Why Six Sigma and TQM Are Bad for Your Web Business

Why Six Sigma and TQM Are Bad for Your Web Business

From Six Sigma to TQM (total quality management), the industrial age world pioneered many management systems. But I can tell you that some may not be relevant in your web business.

Yes, I do believe that the concept of TQM and some of the old management systems used in the industrial age empires are not necessarily relevant in the knowledge economy. In the past, you built for absolute quality and perfection. [Case in point, Six Sigma: “set of management techniques intended to improve business processes by greatly reducing the probability that an error or defect will occur.”]

Today, you build for a balance between quality and quantity. Yes, you launch a half-baked web product in the day and wait for comments to fix it in the night. You make a video game in the day and wait for comments to fix it in the night. You make a hardware product (yes voice assistant like Alexa) but the development never finishes because the AI that powers it in the cloud is a continuum. The ways products are engineered are changing.

Largely, the nature of the product distribution means that you can succeed by producing and learning from your customers while on the fly. So, a product can be built within 24 hours and launched with bugs which can be fixed on the go.

While TQM and Six Sigma remain for the industrial age firms, pursuing them in knowledge age companies would slow you down. If Alexa had waited to improve its voice assistant product to the level it is now instead of launching it few years ago, it would not be in the leading position it is now. It came with defects and errors but with the web distribution, it has been fixing those issues. The Six Sigma would not have approved such a product for launch. Yes, Alexa would never be a completed product because the AI would keep evolving.

Always remember this statement from Google engineer as you develop:

To Luke Wroblewski, also a Product Manager, startups must measure the kind of design that works specifically for the task; focus on core features, grow critical engagement and ensure adequate ergonomics.

Wroblewski advised startups to stake a balance between quantity and quality to create a lasting solution.

Yes, you cannot expect to be absolutely perfect. Have some bugs and errors even as you move fast to win your markets. This is not about Six Sigma and TQM; it is about having the capacity to learn what customers want and pivot on the fly. Sure, you can apply Six Sigma and TQM in making sure what you want to accomplish are fine but do not overly be driven by the absolute demand for perfection.

You need quality but it must have a balance. In web business, your recall happens in minutes and can be fixed in seconds. That is different from making turbines and power plants where recalls could destroy a business. So, do not apply management systems designed for such businesses in your firm. Learn how they break things in Facebook, Google, Amazon and Snap and keep moving. You complain, they fix and tomorrow everyone has forgotten.


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