The Project Management Institute (PMI) published some startling numbers in their 2018 Pulse of the Profession report…
Organizations, on average, waste almost one cent of every dollar they invest. No big deal, right? Well, let’s scale that up and say it in a different way:
According to the report, organizations waste $99 million of every $1 billion they invest.
Ninety-nine million dollars. That’s about the equivalent of 2,200 annual salaries for full-time employees in the United States, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
And for many organizations, strategies like Six Sigma aren’t the answer. Strategic initiatives were actually part of the problem, because they failed so frequently.
Why’d those initiatives fail?
The primary cause of failure, PMI reported, was a lack of clearly defined objectives and milestones to measure performance.
It sounds obvious, but it’s a mistake that many businesses make – moving forward with an initiative, like Six Sigma, isn’t going to work if you don’t have a plan.
Have you ever tried to assemble furniture without instructions? Have you ever tried to cook a meal for the first time, using only your memory of the recipe?
Things don’t turn out well.
That’s why Six Sigma tollgates exist.
Six Sigma Tollgates
Tollgates are brilliant quality assurance measures, baked right into the DMAIC framework. They’re milestones that occur at every stage of DMAIC, and they ensure the project is on the right track from beginning to end.
Before teams finish the Define phase, seasoned Six Sigma managers will ensure that three major milestones have been completed – (1) the team needs to agree on a project charter, which defines the scope and direction of the project; (2) the team needs to agree on the customer’s needs and requirements; and (3) someone needs to map out, step-by-step, how the product or service will eventually reach the customer.
There are three steps in the Measure phase, as well. (1) The team needs to agree on what metrics are being measured; (2) clarify how data will be collected; and (3) set a baseline measure for performance, so you know what you need to improve on.
Three tollgates, just like the two preceding phases. (1) Agree, as a team, on potential root causes of problems; (2) isolate potential root causes; and (3) identify the critical root cause(s).
(1) As a team, generate possible solutions to the critical root cause of the problem; (2) together, select the best and most realistic solutions; and (3) implement those solutions.
(1) Continue to measure performance; (2) create a response plan for potential problems that may arise; (3) create a continual improvement plan, to maintain momentum moving forward.
There are 15 tollgates in total, and each of them serves a very clear and rational purpose. If you’re following all 15, it’s hard to get off track implementing Six Sigma.
Don’t waste even one cent of every dollar you invest. Get your project right the first time.