Summary of A Six Sigma Approach to Sustainability

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7

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  • Innovative
  • Applicable
  • Concrete Examples

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Six Sigma experts Holly A. Duckworth and Andrea Hoffmeier outline a continual-improvement program for long-term sustainability. Their model is Japan’s 1,500-year-old firm, Kongo Gumi, founded in 578 AD. They report that most current continual improvement programs can address social responsibility with a few small changes and little complexity. The authors apply the Six Sigma method to transparency, fair labor practices, community involvement and environmental impact. Their dry writing style and jargon don’t undermine the value to managers of their many actionable ideas.

About the Authors

Holly A. Duckworth is a Six Sigma Master Black Belt and volunteer leader for the American Society for Quality. Andrea Hoffmeier is a Six Sigma Black Belt who focuses on marketing, product development, quality management and organizational excellence.

 

Summary

Corporate social responsibility matters more now than ever.

Boosting a company’s social-responsibility profile can ensure its longevity. Social responsibility means adopting institutional behavior that will sustain a pool of customers and employees – plus access to suppliers and resources – for centuries.

With the rise of social media, customers and investors gained more power in influencing corporate behavior and more ways to respond to corporate activities. Public perception of a firm’s behavior can attract and keep customers, employees and investors – or it can have the opposite effect. A community can be welcoming or hostile toward a company that wants to set up shop locally, depending on the business’s social-responsibility profile.

Strive for a level of sustainability measured not in decades, but in centuries. Consider the Japanese construction company Kongo Gumi, which began in 578 AD and stayed in business for the next 1,500 years. When you evaluate potential sustainability initiatives, ask if they’re sufficiently robust enough to keep you in business for 15 centuries.

In the past, industry lacked an agreed-on definition of social...


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