New Marketing Processes with Six Sigma

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I’m a bit behind in my blogging. It’s been a busy few weeks…plus I thought I’d let my Patrick Lencioni post ferment for a little while.

It’s also been a big month for me and Six Sigma — or as Dell practices, Business Process Improvement (BPI). I just received my Green Belt Certification on a large project, I joined the International Society of Six Sigma Professionals, and I’m preparing for my presentation at the WCBF Six Sigma for Marketing conference in Chicago in September.

At my Green Belt presentation we had an interesting discussion regarding Six Sigma and marketing…

As Marketers, we typically come up with ‘new’ processes. Maybe it’s our creative nature, or maybe it’s because customers, products and technology changes so quickly. I began to assert that creating a new process or solution, is essentially the same as improving an existing process. But that’s philosophically splitting hairs.

I think the difference is from typical Six Sigma or BPI is we don’t focus as much on eliminating defects – which is the original intent of Six Sigma. After all Six Sigma means getting to 99.9997 defect rate. There’s no such perfection in any corner of marketing that I’ve experienced — or at least marketing results. Imagine getting 99.9997 response rate on a catalog! Six Sigma for marketing is about optimization, effectiveness, efficiency, getting business results with the customer in mind, and using measurable variables for both to know you’re headed in the right direction.

It seems Six Sigma professionals sometimes get caught up in the purity of Six Sigma. I’m not sure why. It’s not a religion. Like most methodologies and tools, why can’t it be adapted to fit needs. Make it what you make of it.

I believe BPI / Six Sigma is a toolset and methodology to solve business problems — whether it’s to eliminate a defect, reduce costs, or discover a new solution that makes marketing more effective. As long as it helps make a better decision and drives rigor into the process of measurement, it’s a good thing.

I also believe putting Six Sigma in marketing is about changing culture. It’s a methodology, way of thinking, and a toolset, that empowers employees to drive rigorous measurement and continuous improvement in the organization. At the highest level it’s an ‘out of the box’ change management tool to better ensure continuous improvement in your company.

Anyway, those are my thoughts for now…they may go in my presentation.

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