Six Sigma: On the Rocks in Suzhou (A)

William C. Parr

Research output: Other contributionCase Studies


This short two-part case explores a fictional scenario, but one that is based on actual experiences of the author and the author’s friends working in support of Six Sigma implementations in China. The primary purpose of this case is to open up a discussion of what can go wrong at Six Sigma and what sorts of executive actions are essential to make Six Sigma work. Most existing cases exemplify relatively positive behavior at the executive level – this one provides an (un)welcome contrast. In the process, it forces students to articulate specifically what leadership behavior they believe to be most needed. This case rings true to the experience of many executives who have seen or participated in abortive Six Sigma initiatives. The case may be especially helpful as a counterpoint in a module that uses cases chronicling successful Six Sigma implementations. The case assumes that students have already had an introduction of some sort to Six Sigma and are familiar with its vocabulary. An introduction to Six Sigma could perhaps be provided by a 60 minute presentation or video on the subject, or by reading a case which has good support material on this. This is important because no effort is made in this case to define terms such as Six Sigma, DMAIC, Black Belt, etc. If the case method is being used as dominant instruction mode, the Ivey case “Maple Leaf Foods (A): Leading Six Sigma Change, 9B01C032” does a good job (through the appendices) of providing much of the appropriate information.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011

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Published by

China Europe International Business School


  • Leardership Behavior
  • Organizational Reform
  • Process Improvement
  • Project Management
  • Six Sigma

Case studies discipline

  • Operations & Management Science

Case studies industry

  • Manufacturing


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