Systems like TQM and Six Sigma have long served as the management framework in large corporations. In a small business, look around before you adopt the latest trend.
You may have been disappointed by your results when you tried implementing business process reengineering, TQM or other "magic" management systems in the past, so you and your employees may be skeptical of new systems such as lean manufacturing or Six Sigma. Should you give the new tools a try?
Before you do anything, take an objective look at where your company is and where you'd like it to be. Use this information to compare the good and bad of competing philosophies. Be sure that the disruption of processes, job responsibilities and company culture will be worth the results.
Once you have some ideas of what you hope to achieve, start looking for systems or philosophies that provide those benefits.
If you've already honed your search to just a couple of systems, look for conferences that feature presentations suited to your business and level of knowledge. Ask the conference organizers how many people attended in the past, what companies they came from and what job titles they held. Learning how other attendees have used various improvement systems is key, so be sure you'll find the right crowd.
Finally, remember that none of these systems has to be rigidly implemented and enforced. You can find success by picking and choosing the elements of each that make the most sense for your business and your employees.
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