This is based on an actual Six Sigma project to ensure that there is compliance to Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) legislation for internal pricing procedures within the entire sales organization. The principles learnt from this project is applicable to other Six Sigma projects.

Team members were selected from a business unit, sales, country sales management, regional sales management, customer service, IT, finance & procurement. The objective of the project was to ensure that is clear segregation of duties between the departments involved in setting new prices, changing prices & quoting prices. Failure to demonstrate this during the SOX audits will incur associated penalties, e.g. a fall in the stock price, CEO is indicted, etc.

Besides members of the project team, other people involved were the project sponsor, project owners, coach & subject matter experts. These people form the committee that would be at each tollgate review throughout the DMAIC process. The DMAIC process comprise the following steps – Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control

The project team leader leads the team through each step. At the end of each step, the team leader gives a review to committee. If the committee is satisfied with the results, the project passes the tollgate & progresses to the next step in the process. If the committee is not satisfied, the project does not pass the tollgate review. In most cases, more work needs to be done for that particular step. In extreme cases, the project team is sent back to the beginning, the Define stage.

Each of the DMAIC steps requires the project team members to interact & use their specific strengths & skills. On hindsight, I, as project team leader, now understand certain steps require more of one certain brain color processing compared to perhaps the other 3 brain color processors. The project team leader does not have to lead every stage. The project team leader needs to successfully take the entire project pass each tollgate review.

The Define stage is the most crucial since it sets the direction & eventual outcome. If the project is ill-defined, it cannot get pass the first tollgate or it gets sent back to the beginning at the later stages. The entire team gets together to discuss the project. This stage will be best led by a green brain person who is able to see the big picture & keep things moving since there is a lot of information that needs to be processed. A red brain project team leader like me was bogged down with certain details & lost sight of the objective. I realize this on hindsight. Since the discussion was broad-based to define the problem in order to solve it, the sensitivities of blue brain team members need to be taken into consideration. The project is meant to solve a problem but assign blame which blue brain people may feel if they are part of the process. In this example, the blue brain people were helpful & accommodating, do the job of another person, thereby violating the segregation of duty requirement.

The Measure stage is best handled by a purple brain person. Other team members need not be actively involved. The purple brain can work alone at this stage, gathering data & information from project team members or from outside the team.
In order for the project to successfully pass each tollgate, we also need to understand the brain color processors of the committee in order to anticipate their questions & provide them with the appropriate answers. In many cases, especially during Define & Measure, it is common to be told what additional data needs to be obtain or to be asked if certain information or data was collected or considered.

The Analyze stage is best suited for the red brain person. The step can be done alone.

The Improve stage is when the team members need to come together again to discuss how best to act on the findings. A purple brain person should lead the discussion since he sees the best process to fix the problem.

The Control stage is when the blue brain person comes into play. This is when everything comes together. The blue brain person connects the events leading up to this stage & takes it forward by communicating effectively to the entire organization on the need to implement this particular project.




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