Successful Implementation of Six Sigma Considering Management Styles

Successful Implementation of Six Sigma Considering Management Styles

Kouroush Jenab (Society of Reliability Engineering – Ottawa, Canada) and Selva Staub (Haliç University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5958-2.ch004
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Why is management style so important to Six Sigma implementation? Many writers have attempted to define managers as effective quality leaders. Particularly following the 1920s, a great deal of research focused on worker motivation. Prior to the 1920s most employees were looked at as machines and their needs and wants were ignored. Employees were viewed as a disposable resource, driving the belief that motivating employees and sharing organizational development ideas were not integral to business practice. This style of management discouraged employees from feeling as a part of the organization and taking a stake in development efforts. McGregor identified two distinct managerial approaches, labeling them Theory X and Y; theory X was the more prevalent behavioral style identified among managers in the first half of the twentieth century. A statistical approach to quality control was also beginning to emerge during this period, with origins in the well-known so-called Hawthorne experiments. At this time, while Japanese companies were developing quality methods, western manufacturers were focusing their efforts on marketing, production quantity, and financial performance. An awakening to quality in western firms did not occur until the 1980s, with Six Sigma as one of the offspring of this movement. Six Sigma is a set of strategies, techniques, and tools for process improvement. One of the outcome of Six Sigma implementation is an infrastructure of people within the organization who are experts in this method. Six Sigma not only emphasizes setting rigorous objectives, collecting data, and analyzing results to a fine degree as a way to reduce defects in products and services, but it can also be an effective management tool. As such, successful implementation requires managerial commitment. This level of commitment will depend on the managers’ perceptions of their workers’ motivation. Although a great deal of research has been conducted on worker motivation, limited research exists that explores the possible connection between managers’ perception of workers’ motivation and Six Sigma commitment and success. The writers of this chapter have explored this issue and found that the majority of participants in their study were Theory Y managers with the same level of interest in Six Sigma as Theory X managers. The results indicate that although successful implementation of Six Sigma is independent from the management style (Theory X or Y), it requires management support and determination. Furthermore, the findings did not rule out other possible factors that could be influencing Six Sigma success, such as the dedication of Six Sigma champions or their skills in implementing Six Sigma.
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Motivation Theories And The Behavioral Approach To Management

Employees need to dedicate their energy, skills and power toward the organization’s goals. Success of any manager rests on their ability to get employees to work toward these goals. The fact is that while some employees work hard and long hours without any complaints, some try to escape from the workplace as soon as they can. The primary distinction between these two sets of individuals is the subject of motivation (Figure 1).

Figure 1.

Perspective on motivation


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