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Ways to Help Six Sigma Changes Last

By Bisk
Six Sigma Checklist for Sustaining Change

Six Sigma is a methodology used to help bring change to a process. Every stage of Six Sigma’s DMAIC methodology exists to help a project team improve processes by implementing change. However, creating and implementing process changes is only half the battle.

Once the change is put into place, it needs to stay in place. Six Sigma’s intense focus on change must be followed by an equally intense focus on making that change last.

Anticipate resistance potential with force field analysis

No matter how great the improvement a Six Sigma project brings, there is always the potential for some form of resistance to the new process. Being prepared for impending opposition can make resistance much easier to overcome.

Force Field Analysis helps project teams gauge potential resistance to a project by measuring the pros and cons it is expected to create.

For example, if the proposed change is to purchase new manufacturing equipment, factors that support the change include higher productivity, lower product cost and better product quality. These are the enabling forces. They are opposed by resisting forces which might include: cost of new equipment, disruption of production and employee fear of new technology.

When enabling forces and resisting forces are equal, acceptance is unlikely. Force field analysis helps project teams identify where to focus their energy. The creator of force field analysis, Kurt Lewin, taught that the most elegant way to implement change is to reduce the intensity of the resisting forces.

In the case of buying new manufacturing equipment, the project team might focus on decreasing resistance by providing employee training and reducing new equipment costs.

Create a Checklist for Change

There are six elements that can help a new change become a permanent part of operations. Create a checklist and make sure to touch on each of these concepts.

  • Early Successes – Creating a project plan that helps the team score quick wins early in the process can create positive morale and momentum.
  • Leadership Commitment – Permanent change typically requires support and energy from team sponsors, time and resources from employees, and funding from the company. Leadership can demonstrate its commitment to eliminating the old process and making the new process the only alternative.
  • Excitement – Excitement plays an important role in making change last. The project team can create enthusiasm for change by promoting the benefits of the new process.
  • Resources – Leadership increases the odds of creating lasting change by providing the appropriate time and money to make the project fully operational.
  • Integration – The new process must be compatible with current ones. Different departments that can communicate well help ensure new and existing processes dovetail seamlessly.
  • Recording Lessons Learned – What a Six Sigma team learns can be just as important as the new process that it creates. Detailed process documentation helps ensure that the lessons learned by the project team will be remembered for future projects.

The inertia of an old process can be a powerful force. Even if it didn’t work well, its ghost can linger to haunt the new process and inhibit organizations from fully embracing a necessary change. Be proactive and don’t lose focus, use Force Field Analysis and a Checklist for Change to help your new Six Sigma changes last.

Category: Lean Six Sigma