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She thinks that 6S practices can be valuable in areas like manufacturing, where the activities are routine (and likely to stay that way) but need to be more efficient.
But I think it always has to be leavened a bit with a focus on innovation and [customer relationships].” Brushing aside criticism that 6S inhibits rather than encourages innovation, Forrest Breyfogle, CEO Smarter Solutions, says: “this could be the case in an organization’s Lean Six Sigma deployment, where focus is given to the search for projects and their completion.
In these organizations, primary focus can be for black-belt or green-belt certification upon project completion.
This kind of innovation may be crowded out when you focus too much on processes you can measure,” she says.
Herve Wilczynski, an expert on overall performance improvement for asset intensive industries and principal with Booz Allen Hamilton, however, corroborates Nichols view saying that Six Sigma is useful to focus organizations to create an environment for positive change.
, most of the CEOs sang the Six Sigma song in chorus and eventually did come up with some cost savings, say the myriad industry reports.
However, there seems to be a mixed reaction from quality experts on the effectiveness of 6S and its applications.“In the appropriate setting, process management activities can help companies improve efficiency, but the risk is that you misapply these programs, in particular in areas where people are supposed to be innovative,” notes Benner.“Brand new technologies which produce products that don’t exist are difficult to measure.But for Professor Mary Benner from the Wharton School of Management, Six Sigma doesn’t gel with innovation.She says that as people in an organization are closely adhering to standard processes and improving how the organization currently operates, the company can become less innovative in new areas and less able to change to respond to external changes.That makes it a powerful tool-if those are a company’s goals.But as innovation becomes the cause , companies are increasingly confronting the side effects of a Six Sigma culture,” he says adding; “process management is a good thing.“It is difficult to measure the potential sales in the future of new technologies that don’t yet exist, products that have not yet been developed, for customers you don’t yet know.So the shift in attention to measurable improvements can dampen innovation into new areas,” says Benner.While some management professionals feel that Six Sigma hasn’t lost its sheen yet and is still serving the purpose it was initially designed for, many are opposed to the idea and consider 6S as a mere appraisal tool which has been over-rated mostly as a result of marketing and overexcited public relations.They say that the days of 6S glory are over and its’ no more an easy sell now.