A Crucial Strategy for the Success of Six Sigma Implementation
Volume 6, Number 6, November 2010 - Paper 5 - pp. 587-593
DAVID MAXFIELDVice President,
(Received on October 3, 2009, revised on December 11, 2009)
Communication can be a predictor of and inoculation against the success of any Six Sigma process. When the communication process breaks down, Six Sigma inevitably breaks down. And most often, communication fails during what we call "crucial conversations"— high-stakes disagreements that involve strong emotions and differing opinions. VitalSmarts researchers sought to identify a relatively small set of common, costly, and difficult to discuss problems, and to measure their impact on Six Sigma projects. The researchers at VitalSmarts found five common problems that spell the difference between success and failure of a Six Sigma project. These five problems demand special attention within Six Sigma deployments and they were encountered by more than 90 percent of the Black Belts in our sample. When left unresolved, these problems caused missed timelines, unachieved quality and savings goals, dissatisfied sponsors and process owners, and poor morale. When addressed and resolved, these problems were not major obstacles to Six Sigma success. However, fewer than 20 percent of the Black Belts surveyed did address and resolve them. Research by VitalSmarts also reveals that the problem is not that Six Sigma teams encounter problems; rather the problem is that they fail to openly discuss and effectively resolve a specific set of common issues using the skills and principles of crucial conversations.
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