Case Study Of Six Sigma

761 Words 4 Pages
The tragic case of John Smithers, who unsuccessfully worked to implement a Six Sigma program at Sigtek in 2002, is a perfect example of a company that trumpeted the idea of total quality without properly putting in the work necessary to make an effective change. Although the evidence strongly suggests that Smithers was doomed from the outset, there are some actions he could have taken to improve his chances of success. Smithers primarily had a “people problem”, where various parties were either reluctant or resistant to the new program. To resolve these issues, he should have tried the following: establish an honest dialogue with the resistant mid-level managers, devised a more specific Six Sigma platform which pertained directly to Sigtek, …show more content…
Ashwin Srinivasan and Bryan Kurey reinforce this point in a 2014 Harvard Business Review article: “Even when executives have the best intentions, there are often gaps between what they say and what they do. As a result, employees get mixed messages about whether quality is truly important.” (Srinivasan & Kurey, 2014) This was clearly a major issue in the case of Smithers. During the original leadership meetings on Six Sigma, managers and senior executives were almost completely silent after the seminar and did not even bother to ask questions. Furthermore, when Smithers inquired to workers about specific operations which could be improved upon (the most prominent example being the “bouncing boards” issue), he soon discovered that mid-level managers frequently punished said workers for addressing problems that management believed to be unimportant and non-essential. (Jick, 2002) Smithers could have pressed managers to air their doubts and grievances about the Six Sigma program. This may have made these managers more amenable to these changes, and not feel like it was a foreign directive from an outside parent …show more content…
Aside from a generic six-point list of principles, Smithers did not tailor his program to fit the needs of Sigtek, either in engineering or operations. (Jick, 2002) According to a 2010 IndustryWeek article entitled “Transforming Quality Culture,” this is a crucial point for institutional change: “Establishing a culture of quality requires a different set of strategic skills than those employed in quality 's yesteryear. Again, there is no single solution, because different companies are at different starting points in their quality journey. But we believe that a key driver of future success will be the place where such conversations and initiatives start: the quality function.” (Ebert et al, 2010) Had Smithers spent more time asking employees at all levels about specific inefficiencies, and perhaps initiated a dialogue between labor and management, it is possible that he may have been able to incorporate these findings into a more specialized Six Sigma

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