Six Sigma projects are intricately woven tapestries of expertise, dedication, and systematic process improvement. However, their success hinges primarily on a factor often assumed, yet not always understood – management support. As we navigate the challenging yet rewarding journey of a Six Sigma project, it is worth contemplating: Is the support we seek truly what we desire?

The Illusion of Support

Four types of management support can be mistakenly perceived as beneficial, while they actually hinder progress. They include command-driven support, imposed regulations, authorized deviations, and resource redirection. While employees may tactfully adapt to these instructions to keep the project running, the root issues remain unaddressed, often exacerbating the problems. Imagine the frustration, confusion, and resentment brewing when a manager issues non-negotiable directives, shifts goalposts, bypasses standard procedures, or siphons off vital resources for favored endeavors. Certainly not a conducive environment for initiating a project.

The Quintessence of Genuine Support

Fortunately, there exist alternative forms of management support that truly empower Six Sigma projects. These are fostering a culture of change, providing mentorship, recognizing informal leaders, and finding legitimate solutions to roadblocks. Among these, instilling a culture of change shines as the most influential.

Support through cultural change is ignited when managers leverage their influence to foster a corporate environment that welcomes, rather than resists, change. They illuminate the advantages of participating in resolving the company’s challenges, encouraging employees to be agents of change, rather than passively following directives.

Support through mentorship plays an indispensable role in navigating the intricate labyrinth of contemporary organizations. A mentor, ideally your project sponsor, armed with a panoramic view of the company’s workings, can guide you towards overcoming roadblocks and towards those who can assist you.

Support through informal leaders highlights the critical role of non-managerial staff who, due to their experience or skills, possess the solution to a problem. Managers, with their keen awareness, can point you towards these invaluable, often overlooked, individuals.

Support through legitimate ways around a roadblock refers to resourceful solutions unknown to the project leader but accessible through the manager’s vast view of the company. The needed resource may be within reach, if you only know where to look.

As we solicit management support for Six Sigma projects, let us reflect on our real needs and articulate them clearly. With the right kind of support, we set a firm foundation for project success, promoting a more harmonious and productive relationship with management.

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