Lean Office

Chief Quality Officer of GE: Six Sigma is Dead

By Jon Miller Published on January 25th, 2006

The January 30, 2006 BusinessWeek article titled Would You Recommend Us? introduces something called “net promoter” scores being used by GE Healthcare to measure customer loyalty. Simplified, it’s a metric based on how many customers would recommend the product heartily (“10”) versus not at all (“0”). A high net positive response to the short survey asking “Would you recommend us?” is all that’s needed to measure customer loyalty.
This is apparently earth-shattering stuff to the GE Healthcare execs. I always thought that unless you have a product that is addictive, a monopoly or an essential to daily life, customer loyalty is simply the customer choosing you again and again. What were they measuring before?
Mr. McCabe says it’s not about the score but about “focusing on the customer.” Look up from your metrics, Mr. McCabe. Your customers may have long left you by the time the numbers are in your hands. Go to gemba, GE Healthcare, and genchi gembutsu.
The most shocking bit of news came from this quote from Mr. McCabe: I have little doubt that this will be as big as Six Sigma was.
Is the Chief Quality Officer of General Electric saying that Six Sigma is dead at GE? Or maybe he meant that Six Sigma is still alive, but just not as big as in once was. I have to admit that this rocks my world a little bit. If there are any black belts from GE out there, help me up.
I won’t believe Six Sigma is dead at GE until I’m standing next to Jack Welch at the funeral. In any case what’s troubling is that a CQO at GE can say something that makes Six Sigma sound like the flavor of the last decade. As if this six sigma level process variability has been achieved (or is no longer important) and it’s now a matter of finding something even more revolutionary, like asking the customer if they are happy with their purchase.

  1. Bill Waddell

    January 25, 2006 - 10:00 pm

    Jon, if Six Sigma is dead then Ford is really in trouble. The sole passing reference to lean in the big Ford announcement the other day was that an army of 1,100 or so Black belts were going to be unleashed on the company – too late, it sounds like.

  2. Karen Wilhelm

    February 6, 2006 - 10:02 am

    Keep in mind that Ford’s vaunted covey of Green Belts consists of people who can successfully sit through a 5-day training session. Then those people are told to “Go forth and fix things.” Yet there is no system or context for the application. This is what takes place in the offices – maybe the system is better in the plants.

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