New Trend, New Challenges - ASQ

New Trend, New Challenges


A. Blanton Godfrey

During the past year, we have seen a major new trend: integrating Six Sigma with other initiatives. In the last issue of Six Sigma Forum Magazine (November 2002), we focused two of the departments, “Your Opinion” and “Current Literature,” on lean Six Sigma, the integration of Six Sigma with lean thinking.

Now William J. Hill and Willie Kearney describe how they are combining Six Sigma and lean within Honeywell (p. 34). There are many commonalities between the two initiatives but also significant differences.

Many companies have built their Six Sigma programs on an evolutionary staircase of quality methodologies, such as statistical process control, ISO 9000, benchmarking, reengineering, the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award criteria and total quality management (TQM). But this new trend of combination is different.

Rather than adding one step at a time with years-long initiatives, companies are deliberately trying to integrate Six Sigma into existing kaizen or continuous improvement activities and into newly formulated lean enterprise systems. Many companies are also extending Six Sigma into supply chain management activities as they implement new enterprise resource planning systems.

For example, Richard Stahl, Bradley Schultz and Carolyn Pexton give us a glimpse of the future of healthcare (p. 17). They discuss using the foundation methods of Work-Out, kaizen and quality circles and combining them with TQM, lean, Six Sigma and design for Six Sigma (DFSS). The authors present a thought provoking discussion on when to use DFSS.

Many readers have been asking for case studies. Brian Zievis provides an in-depth one of a Six Sigma Black Belt (BB) project applied in the complex world of integrated circuit manufacturing (p. 38). Brian goes further than most in giving us details of the project and many of the challenges he faced.

Another challenge all BBs face is project management. Many companies require formal training in project management, while others are now integrating the essential parts of project management into their BB courses. Donald P. Lynch and Elaine T. Cloutier offer excellent guidelines on how to manage a Six Sigma project (p. 27).

Dealing with the human element can be another difficulty for BBs. Having a technical solution to a problem does little if we cannot get our colleagues to actually implement the solution. Our guest editorial this month (p. 8) is by Deborah Hopen, a person who deals with this problem constantly. As editor of the Journal for Quality and Participation for the Association for Quality and Participation (an affiliate of ASQ), Debbie sees the human side much better than most.

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