six-sigma

Six Sigma – Pros and Cons

Six Sigma and other hoaxes has been around for longer than it should. In most cases Six Sigma would be an impediment for productivity. Let me put forth my thoughts on pros and cons of buzz word laden methodologies like Six Sigma.

Pros:

  • Attractive Name for sure
  • Another way to earn money by not doing any real work
  • MAY be of some use in manufacturing WHEN the skill of the labor does not matter (Say a mass production system where machines takes more of control and the human element is limited to movement of raw materials between machines or taking a reading from a machine, etc..)

Cons:

  • No practical use to any other segment other than simple manufacturing. Especially in technology segments where innovation and creativity rules.
  • It would practically kill innovation many times over
  • Most of the “tools” are decorations over plain common sense. For instance, Common Sense dictates that you go to the customer and get his feedback. But telling that Six Sigma invented this process (based out of common sense) is an overkill. Six Sigma practitioners terms this part of common sense as “voice of customer”. But it was happening even before the “invention” of six sigma. Finally it tries to make itself relevant by promoting various documentation templates and even more attractive names.
  • Six Sigma provides employees a solid reason to avoid real productive work by pretending as if they are busy engaged in six sigma activities. Unfortunately management tends to reward these kind of people for their “dedication” towards six sigma which in turn demoralizes an otherwise able performer who silently kept contributing to the bottom line. So this is a two fold problem.
  • Reduced personal touch and inclination to treat humans as commodities. Which may not work well in a professional ambiance.
  • When a project is successful, the “process” takes all the credit. When the project fails, the developers take up all the blame.
  • Requires otherwise useless department like the so called “Quality Control” Department (the Six Sigma and “Process” guys) whose salary may start at $80000-$100000. I believe this amount could instead be donated to some social welfare causes instead of paying to these people who have no idea of the technology driving the business and have no idea about the market. Processes and Methodologies like Six Sigma mandates a department such as this. And even if you have such department, it should be renamed as “Methodology Department” for it has no relationship with the quality of the deliverable whatsoever. I wonder how are they able to take their pay checks without any sense of guilt – of continuously fooling an organization about a hyped up buzz word.
  • The inventor of Six Sigma – Motorola – was on the brink of extinction until Google came to rescue. GE which practiced Six Sigma religiously required itself to be bailed out. So much for productivity gains.