Six Sigma

I was wondering how long it would be until corporate latched on to another tech-industry snake oil scam. Looks like I didn’t have long to wait at all. When I got in to work this morning and started my daily scanning of emails to ignore I came across a company-wide announcement from Super Geek hailing the introduction of Six Sigma to every division. Part of me wanted to laugh sarcastically as I read it, another part of me just wanted to sigh and shake my head at the futility of it all. Anyway I clicked on his email.

Dear Bill and Dave’s employees,

Our FY05 Priority to Achieve Excellence in Customer Satisfaction includes the strategy to “achieve superior business results through Six Sigma.” I am pleased to announce that, Six Sigma will be launched across the company. Six Sigma is an industry-wide quality approach that helps companies provide products and services of the highest quality and value. Specific to our FY05 theme, “Winning Through Innovation,” Six Sigma enables innovation by providing a method and tool set that can be applied to any business process to boost new ways of thinking and working. Additionally, Six Sigma has been proven successful in Bill and Dave’s ATG and Corporate Controllership. All employees can participate in Six Sigma. You can learn program specifics and answers to frequently asked questions via the Six Sigma website. And, going forward, you can expect project updates on this website and from your management team, InfoSpark and other communications. Six Sigma is an important element of our FY05 Priorities. My staff and I are fully committed to using this methodology to achieve a higher level of customer focus and operational excellence. Thank you for your efforts toward achieving all of our FY05 Priorities.

Best Regards,

Super Geek

I decided to look a little further into Six Sigma on my own by hopping onto Al Gore’s Internets. As I suspected, Six Sigma is another bolt-on industry standard that Super Geek and his platoon of yes men are going to force down our throats. Their hope no doubt is that Six Sigma will act as a magic bullet for all of our company woes. From what I could gather on the Six Sigma thing it looks like nothing more than data collection on your existing manufacturing process, and then you make common sense decisions based upon your findings. Uh, isn’t that what we are already supposed to be doing? I mean, we’ve got self-imposed systems here that do the exact same thing already and those seem to have been working well for decades.

For example, a huge cornerstone of the Bill and Dave’s method is what we refer to as Continuous Process Improvement (CPI). Basically anyone in the company is empowered to make suggestions on how to solve problems in our manufacturing processes or sidestep them entirely. All you have to do is gather some data, make observations, and present it to the group. It’s been effective in the past. We also have what we call “Business Metrics.” Business Metrics are a fairly comprehensive set of data collection tools that we use constantly. Each line supervisor is responsible for putting all the information together however he or she can delegate the data collection out to subordinates on the line. The end result is the same either way. We look at our problems and performance based on the data and make changes to resolve or improve deficiencies. It’s pretty simple.

So why in the hell are they rolling this Six Sigma stuff out now? The timing seems very odd. I mean if Super Geek was going to pull this out of his pointy nerd hat why didn’t he do it when the company was split up? Rolling Six Sigma out in the first year after the company split would still be dumb in my opinion but it would have made a little more sense on the timing. I think it’s also interesting he chose to mention the Automated Test Group (ATG) was used as a guinea pig for Six Sigma. Word on the street is they’re getting ready to sell off the whole ATG division to an outside company and jettison their employees without a severance package. That’s an awesome start here for Six Sigma. I guess Super Geek was too busy driving yellow Ferrari’s while plotting the wholesale destruction of the company’s United States workforce to think about Six Sigma at the time our company was unnecessarily broken into two. Remember folks it’s just like Super Geek always tells us, it’s all about “Shareholder Value!”

Here’s what I predict is going to happen in short order:

1) Management at all levels are going to get spun up on Six Sigma like it’s crack cocaine.

2) They’re going to mandatory training-session-us-to-death and pay through the nose for an army of faceless Six Sigma consultants. Not long after that we will all be good little Six Sigma zombies.

3) Within a year after zombification the whole program will wither on the vine and die, like so many other half-baked corporate sponsored industry trends Super Geek has picked up.

4) All the cash we threw at Six Sigma will have been pissed down the toilet.

I don’t know, call me a skeptic. This shit just keeps getting more and more stupid around Bill and Dave’s company. I am not sure how much longer I want to hang out here and deal with it.

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~ by factorypeasant on April 6, 2009.

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