To explain how Six Sigma impacts career and organizational focus, let me give you a real life example. One of my friends is an extremely successful sales professional with wonderful selling skills with little Six Sigma knowledge. In his previous job, he was leading Sales in an IT products (computers and IT hardware) company. His job profile rotated mainly around closing corporate deals initiated by junior Sales Executives.
He spent a lot of time in resolving quotation related issues with clients. Issues arose almost everyday because clients used to call different sales persons in the company and used to get different pricing or discount offers. These different quotes for the same models to clients were within the discount authority available to Salespersons. Even after lot of counselling sessions, these issues continued and were accepted as a way of life.
My friend, as a Sales Head had a challenging job comprising of the following
- Reaching each disillusioned client (some of them feigned it to get an advantage)
- Explaining why the difference in quotations arose.
- Doing some jugglery with numbers and terms, and finally, getting the Order.
He used to get most Orders as he was too good with his Sales pitch and relation building abilities and the product was good. This sequence of tasks also provided him a feeling that he was doing a really worthwhile job resolving some big issues and an achievement feeling almost every day. He was made to feel special by juniors who honestly respected and admired him for his special abilities that succeeded in bringing them out of troubles so many times.
He had several other similar work flows which started due to invoicing errors, order and delivery mismatches, and the like. He recently joined a process driven (Six Sigma implementing) company where some good Six Sigma projects had been done. One Six Sigma project had ensured that there was absolutely no possibility of different quotes landing up with a clients for the same model, even if different Sales persons are reached by the client.
He found the new job boring as the entire fascination in his previous job was due to troubleshooting and fire-fighting which was a daily affair. Here the scope was little as he found the working to be quite streamlined. There were no quotation disputes, no erroneous invoices, no delayed invoicing, lesser delays in shipments, rare mismatches between order and delivery to name some of the areas. (All this was achieved through persistent Six Sigma efforts project by project).
After some time with this new company, this person realized that the only way he could use his creative energies was by working on some futuristic tasks. This led him to work and succeed with some big deals which were reached with collaborative efforts with associate companies. He had to spend very little time here with juniors. And whatever time he spent went into discussions about strategic clients and deals. He realized that this was impossible in his previous job as his creativity was being utilized in fire-fighting issues (those issues did need a lot of creativity as each case had to be managed in a unique fashion).
This brings us to some important questions
- Are we using our creative energies in futuristic tasks (like worthwhile projects and improvement activities)? or are we losing ourselves in repetitive work?
- Are their ways by which we can spend more of our time in futuristic tasks that can bring success and laurels for self/ company/ nation?
Six Sigma concepts and tools provide you with the right philosophy and roadmap to achieve more (results, profits, output) with less (inputs, cost, time)
Coming back to my friend's example, can you visualize how many benefits he and his company could have realized if they had utilized the power behind Six Sigma early?
(To share with you, the company he left still continues to provide the same job profile to Sales leaders and they derive the same kind of daily appreciation from juniors on same issues repetitively)
Vishwadeep Khatri, Lead Facilitator
Benchmark Six Sigma