June 14, 2005

Six Sigma for Dummies

I've previously posted my thoughts about Six Sigma -- it's a problem-solving methodology for improving business and organizational performance. A number of very large companies already use it, though other organizations (such as law firms) would likely benefit as well. Through the relatively new Six Sigma Blog, I see that a new ""Dummies" book has been published, "Six Sigma for Dummies". As the Six Sigma Blog's capsule review mentions:

"One of the biggest inhibiting factors preventing wider Six Sigma implementation is the percieved [sic] complexity of the program. Most managers are simply clueless about the process, preventing them from seriously examining Six Sigma as an alternative for their company. Fortunately, Six Sigma for Dummies rectifies this by explaining in very straightforward, albeit at times simplistic, language the nature and benefits of Six Sigma. In addition, a number of small to mid-sized companies have been unable or unwilling to make the capital investment necessary to incorporate the Six Sigma process. This book will allow the novice to incorporate some basic Six Sigma attributes so that they can percieve [sic] for themselves the benefits of the program and ultimately incorporate it to a deeper degree."
Having been involved in a number of Six Sigma projects, I've found it a valuable methodology. It provides a number of approaches for identifying the root cause of a problem, what's broken in a process, and methods to quantify inefficiencies and benefits from process change. The latter is often difficult to do in service professions. Thus having additional tools to quantify value propositions can help firms get past a number of financial and other objections -- and it just might provide some valuable insight into how their larger clients operate.

Over the past several years, a number of large firms have begun PMO (Project Management Office) initiatives, particularly in their IT departments. While that's a great start, there is likely additional value to be obtained by incorporating Six Sigma. As its roots are based on statistical analysis (hence the name, Six Sigma), kudos to any resource that makes it easier to adopt and understand.

Topic(s):   Law Practice Management
Posted by Jeff Beard
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