Critical Success Factors for Six Sigma
Critical Success Factors for Six Sigma. Photo by
Bernard Goldbach

Characteristics of a high-functioning 6 Sigma organization

  • Customer focus
  • Process focus
  • Culture focus
    • You should move towards making a Six Sigma culture in an initiative immediately.
    • Management: Active management involvement is key in establishing a Six Sigma initiative.
      • Understand importance of management involvement in implementation of Six Sigma
      • Link Six Sigma to corporate objectives
        • One of the ways management can demonstrate their involvement is by linking projects to the organization’s objectives
      • Establish facts and data as dominant decision-making method
      • Expect Six Sigma as a job expectation
      • Actively communicate Six Sigma
      • Ensure first wave projects are successful
        • First wave projects MUST generate results or your program may be in trouble.
  • Do not focus on tactics or statistics.

 Choosing 6 Sigma Projects

When choosing a project, what are some of the most important criteria to judge against?

In the beginning of a Six Sigma initiative

  • First wave projects MUST generate results or your program may be in trouble.
  • Resistance rears its ugly head

Pitfalls to Avoid in Implementing Six Sigma

  • Don’t manage products and services instead of processes.
  • Don’t focus on Six Sigma tactics at the beginning.
  • Six Sigma is NOT best described as a quality program.
  • You should not focus on cost savings ONLY when trying to implement a Six Sigma initiative.
  • A black belt should really (ideally) be a full-time job.
  • A green belt should really (ideally) be a part-time job
  • Don’t forget to look at the entire organization and just focus on your immediate process.
    • Individual managers optimizing their own process may or may not benefit the customer. In fact, sometimes if a department is optimized in the eyes of that department’s manager, the internal customer of that operation may get too much product and as such will incur excess inventory


Six Sigma Black Belt Certification Critical Success Factor Questions:

Question: The primary factor in the successful implementation of six sigma is to have: (Taken from ASQ sample Black Belt exam.)

(A) the necessary resources
(B) the support and leadership of top management
(C) explicit customer requirements
(D) a comprehensive training program

Answer: (B) the support and leadership of top management. Since they control all of the resources and the strategic direction of the company, senior management buy-in is essential. Without it, options a and d are irrelevant. Option c, explicit requirements and voice of client, are essential for a successful project but you don’t get to do many projects if senior management isn’t interested in making it all happen.

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