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Author: Frank Lucer

Top managers can be forgiven for misunderstanding the potential of a carefully designed and well-deployed Six Sigma project. In truth, change management experts often communicate that potential in a way that encourages the wrong perspective from an organization's management. Rather than emphasizing the efficiencies that emerge from a Six Sigma team's creativity in designing innovative solutions, they focus upon numbers.

Today, we're going to discuss why stressing the data behind the process is the wrong approach. I'll describe how it can negatively affect the outcome of a project and why it's critical that both management and Six Sigma experts look beyond the numbers during a project's deployment.

The Misleading Allure Of Data

Business executives are accustomed to reviewing reports. While they're tasked with making decisions based upon what is contained within those reports, most are seldom required to devise creative solutions to resolve problems. Eventually, that dynamic can lead to poor decision-making. What's more, while numbers don't lie, they can mislead. They don't always tell the entire story behind why a problem exists; nor do they fully encapsulate the information that managers need to resolve a problem. This is one of the reasons why inefficiencies exist within business processes.

Numbers Are Useful... To A Point

For the Six Sigma operative, data is critical. But, its usefulness is most pronounced during the initial steps of a project's deployment, while problems are being identified and defined. The project team is responsible for studying a process in order to identify the inefficiencies and quantifying the issues that are causing them. Data is necessary for this step; it helps the project team identify areas that require creative solutions.

Once those solutions are implemented, they must be tracked and measured in order to track their effect. That can only be accomplished by having access to pools of data. However, the value that a change management team brings to an organization goes far beyond their ability to collect and analyze that data.

Looking Beyond The Numbers

Experienced operatives understand that bringing about significant improvements in process management and performance is not the result of statistical analysis. As noted, that step is important for problem identification, but it does not directly yield new process efficiencies. Designing solutions, integrating them within existing processes, and monitoring their effect over time are the disciplines that ultimately bring about improvements. Six Sigma project managers must communicate that to an organization's executive leadership, top managers, and department heads.

Problem Resolution Requires Creativity

In truth, anyone can install tracking mechanisms to collect process-related data. And most people can be trained to analyze those numbers, especially when tasked only with identifying variances from established benchmarks. But, Six Sigma methodology is far more advanced and requires not only well-honed skills of statistical analysis, but also an ability to develop innovative solutions. In other words, having the ability to collect numbers is useless without the corequisite of knowing how to apply them toward problem resolution.

Data Is Only The Beginning

Six Sigma experts are already keenly aware of the value they can offer organizations. But, they must be able to communicate that value in a compelling manner to the executive leadership. They shouldn't over-emphasize the role of statistics and data collection. Instead, Six Sigma Champions should explain the important, but limited, role that numbers play throughout a project's deployment. They should also stress that the true value is found in the methodology that drives change management teams to develop creative solutions to problems.

The numbers behind the process are merely the beginning. Improvements to an organization's performance, customer satisfaction, and production efficiencies lie deeper beneath the surface.

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About the Author

BMGI, one of the leading education and consulting companies in the green belt, six sigma education field, provides volumes of information at


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