"I have told him hundred times to follow the procedure but he had his way again";
"I ordered him to always wear a hard hat every time he enters the site";
"We did several meetings with the other department to fix this but it seems they find it pleasurable to delay our processes".
One study of process improvement projects in the US states that only 4% of errors are caused by employee attitude, and 96% are caused by either defect/s in the inputs (raw materials, information, skills of a person, machine error, etc.) or defect/s in the process, or combination of the two.
I have confirmed the study with more than 300+ process improvement projects I led/ coached as a Six Sigma Master Black Belt. It is common that at the start of a project, the team almost always blame the problem to bad intention/s of a person or of another department. If only that person or group of persons change their attitudes towards the process, there will be no defects and everything will fall into place.
For a newbie Six Sigma practitioner, this scenario seems that the project team already hit a dead end. To avoid this, it is a must for a Six Sigma practitioner to:
- Invite the correct persons when you facilitate brainstorming of potential causes & root cause analysis (not only process managers/ supervisors but also people doing the job like operators, analysts, processors)
- Collect and analyze data using graphical and statistical tools to confirm potential root causes.
Scratching the surface might point your team to a person's attitude, but a deep dive would tell you otherwise. A person's attitude like "not consistently wearing a hard hat on-site" might only be an effect of the real root causes like discomfort (incorrect size of hard hat assigned to the person), peer pressure (colleagues not also regularly wearing hard hats), supervisors not minding if his subordinates do not follow safety procedures, inconvenience (proximity of hard hat storage area to the working site and other things.
If you really want to know the real root causes, you must blame the process, and not the person.