Q3. What role should six sigma play in corporate strategy?
Six sigma is a methodology and describes the process of;
Define – Measure – Analyse – Improve- Control
This process means that Six sigma has to be kept in mind from the identification of needs and objectives all the way through to when the objectives are met and need to be sustained. When Six sigma is implemented within 3M, different objectives will be set with six sigma and the reduction of waste in mind. These objectives are usually linked to specific business processes which have been prioritised for specific reasons such as value to the business or resources required. Once these objectives have been set, Six sigma shapes the plan or strategy of how these objectives can be achieved, this means the Six sigma programme has to be closely aligned to corporate strategy.
Some organisations choose to implement Six sigma as a separate organisation which makes measuring the success of the programme easier. 3M on the other hand has decided to employ the strategy internally, allowing it to create an organisation wide common language. Choosing to implement it in this way means that Six sigma will be ever present within almost all of the organisational functions and activities.
Corporate strategy is often seen as a concern only for upper and middle management, however when employed, Six sigma will mean that corporate strategy will be a concern from the bottom up as it creates universal goals throughout the organisation and its departments. This sometimes results in a shift (both intentionally and non-intentionally) in an organisations culture. Upper management will have to take precautions however, so the Six sigma programme does not disrupt 3M’s strategy so much that the company’s vision is blurred which could lead to things such as a decrease in innovation (something that 3M has relied upon since being founded in 1902.) This could also lead to a weak brand identity. This issue however has been addressed at 3M which will be discussed in more detail later on in the report.
Q4. What are the Human Resource Implications for deploying Six sigma?
There are many implications on HR when introducing the Six sigma programme. The HR department in 3M is likely to spend a lot of time and effort in ensuring the programme is a success both in roles directly linked to Six sigma and in roles which have the capabilities of supporting the implementation and running of six sigma.
Firstly Six sigma within 3M will have an affect on the organisational structure. The programme uses a belt system (with the different levels and responsibilities shown in Appendix 1.)HR will be responsible for selecting the most suitable employee/candidate for some of these roles such as the black belts, which in itself can be not only complex but vital to the success of the Six sigma projects. Black belts must be chosen carefully as they are the driving force behind the projects involved in the programme, they play pivotal roles in the process and can be seminal in the readiness of employees when adopting the changes rooting from Six sigma. HR will also have the job of ensuring all members of staff with roles to play in the Six sigma process are given relevant, adequate and efficient training in order to carry out their tasks effectively.
Another important aspect regarding Six sigma is the reward systems accompanying it, which also could be a consideration for HR. Sometimes existing systems in place can be adapted to compliment six sigma but in other cases new systems must be developed for the scheme to work. Deciding on such systems can be one of the most challenging features to decide upon when introducing the programme as a project team can be made up of a variety of different types of employees with varying salaries, responsibilities and knowledge and/or input into Six sigma, so deciding on a fair reward system can easily debated by employees involved. High achieving project teams...
References: Appendix 1 - http://www.isixsigma.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1358:&Itemid=111
The Fundamentals of Operations Management(4th edition-2003) – Davis, Aquilano, Chase
All about six sigma: the easy way to get started (2006) - Warren Brussee
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