Today, again, you worked hard and you have accomplished a lot of things. You had to react on many customer calls and you have fixed a lot of problems these customers have with your products. But, at least, your boss honored you for your perfect fire-fighting attitude and results. It could have been a good day, but actually it wasn’t.
All you did today was running painful against the Sigma Sonic wall. This wall is invisible, you cannot touch it. But, this wall prevents you from doing things right the first time and fulfilling your customer needs. The more energy you invest and the harder you work, the pain from running against this wall will even increase.
The good thing is, although you can’t see or touch the Sigma Sonic Wall, you can measure it. This can be done by simply measuring the performance of your processes. For an average company the performance of their processes is between 3 and 4 Sigma, corresponding to a failure rate between 67.000 and 6.200 ppm (parts/services per million).
There are some basic reasons that rise this wall:
- Dependence on inspection and rework
(scrap & re-work designed into manufacturing processes)
- Ship & Fix mentality => the field is the test ground!
- Reliance on trial and error
- Rewarding fire-fighting behavior
- Little focus on quality metrics
- Functional silos inhibit collaboration
For breaking through this Sigma Sonic Wall you need appropriate methods and tools, almost like a brick layer who needs a drill machine for breaking through a massive stone wall. And of course, you have to understand the Voice of the Customer (VOC) much better.
In the business world these methods are Lean, Six Sigma, Total Quality Management (TQM) and many others which do also provide a huge tool set to push this Sigma Sonic Wall step by step to higher Sigma values. Applying these methods and tools will also initiate a cultural transformation of your company. A well-defined strategy should support this transformation. What you have to consider for a cultural transformation can be read here.
What else do you need to make the breakthrough happen?
- Conviction in the opportunity
- Belief in the methodology
- Openness to challenge ‘status quo’
- New skills, tools, and information
- New behaviors for management
- Use a systemic approach like shown in the picture below