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Six Sigma In A Small Business

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As a small business owner, you will eventually sense the need for Six Sigma implementation in your business.

Typically, yours is a 3-5 year old company on the threshold of expanding your operations to meet the growing customer expectations but is cornered to optimize your resources on generating more sales than anything else. Small companies in the bracket of 50-100 employees (most of them being non technical) and revenue of $10-15 million find themselves in this fix. The predicament at this stage is one of a person who is caught between a tiger and cliff.

Finding A Way Out Of The Jam

The situation needs to be given a rational thought concerning how many resources can be afforded and whether the time has really come for Six Sigma. The cost of hiring consultants being hardly affordable, you have to explore options like hiring a Black Belt and having some of your employees trained in-house for Green Belt positions.

What you probably don’t want to miss out on in hiring an experienced Black Belt, although expensive, are the benefits you get because of her/his domain knowledge and experience. Her proven track record will have the best chances of outweighing the initial cost benefit of grooming in-house Black Belts. An experienced Black Belt helps by bringing the focus immediately into a pressing issue on hand which is crucially important to the organization. Alternately, your best man with brilliant analytical and leadership skills may be trained as a Black Belt, and you may enroll in a Champion Session.

The trouble with this kind of an arrangement is whether you can afford to lose your best person from his current job. Enrolling Black Belts, can be an option for you, but you must realize that it takes some time before the new Black Belts get acclimatized with your scheme of things. At the same time, Green Belts, most often being part-time, don’t need to be of high skill. Choosing a few reasonable persons from your organization will suffice. A great Black Belt can take minor shortcomings of Green Belts in stride and things will eventually balance out.

Resolving The Issue Of The Master Black Belt

Even an experienced Black Belt will need the support of a Master Black Belt. The vacuum can be felt typically when the Black Belt finds herself in a logjam. A typical case could be one of technical or organizational reasons. But hiring Master Black Belts is a costly proposal. Secondly, growing and training Master Black Belts in house is also impractical. You will have to hire a consulting Master Black Belt.

But getting a professional is not easy, especially when many of them are more interested in increasing ‘their-hours-in-work’ than in the task. You can consult your state’s ‘Manufacturing Extension Programs’ or a trusted contact to refer you to a consulting Master Black Belt. In any case, with you at the helm of affairs, you will know when to pull the plug when something is not working out.

Caution Is The Word

Probably you would want to go one project at a time. Assessing your progress at intervals should direct the course of action. Brainstorm with your internal team to decide on activities to go for Six Sigma and which of the activities are measurable. Establishing measurability and metrics beforehand is important.

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Tony Jacowski is a quality analyst for The MBA Journal. Aveta Solution’s Six Sigma Online offers online six sigma training and certification classes for lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.

Six Sigma In A Small Business
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  • Guest

    Perhaps lean six sigma certification would help, it wouldn’t hurt to have these skills in small businesses as well as larger corporations.

    Organizational skills and efficiency always help.