“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill
Greg was always naturally curious.
As a boy, he would tinker in his father’s workshop, often taking things apart just to see how they worked (much to the annoyance of Dad). He would take various things from the shop and piece them together, hoping to make something new – something that was his. In science class, students were paired up to make model rockets. Everyone was given the same materials and a solid rocket engine. On “launch” day, the model rockets were ignited on the football field. All the rockets hurtled skyward for several hundred feet before the fuel was exhausted and they floated back to earth. Except for one. Greg and his lab partner’s rocket whistled out of sight – never to be seen again. When quizzed about what he did, Greg just shrugged his shoulders and said, “I just changed a few things that I thought could make it go higher. I guess it worked.”
Imagine that someone makes a business proposal that would significantly improve your company’s cost productivity. The sales pitch is appealing. This approach is claimed to have the following potential benefits:
It will yield over 4 times your investment in bottom-line results within 24 months, with a long-term ROI exceeding 7x.
It does not require any capital.
It will enable the development of a broad range of skills for key employees.
It will be the basis for culture change to a continuous improvement mindset.
Sounds great! Where do I sign up? But this is what you will not hear…
It only has a 20% chance of succeeding!
Given this success metric, would you make this investment? It’s not likely.
Lean Six Sigma (LSS) has the potential to produce all the positive benefits itemized above. However, the success rate of deployments is abysmal. In a Bain & Company management survey of 184 companies, 80 percent say their Lean Six Sigma deployment efforts are failing to drive the anticipated value, and 74 percent say they are not gaining the expected competitive edge because they haven’t achieved their savings targets. Other surveys reveal similar disappointment or disillusionment in LSS by executives and senior leaders.
The bad news is that 8 out of 10 LSS deployments are not meeting expectations. The good news? Some organizations are “getting it right” and reaping the benefits of a strong Lean Six Sigma deployment.