Prerequisites for Six Sigma Projects

To succeed at any Six Sigma project, you need a few key things:

  1. A project worth doing. This means that it should be worth at least $250,000 in savings. This applies to any business over $5 million in annual revenue. (Smaller businesses should look for at least $50-100,000.) If it's not worth doing, find a better project.
  2. A project concerned with operational problems that you can DIRECTLY control. You can't directly impact customer perceptions of your business, but you can improve your speed and quality. You can't make customers talk about your product or service, but you can improve it so much that they can't help but brag about it.
  3. Available data about the project. This means that you need measurements of the problem over time. And you need the underlying measures of various contributors to the problem to be able to laser focus your analysis. If you don't have the data, you will have to start collecting it. But this takes time. Isn't there a different $250,000 project that has all the data you need to get started right now?
  4. An operational manager or leader who wants to solve the problem. Without sponsorship, most projects will fail because you won't get the time and resources you need to succeed.
  5. An experienced Six Sigma guide who can help you laser focus the effort, find the root causes, and implement solutions in a matter of days not months.

If you don't have one of these prerequisites, spend the time to change your focus or get what you need to move forward. Otherwise you're just wasting your time and you're doomed to failure.

But when you meet these prerequisites, your chances of success soar. When you have a worthwhile project, the data to support it, committed leaders, and an experienced guide you can get results in days or weeks, not months or years. 

Rights to reprint this article in company periodicals is freely given with the inclusion of the following tag line: "© 2008 Jay Arthur, the KnowWare® Man, (888) 468-1537,"

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