How to Prevent Your Lean Six Sigma Projects From Failing

Posted by on Oct 29, 2012 in Lean Six Sigma | 0 comments

Ron Snee (2002) defines a Six Sigma project as “a problem scheduled for solution that has a set of metrics that can be used to set project goals and monitor progress.”  But sometimes, no matter the metric, the goals set, or how closely we monitor a project, it fails despite our best efforts.  There are a number of reasons this can happen.  Here are some that I’ve ran into:

  • Lack of resources.  Not allocating enough time, energy, or having the right team members can cause a project to fail.  Having team members that are dedicated to resolving the issue is extremely important.  Often people have a hidden agenda that may disrupt a project and cause it to fail.  Teams and managers need to allocate enough time to the project to make sure it is successful.  This is difficult since many team members are often part-time and have a full-time job they need to do.
  • Lack of management commitment.  Management must provide the necessary resources and be committed to making the project succeed.  They need to regularly ask the status of the project and be willing to remove any barriers the team may encounter.  They need to be engaged in the tollgate reviews and make sure the team stays focused.
  • Lack of sufficient analysis.  Sometimes teams treat the symptoms of a problem and don’t understand the true cause which leads them to apply “band-aid”  or “shotgun”solutions.
  • Solution is too costly.  Teams need to implement the most effective, least expensive solution.  There is a tendency to jump to a solution without completely understanding how effective it will be.  The team needs to take the time and evaluate several solutions.  In the end, it may be a combination of things that work best.

What do you do if you find yourself involved in a project you think might fail?  I suggest you have a discussion with your team members and team leader first to see if you can iron out the issues you see.  If that doesn’t work and you can’t resolve things, talk it over with the project sponsor and state your concerns.  A lot rides on your ability to work as a team member and resolve organizational issues.  Don’t take it lightly, since your reputation as someone that can get things done may suffer.

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