Six Sigma for a 21st Century Recession

November 17, 2008
Basking Ridge, New Jersey

The stock market plunges. Layoffs are everywhere. The financial sector seems like it’s in a meltdown. The economy looms and consumers freeze. The spiral continues. But no matter how bad the media paints the picture, the fact remains that business needs to get done. And regardless of a downturn, the customer matters even more and six sigma quality efforts play an effective role in a changing business environment.

“Face it – if you’re going to survive, you have to re-engineer how you do things. There is opportunity out there, and there will continue to be opportunity. Are you going to survive and go on the offensive. It’s time to think about a new approach. Before you change – you’ll need to assess – and measure – ahhhhhh here comes the fancy phrase – Six Sigma.”

It’s So Competitive Out There

Someone mentioned to me yesterday “Did you know that over 750 jobs are created for every new house that’s constructed?” Given that housing starts are at its lowest level in decades, it’s so hard to focus on quality efforts. Who gives a crap about some fancy named quality process when the world seems to be crashing down all around us. The sky is falling!

For a second, while everything seems so bleak, there comes the thought. While unemployment climbs to 7%, 8%, or higher, that still means that 92% are working.  I don’t need some expert financial analyst to tell me we’re in a recession. Heck, I could’ve gotten that six months ago talking to a waitress over at the local restaurant.

Just remember….business still needs to be conducted. So if you’re in business, and want to stay in business, you’re going to have to re-engineer how you do “what you do.” And a fancy way of saying it is by using a business engineering tool called six sigma. 

Corporations MUST Invest in Quality

Now, more than ever, the focus needs to shift to quality measurement. Whether it’s a quality process improvement, or a customer quality initiative, six sigma plays an important part in creating and managing a framework for improving quality in a shrinking economy. The opportunity is there. And it’s even more important that C-Level executives realize that as profits shrink, it’s even MORE important to make sure that the stewardship of the company is navigated by an experienced employee base that measures their quality and has a process framework that works.

Sinking Employee Morale

In plain english, it sucks. No doubt about it. Morale is at it’s lowest levels since 9/11. With the digital media and a 1,000 cable news channels beating the drum of a recession it’s no wonder why employees are disheartened. Layoffs are eventual if not already happening all around us. Government employees are feeling it for the first time in my lifetime (geeze I thought if you worked for the government you’re in for life?). 

But with all the gloom, don’t forget- business still needs to be done, and companies need employees to conduct business. You have to be better though. Smarter. Faster. Cheaper.  Ahhhhhh….more efficient! Again, it does come down to process efficiencies, no matter who’s left to run the shop. 

The Cycle

Even though the economic conditions seem different than any other recession, it’s not like the Great Depression. Americans have learned in order to lead the world in business, they need to innovate. I know it’s tough, but pull your head up out of your hands. Look the future straight in the eyes, and start thinking about re-engineering your company. But before you re-engineer, begin with a sound set of process evaluations and business process mapping exercises that target your new goals and objectives. Don’t fear the change, you need to embrace it if you’re going to survive. 

Submitted: Brooks Betz,

About Brooks:

Brooks Betz has spent the last thirteen years working at some of the world’s largest corporations and Investment Banks focusing on M&A business reengineering and Information Technology Quality Design programs. Using innovative quality approaches, productivity enhancing tools, and an innovative cost containment models, he has delivered fully functioning global Software Quality Centers of Excellence (CoEs) for three of the world’s most prestigious investment banks. He also specializes in determining global outsourcing strategies and project management initiatives around Quality architecture for software quality delivery design.

 

Brooks can be reached at brooks.betz@t3consortium.com

 

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