Many companies go down the road of quality improvement for the wrong reasons. The question is, what is your real motivation when implementing Lean and Lean Six Sigma practices in your organization? What are you really trying to achieve?
What Is Really Going On?
Your organization embarks on a grand adventure of quality improvement. Resources are allocated towards implementation of Lean Six Sigma and plans are put in place. Opportunities are identified for quality improvement. Senior leaders are energetic about the future opportunities and communicate their vision to the organization. After a period of success, the organization is optimistic about the opportunities achieved through their initiatives.
Then things begin to change.
Senior leaders are seeing the opportunities quality improvements being made, but they begin focusing on short term cost savings. Initiatives become an exercise in cost cutting in the organization, forgoing the strategy of long term quality improvement. As the tide starts to change in the organization, employees begin to feel the effects of the change. They see the focus subtly change from improving their process to rooting out every potential cost saving opportunity. Jobs start to be eliminated across the organization, while the demands of productivity are increased. Morale in the organization slips and employees begin to strategically plan their exit. Improvements gained in the early days of quality improvement initiatives quickly start slipping away, and the environment returns to the place it was before. The organization feels strongly they were deceived or tricked in the name of quality improvement and Lean Six Sigma initiatives, to achieve underlying cost cutting objectives. This leaves the workforce bitter and resentful. The bottom line is that the real goal of any organization is to make a profit. That is why they are in business. However, the focus of pure cost cutting typically results in operational failure.
Quality Improvement Creates Success
When starting down the journey of quality improvement, it is crucial that an organization clearly understand why they are starting the endeavor. The goals and motivations must be clear! Organizations must be steadfast and decimated to the goals of quality improvement. Leadership must be committed to processes that are long term in nature and focused. That is not to say that cost savings cannot be achieved along the way, but those savings will come organically with the dedicated practice of Lean Six Sigma initiatives, with a committed focus on customer satisfaction as the driver. Yielding to the temptation of short term cost cutting opportunities must be ignored. Quality is a process built over time through focused attention to detail and steadfast commitment to the long term health of the organization.