is provided by BMGI, a leading education and consulting firm in the innovation field.


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