Can Company Politics Hinder Six Sigma?

The only way you’re never going to encounter company politics is if you become the sole proprietor and employee of your own company. Otherwise, every workplace you enter has a history of unhappiness, conflict, and criticism. Putting a group of people together and expecting them to work harmoniously is impossible.

However, you should never allow company politics to stop you from putting your Six Sigma goals into action. You’ll need to be prepared for interpersonal conflict, resistance to change, and some downright hostility. 

It might come from the people you lead or the people who lead you. These factors are not unique to Six Sigma, so you should never question whether it’s the system that is causing the problem.

Here are some of the main challenges you’ll face and how to overcome them.

Inflexible company policies

In many cases, the implementation of Six Sigma requires some changes to organizational goals, processes, and expectations. When you walk into a situation wanting to implement Six Sigma, you might be faced with resistance, not from the people you’re leading, but from the company structure.

It is essential that you have top management’s buy-in when you want to implement the Six Sigma approach. It might take some persuasive talk to get them to understand its merits, but once you do, you’ll have them on board. Then company policies will change, and employees will see top management setting the example.

Personal resistance

People are, by nature, change-averse. Very few respond to massive changes with overwhelming enthusiasm. Most react to new processes and situations with resistance. Those who’ve been at the company for a long time will complain that the system in place right now works, so why should it be changed? 

When their roles and responsibilities change to accommodate the application of Six Sigma, they’ll become even more difficult to persuade.

For many people, change equals loss, whether it’s a loss of power or control. This is something most people despise, and they will fight it with everything they’ve got. 

It is a selfish response, because they are, at that moment, only considering how the change will affect them. They cannot see any positives in the change and how it will benefit the organization and, ultimately, them as well.

As per Peter Peterka, president of, when you learn Global Six Sigma, you’ll see that while it has a lot to do with numbers, it also involves learning to draw people into the process to get them working toward a common goal. This is accomplished through the planning, communication, and transparency related to data, processes, and procedures.


As with any change, you’re going to encounter skeptics. These are the people who don’t understand Six Sigma or have heard about it but think it’s not going to work. They see it purely as a cost-cutting exercise, which will give them more responsibility without more money. Alternatively, they’ll see it as the new fad management is obsessed with, and that it won’t last long.

That jaded cynicism can be hard to break down, and sometimes the only way to prove your doubters right is to succeed when they’re rooting for you to fail. By implementing Six Sigma’s continuous process improvement procedures, they’ll soon start seeing the benefit and start embracing its principles.


Expect arguments and team meetings that feel more like a warzone than anything else. Embrace these situations, as they give you a chance to learn about your team and recognize how best you can use their strengths to your Six Sigma advantage. 

Even if they’re opposing what you’re saying, this conflict means that they’re getting involved. And that is the first step of getting team members to welcome the change.