When projects don’t go as planned, your frustration can lead to you being overwhelmed. Suddenly finding yourself knee-deep in implementation problems and process issues can shake your confidence. But when the going get’s tough, stand your ground, and stay level-headed. Remember, you’re a Six Sigma professional, so use what you know to overcome problems. The key to handling difficult projects like a professional is simple. Act methodically and efficiently, and don’t be afraid to listen to others’ advice (including ours). Here’s how you can work through difficult Six Sigma projects and turn them into a resounding success!
Before You Begin
Planning is integral to Six Sigma project work. Remember, if you fail to prepare, prepare to fail. Before you commence any project work, ensure you have a sufficient plan to guide you through it. This should include your itinerary, as well as the strategies, techniques, and solutions you intend to employ. When working within a short time frame (weeks or months), it’s important you push yourself to create an effective plan.
Shorter time frames may seem like the easier option, but a lot can go wrong in a short time. Whereas, long-term Six Sigma projects allow you more time to course-correct if something goes wrong. With short-term projects, it’s imperative you take a disciplined and thorough approach to planning will ensure you don’t go off track.
Planning your project properly is beneficial for numerous reasons. Namely, it enables you to determine scope and outcomes. It also allows you to predict any would-be road bumps, and to measure, test, and correct visible problems before you begin. We’ve seen highly promising projects fail due to minor oversights snowballing into massive problems without project leaders realizing. When it comes to Six Sigma project work, you can’t afford to wing it.
In the Thick of It
Learning to leverage your Six Sigma tools effectively hones your creativity, allowing you to develop innovative solutions to problems you encounter. As a Six Sigma professional, you should know how to use your selection and decision-making tools to identify viable solutions. Don’t let yourself fall prey to intellectual snobbery. The answer isn’t always obvious. In fact, it’s sometimes a case of the more creative your solutions, the better. But, on the other hand, complex solutions aren’t always appropriate. Don’t forget about Occam’s Razor, i.e., the simplest answer is most often the right one. Don’t jump on your first idea, as it’s not always the most optimal solution. You should always approach problems from multiple angles to determine how to proceed. Once you understand the problem, you have the best chance of finding the right solution. The most common mistakes made in this area are.
We recommend applying hypothesis testing beforehand, to decide how to proceed, and DMAIC once the project has commenced. Hypothesis testing, while relying on data to first suggest a hypothesis, is primarily speculation. It helps to give ideas a test-run first, as doing so draws attention to problems that may crop up later. DMAIC, on the other hand, produces a data-centric understanding of problems you discover, on which you can then act. It’s essential to act quickly on short-term Six Sigma projects, and DMAIC provides all the tools for you to make short work of difficulties as they arise.