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Peter Pande on Six Sigma
May's issue will include an interview with Peter Pande, who has consulted for GE and is considered a leading expert in Six Sigma.Â We asked him the following:
- Why do so many pharma Six Sigma programs founder and fail
- Can or should the concept be applied to discovery and R&D
- Are some engineers and scientists approachingÂ Six SigmaÂ the wrong way?
He suggests that many engineers and technical specialists, like some CEOs, feel that they are responsible for knowing all the answers, and are thus incapable of stepping back and asking truly insightful questions.Â Focusing on reducing "total defects" is not always the best approach, and is completely inappropriate for applications in drug development, he says.
Pande suggests that Six Sigma can, and should, be applied to R&D, but that it requires a completely different approach, stripped clear of its manufacturing ties and the emphasis on data.Â Instead, such applications should look at broader concepts and ask whether certain procedures are actually adding value to the process (for example, meetings that may be held that are really only "rubber stamps" and don't really accomplish anything).
He also suggests that the entire concept of Six Sigma has been misapplied and misunderstood.Â For a Q&A and podcast interview, as well as results from our Operational Excellence survey, interpreted with the help of experts such as University of Michigan professor Jeffrey Liker, author of "The Toyota Way," please check our site next month.