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Effective Leadership: The Influence of Six Sigma

Tue, 15 Dec 2015 14:00:00 +0000 / by Raymond E. DiDonna

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Several years ago I was part of General Electric's world renowned Six Sigma process improvement initiative. The program itself was well developed and GE, among many other companies, derived great value from exercising the methodology.

While I haven't done true Six Sigma work for quite a while, I had the occasion recently to reflect on the methodology and think about how Six Sigma has influenced my leadership style here at LOGiQ3.

First, for those not so familiar, Six Sigma, in its many forms, is a highly analytical process improvement methodology aimed at significantly lowering errors (known as defects) in any business process you can measure.  For those more interested, any internet search on "Six Sigma" will turn up countless formal definitions.  In addition, Six Sigma is not just focused on decreasing errors in the short term, but in keeping errors as low as possible indefinitely. 

Second, Six Sigma is not an easy-to-use, anyone-can-do-it methodology.  It requires analytical skill, lots of measurable data, and a long term organizational commitment.   

You never know where the data may take you and you have to be prepared as an organization to sometimes face difficult truths.

Anyway, as I've moved on to several leadership roles since learning Six Sigma I was asked how it has impacted my leadership style and, so, I had the opportunity to do a little reflecting.  What I found was that, while I don't think about Six Sigma day to day, I actually continue to follow its key principles regularly.  Below are a few examples of Six Sigma principles that drive how I operate and how I lead an organization with a mission as unique as LOGiQ3’s.

Six Sigma Principle: Understanding what's important to customers and making sure our improvement efforts are focused on delighting customers. 

There are many ways to find out what your customers value, but the simplest way is to ask.  Once you know, you can measure how you are doing and compare that to what your customer expects.  If you are doing well, great.  But, if not, you have found the place to work on first.

Six Sigma Principle: Focus on measuring your processes. 

And not just those that are easy to measure, but those that are most important to your customers and your business.  If you measure the right processes on a regular basis, you will create the right transparency both with your customers and with your team, and you will be better positioned to stay focused on what matters most, both internally and externally.

Six Sigma Principle: Continuous Improvement. 

While it's always important to celebrate your successes, don't ever get lulled into thinking you do everything perfectly. You should always be looking for what can be done better. Believe me, there is always something.  And you're just not being honest with yourself if you answer otherwise.

So, when I put everything above together, I realized that Six Sigma has had a tremendous impact on how I lead a team and how I conduct my business life every day.  It has become the way I work and how my team works (whether they know it or not).  And after reflecting on that, I concluded that learning about Six Sigma was an education my career couldn't have done without.

If Six Sigma is something that interests you, or if you would simply like to discuss more about what it is and how it works, I'd love to hear from you in the comments section below.

 

Topics: Thought Leadership

Raymond E. DiDonna

Written by Raymond E. DiDonna

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