Six Sigma used to be only a quality improvement initiative, but now it is a total continuous improvement program. Motorola University, seedbed of the original Six Sigma, has devised a New Six Sigma to address the contemporary requirements of Motorola and other businesses. Six Sigma began with a focus on eliminating defects and reducing the variability of processes. That worked well through the 1990s, but then began to have less relevance. Many business people objected to Six Sigma because they considered it complicated, slow and mainly applicable to manufacturing and engineering.
New Six Sigma overcomes those objections with a set of leadership principles and techniques. Motorola University research revealed that the best-performing executive teams recognize and execute short-term priorities, keep the long-term priorities in sight and behave with ethical integrity. Given that, the New Six Sigma leadership principles are:
o Align customer needs with strategy and processes using a business model based on the Baldridge framework and a set of goals, targets and measures.
o Mobilize teams with work, methodologies, charters, metrics, training and empowerment.
o Accelerate the use of action learning to combine classes with project work and coaching.
o Govern using scorecards, dashboards and metrics. The New Six Sigma techniques (also called “tools and processes”) are:
o VCC – This is the concrete, specific Voice of the Customer, which defines needs.
o Balanced Scorecard – This is a simple, clear way to communicate vision and mission.
o Accelerated Business Improvement – This redesign process works to deliver what the customer expects.
o High-Performance Teams – These multi-functional teams focus on the customer.
o Black Belt teams – These teams tackle the most complex and difficult projects.
o Blitz Teams – These teams are used when action is more urgent than accuracy.
o Integrated Business Review – This is a summary review using a dashboard.
Define – Motorola engaged Bain & Company consultants to define the effect of a potential leadership shortage. Bain’s analysis suggested that, on average, corporations have only three-quarters of the executive material they need and that inadequate leadership could be costly. A survey by McKinsey found that most executives say they have a chronic shortage of the talented people they need. Armed with this information, Motorola studied its human resources pool and concluded that it would be short about 200 managers/leaders by 2004.
Measure/Analyze – Motorola’s analysts studied a leader’s career much as they would study any business process. They identified a process, systems and subsystems such as recruitment, training, career planning, performance measurement, compensation and so on. Motorola benchmarked its performance in these processes against carefully selected companies that consistently created shareholder value.
o Implement – Motorola simplified the various processes and sub-processes into six categories for management: performance, talent, recruitment, career development, transition, remuneration/rewards. It implemented Web-based talent management systems and established an Office of Leadership.
o Control – Every Motorola business uses standard methodologies to identify leaders and match them with appropriate positions. The application of Six Sigma to leadership development delivered impressive results. New leaders filled 63 of the 100 most urgent jobs. In 2002, a new COO and CFO were put into place within 100 days. Motorola racked up a 98% success rate in retaining top level talent and institutionalized its leadership supply systems.