by John H. Fleming, PhD and Jim Asplund, Gallup Press, 313 pages, $25.95, Hardcover, October 2007, ISBN 9781595620163
In Human Sigma
, John H. Fleming and Jim Asplund paint a grim picture of business and the traps some companies fall into. Organizations create a world where computerized machines run everything and humans are expendable creatures that offer no contribution. The authors even call this sort of business practice "Terminator Management." Fleming and Asplund acknowledge that this is the extreme, but they caution that the business world is on its way to becoming a misguided, thoughtless, emotionless machine.
Fleming and Asplund assert that companies have neglected the human element of Six Sigma or, as the authors call it, Human Sigma. Most companies, like banks or huge retail conglomerates, regard individuals as volatile and/or unpredictable. As a result, they do not pay enough attention to basic employee-customer interactions to keep their companies focused and growing. The authors provide five rules of thumb for companies to stay on track and not lose the Human Sigma, a vital factor of every organization.
: E Pluribus Unum
: Every interaction between employee and customer should be seen and evaluated as a collective entity, not separate.
: Feelings are Facts: Emotions drive the interactions for the employee/customer relations.
: Think Globally, Measure and Act Locally: Manage at a local level.
: There is One Number You Need to Know: A single performance metric the measures the employee and customer engagement
: If You Pray for Potatoes, You Better Grab a Hoe: Good intentions do not constitute a plan of action. Be ready to carry it out.
The human quotient has never really left organizations, but companies focus instead on problems or situations that are more concrete. It's easier to solve a problem of disinterested or ill-informed employees handling a call-center by getting a fully automated phone system than creating a self-empowered team that feels passionate about both the company and customer they work for. Yet rote technological changes can lead to continued customer dissatisfaction, especially when customers are emotionally tied to a company.
This book clips along at a surprising speed, offering insights from many companies that have and have not implemented Human Sigma. The authors explain how companies can identify with their customers, how employees matter in all circumstances in business relationships and how this plan of action needs to not only be implemented, but maintained for success.