Friday, April 27, 2007

Old And New

When we tried Six Sigma at one of my former client's IT organization, the resident Black Belt warned us that our mileage would vary a good bit from the manufacturing industry where it has been implemented with great success for years. IT is still evolving, its not fully established and stable in the way car manufacturing is. There is not a playbook that will work year after year.

Once you take all that ambiguity and flux into account, Six Sigma can do less than its best. That said, we gave it a shot. When it came time to meet your Green Belt certification requirements most of us struggled to find a project that could fit the
DMAIC mold. It called attention to how little we knew about what went on in our shop. If we had been in the business of rolling cars out of an assembly line we would be out of business so fast that it would not even be funny.

Those were sober and humbling realizations and we had Six Sigma to thank for it. Green Belt projects spun up at dizzying pace. Suddenly there was opportunity at every corner that we had never realized until now. The younger and the more inspired among us believed that they could solve everything that ailed our shop by DMAICing it. Other than creating an acute awareness of where we fell short, those projects did not do a whole lot to improve our circumstances.


Customers were buying a product that had to meet their needs which evolved rapidly. With that ended any parallels with car manufacturing or buying. In the interests of expediency procedural rigor suffered all the time. If there was any way to cut a development cycle short it would be done. The costs of doing so would be an afterthought at best, forgotten as soon as the lessons learnt documentation was posted in the project workspace.

Now there is the
open source car. This is about the establishment going the way of Linux. It would be interesting to see how this unfolds if at all.

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