The Psychology of Quality and More
The Social Success of Six Sigma
~ David Straker ~
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A truer understanding
It can be argued that deepest underlying reason for the failure of business improvement fail is a simple lack of understanding. This can occur in the identification and analysis of the problem, the identification of a solution. It can also occur in the management of improvement, from the overall programme to the implementation of change.
The classic implementation of Six Sigma includes significant education in which the traditional hurried one- to three-day overview is replaced with in-depth training that leads to real expertise. A well-educated Black Belt can approach a problem with a wealth of expertise rather than the cookie-cutter checklist of people whose training is measured on cost rather than real skill increase.
Statistics have been described as ‘the mathematics of reality’ as with proper use they can highlight real significance. This is in contrast to the many traps into which ‘intuitive’ approaches can demonstrably fall. There are many books and articles on ‘why decisions fail’, many of which are based in sound psychological studies.
Statistics also has a social dynamic in that it adds to the mystique of Six Sigma and adds credibility to Six Sigma Professionals, despite the fact that many improvements either do not need statistics or do not operate with sufficient frequency to enable significant statistical analysis.
Many previous approaches to improvement have assumed this work being done as a part-time activity by people who have other jobs. Whilst it is important to engage people who are involved in the processes to be improved, Six Sigma recognises that improvement is both important enough and difficult enough that full-time improvement professionals are a critical part of the landscape.
And the big