There’s a lot to six sigma beyond its use in the manufacturing and supply chain industry. Today, six sigma tools and methodologies are used across industries and have helped global companies achieve efficiency and reduce variability.
While the process is data-driven and the method heavily relies on statistical analysis, a crucial aspect most businesses ignore during the implementation phase is communication.
Communication plays a vital role in establishing the six sigma culture and accelerating quality management processes. Let’s learn why communication is crucial for six sigma and how to leverage it to generate value.
Why Communication Matters in Six Sigma?
When six sigma was introduced in the 1980s, it was mostly about eliminating waste from manufacturing processes and creating defect-free products. With time, the process has evolved and now adopts a comprehensive approach, including measuring the value stream, focusing on customer satisfaction, and creating a flexible and resilient ecosystem.
This is where the communication part comes in.
From defining project goals to implementing changes, communication touches multiple aspects of the six sigma process. Let’s discuss it in depth below.
Defining Project’s Goals
Establishing project goals and KPIs is critical to establish focus and clarifying the project’s direction. To do that, effective communication is necessary to work with stakeholders, understand customer wants, and address problem areas.
By advocating collaboration, teams can brainstorm solutions and improve knowledge sharing, leading to faster problem-solving. Once the goals are established, the team prepares a roadmap, including the details to ensure that everyone is on the right track.
Measuring KPI and Data Analysis
Six Sigma projects are data-driven that involve finding root causes for process impairment by collecting and analyzing large data sets. Effective communication allows the analytical team to collect data through customer feedback and surveys and analyze it to establish a baseline for process improvement. Once results are in, teams use data visualization tools to present the information clearly and concisely.
Here the project management team collaborates with multiple stakeholders and holds meetings to convert the findings into actionable insights.
Developing solutions that help improve business processes even after data analysis is overwhelming. That’s because it involves eliminating defects, facilitating cross-communication, and introducing a new culture. Effective communication is necessary to ensure that all stakeholders understand the proposed solutions, the expected benefits, and the implementation plan.
Here the project management team makes everyone aware of their roles and responsibilities and creates a roadmap for implementing the solutions. Without proper guidelines and feedback sessions, process improvement can soon turn into a chaotic mess.
The final stage is all about improving the workflow and ensuring the changes remain sustainable in the long run. This stage involves adopting the principles of continuous improvement and providing effective employee training. Doing this will help leaders address concerns and eradicate resistance to change.
Communication is pivotal because it helps stakeholders monitor the process, track KPIs, and implement corrective measures if things go wrong. It also helps the team understand whether new capabilities are helping the organization gain the desired value.
How To Establish an Effective Communication For Six Sigma Projects?
On the face of it, communication doesn’t seem to be the most crucial aspect for the success of Six Sigma projects. But without a collaborative cycle, you won’t get the type of results you are hoping for. To help you establish a cycle, here are some tips you can follow to ensure that everyone remains engaged throughout the project lifecycle.
- Be clear about the roles and responsibilities: Identify all stakeholders involved in the project, including project sponsors, team members, subject matter experts, and end-users. Determine their communication needs and preferences.
- Establish communication channels: Having project management software or an instant messaging platform like Slack or Microsoft Teams ensures members can connect easily.
- Develop a plan: Create a plan that outlines the communication goals, objectives, and frequency. Determine what information needs to be shared and who will share it.
- Create templates and tools: Design templates and provide tools to support cross-communication across teams. You can create materials such as meeting agendas, meeting minutes, status reports, and project dashboards to save time and provide better clarity.
- Being consistent: Having regular meetings ensures that everyone knows about the project’s progress, issues, and decisions. It is vital to create an open environment where open dialogue and feedback are encouraged.
Moving Forward With Six Sigma
Global organizations have long recognized the value of six sigma. Although it is an intricate process, it has many benefits. While there is a strong case for why small and big businesses should implement the methodology for various management processes, they must remain focused, customer-centric, and entirely geared toward improvising.
That said, having a communication cycle can prove to be a cornerstone for digital transformation, so it is best to adopt the above practices and remain Agile.