Six Sigma initiatives always have a long list of things to do to achieve a successful project. However, there are a few things you shouldn’t do to help get you to that finish line. Keep the following tips in mind while planning for your own Six Sigma.

Don’t deploy Six Sigma without a leader

Some organizations deploy Six Sigma without a designated, empowered deployment leader. Sure, these companies train Belts, assign projects, provide tools, and track results. They believe breakthrough change will occur by the sum of the individual, independent efforts.

But a Six Sigma deployment without a leader is like a ship without a captain: Individual crew members may know what to do in their own areas, but the project has no direction or overall progress. Make sure you have a leader on board.

Don’t take too big a bite

Almost invariably, the failure of any Six Sigma project can be traced to a scope that was too broad. Trying to minimize variation in an entire product, for example, is so defocused that little improvement can happen on any part of the product. Concentrating on minimizing the variation in a single critical characteristic of a product, however, allows you to dig deep enough to discover the real source of improvement.

Always err on the side of scoping your projects too small. Improvement is continuous; you can always come back later and do more.

Don’t think, “but we’re different”

Considering yourself or your organization to be unique — so unique that what’s worked for others can’t possibly work for you — is natural. It’s also one of the most common myths people have about Six Sigma.

Six Sigma is a general methodology. It has proven itself in every arena where it’s been applied — manufacturing, operations, logistics, design, supply chains, services, transactions, processing, legal, human resources, software, sales, marketing, management, healthcare, the public sector, defense contracting — the list goes on and on! Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’re the lone exception to the rule.

Don’t overtrain

Not every officer of the peace needs to be trained as an elite Special Forces commando. Likewise, not everyone doing Six Sigma needs to know the details of every advanced statistical tool and method.

The amount of information in Six Sigma courses has ratcheted up as consultants and trainers have competed against each other in their marketing efforts. But the fact that you can learn it doesn’t mean you need to. Only a handful of Six Sigma tools are actually used regularly. The majority of available tools are really brought out only occasionally for rare Sunday drives.

Don’t get fooled into thinking that more and more knowledge is always better. And don’t think you have to use every tool on every project. Expediency in learning and in application is the key! The best system gets the right knowledge to the right person at the right time.