The perfect business solution doesn’t exist.

There’s no catch-all organizational structure, no bullet-proof product development strategies, and no one-size-fits-all sales tactics. Every business has different needs, which means no single solution will work for every business.

Six Sigma is no different. It’s not perfect. But when you start digging through some of the methodology’s most common complaints, something becomes clear…

Six Sigma’s primary drawback isn’t the complexity of implementation, or the uncompromising frameworks, or the extended data gathering that has to happen throughout projects.

No – instead, it’s almost always the human element; it’s the people who are unwilling, for whatever reason, to let the methodology work the way it’s supposed to.

Perceived Six Sigma Drawbacks

Some people have genuinely negative experiences with Six Sigma. There’s no denying that. But almost all of the most common points of failure in Six Sigma implementation have to do with emotion, improvisation or assumption – three human characteristics that a methodology is metaphysically incapable of demonstrating.

Here are a few examples:

“Six Sigma is designed to improve processes, but my business isn’t about processes. It’s about relationships.”

Sure. In sales-dependent organizations or departments, for example, processes aren’t as visible as they are in the manufacturing sector. But make no mistake – processes do exist in relationship management. The best salespeople are often those who have a plan for outreach, a system for handling rebuttals and a framework for targeting a customer’s needs and expectations. Six Sigma can help improve all of that, when it’s executed properly.

“Six Sigma is focused on improving existing processes, but it doesn’t leave room for innovation.”

Not true. Six Sigma can often uncover huge gaps in organizational processes, which encourages decision makers to reevaluate (and sometimes reimagine) entire systems and ordinances – all in the name of efficiency and consistency. Meanwhile, innovation for the sake of innovation can often lead to exorbitant development costs, lack of focus, loss of productivity and worse.

“We don’t have the talent in-house to make Six Sigma work.”

I get it. At the highest level, there’s a lot of statistics that go into a Six Sigma initiative. But, you don’t have to implement Six Sigma “at the highest level” to see significant returns. Most of the principles are simple and easy to use, you can literally put them to work today. It’s part of what makes the methodology so flexible and powerful.

A Long-Sustaining Methodology

There are hundreds of reasons why Six Sigma “won’t work” in an organization, but the bottom line is simple: if Six Sigma didn’t create measurable results, successful companies – like Amazon, Boeing, Ford, General Electric, McKesson, Motorola, the U.S. military, and countless others – wouldn’t waste their time with it. If it was a fad, it would’ve gone the way of “matrix management” and “management by consensus.” Instead, it’s been redefining companies since the 1980s.

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