Six Sigma, Culture and Personality Page 2
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Six Sigma Culture and Personality Part II

by Stephen Mathews

Six Sigma and Temperament

The Temperament theory introduced by Keirsey and Bates, and further developed by Linda Berens, is based on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. It divides personality types into four groups based on outwardly observable behaviours. Whilst originally applied to individual behaviours, temperament also acts as a lens to illuminate organizational culture and the focus brought to Six Sigma projects:

Practical and Structured Culture
("Guardian" or "SJ")

General Focus is on policy, rules, procedures, protocol, schedules, systems, follow through, logistics, practical requirements and results, getting things done in accordance with the plan – short, medium and long term.

Six Sigma Focus is on right training, in the right place, at the right time, in the right quantity, at the right quality, to deliver the right results in alignment with existing plans and budgets

Creative and Empathetic Culture
("Idealist" or "NF")

General Focus is on human values, impact of actions on people, meaning, morale, harmony and cooperation, vision, inspiration, growth and development of the person and the company.

Six Sigma Focus is on right training for ALL the people, clarification of the deeper issues, mediation and conflict resolution, generating enthusiasm and championing the cause.

Tactical and Flexible Culture
("Artisan" or "SP")

General Focus is on tactics, needs of the moment, employing any available means to accomplish an end, using tools, immediate (sensory) information, and action.

Six Sigma Focus is on pointing out the immediate needs, detecting and exploiting options, crisis management, handling the unexpected, getting the whole thing under way, improvisation, getting on with it.

Strategic and Analytical Culture
("Rational" or "NT")

General Focus is on strategy, technology, abstract analysis, searching for patterns, developing hypotheses, logical systems, and change.

Six Sigma Focus is on relating the means to the overall vision and goal, the appropriate projects for the larger perspective, developing multiple plans for meeting all possible contingencies, and generating strategic options.

Individuals of different temperaments often describe dramatically different goals and ideals for the organization. And where managers or employee's use personal styles that are different to the culture, they can sometimes find that their actions, presentations or proposals are rejected, eg: through lack of current data, or lack of long term vision. This is because what looks like a 'good case' is often different for each temperament/culture.

FIRO Elements

FIRO Elements are part of an overall approach to behavioural change known as The Human Element. The basis of this approach is that the first step to solving organisational and Leadership problems is self-understanding, based on three ways of meeting individual behavioural needs: Underlying these outward behaviours are three feelings: Having a healthy attitude to these six dimensions are important to self-esteem and when people feel low self-esteem they frequently try to avoid facing their negative feelings about themselves, using defence mechanisms. These defences can consume large amounts of individual (and hence organisational) energy, which interferes with and detracts from the aims of Six Sigma projects. As we become aware of our defensive behaviour - and if we choose to let it go - we achieve higher and higher levels of self-esteem. Our energy then becomes available for more productive use.

It can be very worthwhile, therefore, for leaders to develop a culture of trust so that energies are directed into positive, constructive work. It is a cycle, where we deal first we deal – to some extent – with our needs for Inclusion. Then we move on to dealing – again only to some extent – with our needs for influence and control. It is only after these areas have been dealt with that we begin to address our needs for openness, which is where trust develops. If we do not meet people's needs for inclusion and control, then it is almost certain that any trust we get will be of a very temporary nature.

In terms of continuous improvement processes, such as Six Sigma, Inclusion usually means Involving people, gaining their Involvement and then giving and receiving Commitment to what it is that we are trying to do (to some extent remember, it doesn't all happen at once). Then we need to think carefully about Empowerment. What does it mean to truly empower people? (As a definition try "Giving people the amount power to take the decisions that you are prepared to let them take"). How do we then Manage the process? If we then give appropriate Acknowledgement – what we did well as well as what we did badly – then we will start to build a culture of Trust. As trust builds people start to get more involved, become more committed, accept more empowerment…… other words the cycle continues and deeper levels of trust develop.

Applying the models

From the two models above, you can see that behaviour and culture can significantly affect the potential success of a Six Sigma project and the level of achievement. Without recognising and managing behaviours and cultures properly, time can be wasted, misunderstanding and frustrations rise, and energy be channelled into unproductive, defensive behaviours.

These models can help facilitate the behavioural change required for successful Six Sigma projects, when used to:

If you want more information, please contact Stephen Mathews.

(c) © 2004 Stephen Mathews. The Human Element is the trademark and copyright of Will Schutz Associates. You may link to this page, but not print or duplicate it in any form without written permission of the copyright holders.

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