Sigma Science Inc. provides informal support to Engineers and Masters as long as requested at no cost to the organization. These long-term relationships with individuals provide guidance and assistance beyond the formal organizational engagement.
As we discuss in Common Myths About Six Sigma, one difference between most Six Sigma type initiatives and preceding quality improvement efforts is that work is organized around projects and project iteration. Ideally, the projects flow down from business strategies and provide a connection between senior and lower-level management. The strengths of a project focus are:
- The removal of uncertainty concerning where management wants work directed;
- Required practice in application of the Sigma Science concepts and tools while undergoing training (thus, promoting more critical thought and appropriate tool usage);
- A strengthened understanding of the need for a combination of good process and engineering knowledge and statistical thinking; and
- The development of an appreciation for the strengths and limitations of the methods learned.
On the other hand, certain characteristics of project work can help shorten the life of a Sigma Science initiative if not managed properly (see Considerations for Project Selection). First, the nature of project work is of finite duration. Individuals often conclude, “I’ve finished my Sigma Science project, so I’m returning to my normal work”. As a result of short-term focus on specific projects, the organization may undergo the usual burst of improvement only to eventually return to status quo. Often, the selection of project objectives by management restrict the investigators to narrow or inflexible paths of work, not allowing for sequential evolution of investigative direction based on the knowledge acquired. Finally, project orientation often focuses the work on the problems themselves and not on the processes that cause the problem. We recommend that the Sigma Science projects are handled and reported in the manner that current projects are handled and reported. Concurrently, managers are educated and required to change the manner in which they ask question and direct work in their respective organizations.