Top 10 Mistakes When Managing a Six Sigma Project

Whether you are a new practitioner or seasoned pro, mistakes are inevitable in complex projects. In fact, the saying goes that you aren’t a true project manager before your first catastrophe. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t learn from the mistakes of others (Lessons Learned, to those in the know!). Below are the top 10 mistakes most people make when managing a Six Sigma project, with ways to avoid falling into the same traps in the future.

Top Ten Mistakes!

  1. Apathetic Leadership. Effective Six Sigma deployment depends on management to lead and motivate the team. The more time you invest in the project and your team, the more likely success will be achieved. Leadership should be a source of support, emphasizing the importance of Six Sigma, and setting an example for the team. Remember, a motivated team is an effective one!
  2. Unsuitable Deployment Strategy. Your deployment strategy affects the ultimate success of your project. If it’s faulty to begin with, then this will cause major problems down the line. By evaluating the strategy regularly, analyzing it, you will become more aware of any extant problems. This will allow you to make viable changes based on accurate data, to improve your chances of success.
  3.  Unnecessary Pressure for Further Training and Certification. While training is an essential factor, you shouldn’t pressure them to acquire further training and certification without valid reasoning. Yellow Belt responsibilities, for example, are different to Black Belt so that extra training won’t benefit the project. Allocate your roles appropriately, based on training and certification already acquired.
  4.  Training as Distraction. Just as pressure for extra training can be redundant, it can also be distracting, and lead to a lack of focus. Team members will lose their grasp of Six Sigma basics if you bombard them with lots of new information. The project will start to become unstable if you don’t provide adequate mentoring and coaching to ensure the people who need extra training receive support.
  5.  Poor Project Selection. Lack of focus and poor prioritization will almost certainly lead to a lack of data and poor project handling. Taking on a project outside the capabilities of your Black Belts and Green Belts can quickly lead to a breakdown. To avoid this, projects with a strong focus on the business’s financial, production and customer service goals will help you prioritize which ones to take on.
  6. Unequal Distribution of Effort. Remember, Six Sigma relies on collaboration, so every individual should give the same. While every member is responsible for project success, it can quickly break down if they don’t understand the benefits. Therefore, it is up to the project team to detail to the rest of the company how closely linked deployment goals are with those of the individual and the business.
  7. Uncertain Availability of Resources. The project is a team effort, though usually Champions only handle resources. Non-availability of key resources, i.e. a skilled team member, can affect project scope, timelines, and ultimate success. An inventory and role call can prevent this.
  8. Lack of Scope. Not being able to think broadly can hold a Six Sigma project back. From the beginning, starting with your Project Charter, outline the key objectives of the project. You should also list the problems involved, and how they affect the company.
  9. No Knowledge of Potential Business Impact. While you may know a Six Sigma project is needed, the business may not be so sure. Potential Business Impact should be calculated in the first stage of DMAIC. This ensures the stakeholder is on board with the project. Doing so will set an example for the rest of the team, allowing them to achieve the best results.
  10. Lack of Support from Key Stakeholders. The key stakeholders must grant initiation approval for the project. It shows your project is a priority for their business. A lack of support on their end can only cause disillusionment from the project for the team. Once you know who your Champion is, it becomes far easier to overcome obstacles to the project goals.

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