Six sygmies of the world unite – and all read the June 11, 2007 of Business Week. Not one but two BW articles deliver supporters of applying six sigma outside of manufacturing their well-deserved comeuppance. But the real question is – why would anyone in their right mind have ever believed that a process improvement approach developed for low variability, high repetition, production worker settings would deliver anything but disappointment in high variability, low repetition, empowered worked environments?
We’ve been preaching this message to clients for almost ten years. Fortunately, the majority got the message in time. And not only did we talk about the problem, we did something about it by developing Visual Workflow as an antidote to utilizing manufacturing-based process approaches (including lean and “lean sigma”) where they don’t belong. And VW is no longer the only process approach out there designed for variable work environments, so there’s less and less excuse for trying to hog-tie employees with six sigma when they attain efficiency and effectiveness through flexibility, not rigidity.
Good to see mainstream business thinkers getting the message, too. It’s about time.