Achieving HR Excellence through Six Sigma: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Achieving HR Excellence through Six Sigma

1st Edition

By Daniel Bloom

Productivity Press

215 pages | 27 B/W Illus.

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Although world-class firms like GE and Motorola have relied on Six Sigma to build their performance cultures, these processes are all too often left out of human resources (HR) functions. This lack of Six Sigma principles is even more surprising because preventing errors and improving productivity are so critical to the people management processes of hiring, retention, appraisal, and development.

From the history and evolution of the Total Quality movement to initiatives for introducing a Six Sigma continuous process improvement strategy in your HR department, Achieving HR Excellence through Six Sigma introduces a new way to envision your role within the organization. It explains how this powerful methodology works and supplies a roadmap to help you find and eliminate waste in your HR processes.

Describing exactly what HR excellence means, the book outlines dozens of proven approaches as well as a hierarchy of the exact steps required to achieve it. It illustrates the Six Sigma methodology from the creation of a project to its successful completion. At each stage, it describes the specific tools currently available and provides examples of organizations that have used Six Sigma within HR to improve their organizations.

The text presents proven approaches that can help you solve and even eliminate people management problems altogether. Filled with real-world examples, it demonstrates how to implement six sigma into the transformational side of your organization. It also includes a listing of additional resources to help you along your Six Sigma journey.

Explaining how to build a new business model for your HR organization, the book supplies the new perspective and broad view you will need to discover and recommend game-changing alternatives to traditional HR approaches in your organization.


Six Sigma tools give discipline to the HR practices so that they can be designed and delivered efficiently. This book offers an excellent review of Six Sigma principles and a wonderful application of those principles to streamline and improve HR practices. Application of these ideas will mitigate the risks of HR by reducing variance and increasing certainty of HR work. These are the foundation principles which ensure that HR will deliver sustainable value.

—Dave Ulrich, Professor, Ross School of Business, University of Michigan

In Achieving HR Excellence through Six Sigma, Dan Bloom faithfully captures the history and practice of Lean Six Sigma. He then proceeds to lay out a vision of high performance and excellence for any HR organization. Finally, through his own experiences and those of other practitioners, he provides numerous valuable examples of what implementation really looks like. A must read for HR professionals that are interested in pursuing excellence.

—Jeffrey Summers, Operations Manager, Amcor Flexibles and Former Director of Quality and Six Sigma Learning, Motorola University

If HR is ever to become a critical part of any organization, its leaders MUST learn and properly apply the language of business. Achieving HR Excellence through Six Sigma lays out a clear, sequential, yet easy to understand roadmap that any HR professional can follow that will take their teams to a higher level of business impact. Combining his experience as an expert in both HR and Six Sigma, Dan Bloom is the right expert with the right RX for what ails most HR teams - how to transform themselves from paper-pushing bureaucrats into vital strategic partners.

—Dr. Jim Harris, Founder of To a Higher Level LLC, former Fortune 500 corporate HR executive, and author of ten business books including The Impacter: A Parable on Transformational Leadership.

If you think your employees deserve the dependable and quality services that your customers require (and that you demand as a customer of business you patronize) then this book is for you. Dan knows the functional side of HR and with the quality lens and lean sigma tools explained in the book, can help you forge a path to a vastly improved and significantly more effective HR function.

—Kent Linder, Consultant to Organizations

It may be that the greatest area for improvement in our organizations today is in the functions – the enabling processes of human resources, finance, and information services. Dan Bloom has written a very helpful book that directly applies lean and Six Sigma thinking to the HR function. Every HR professional will benefit by reading this book, but more importantly applying its wisdom.

—Lawrence M. Miller, Author of Getting to Lean – Transformational Change Management

Corporate departments from IT to HR try to avoid Six Sigma by saying: ‘Oh that works for manufacturing, but it won’t work in HR because we don’t manufacture anything.’ Daniel Bloom lays bare the silliness of that statement. Six Sigma can be applied to any business process and Dan shows how easy it can be to apply Six Sigma to HR. If you want to get the ‘right people on the bus’, Six Sigma is the way to do it.

—Jay Arthur, Author of Lean Six Sigma Demystified and The QI Macros for Excel

Table of Contents

What Do We Mean by HR Excellence?


Excellence Is the Acquisition and Integration of Passionate and Culturally Aligned Employees who Are Engaged and Aligned with the Organization’s Goals

Using Tools and Processes to Advance the Business Mission

Focus on Elements That Are Strategic, Transactional, and Compliance Issues

Focus on Gaining and Maintaining a Seat at the Table

Securing, Training, and Retaining Talent to Meet Corporate Business Strategies

Do We Know What to Work on Next?

Where Is HR Excellence Going to Take Us?


Where Did Six Sigma Come From?


Deming’s 14 Points of Quality

Create Consistency of Purpose for Improvement of Products and Services

Adapt the New Philosophy

Cease Dependence on Mass Inspections

End the Practice of Awarding Business on Price Tag Only

Improve Constantly and Forever the System of Production and Service

Institute Training

Institute Leadership

Drive Out Fear

Break Down Barriers between Staff Areas

Eliminate Slogans, Exhortations, and Targets for the Workforce

Eliminate Numerical Quotas

Remove Barriers to Pride of Workmanship

Institute a Vigorous Program of Education and Retraining

Take Action to Accomplish the Transformation

Evolution of the Total Quality Management System

Quality Circles

Total Quality Management

GE Workout

Toyota Production System

Six Sigma Process

Lean Six Sigma Framework

Modern-Day Evolution of Six Sigma

Ultimate Improvement Cycle

Rapid Workout


What Is Six Sigma?


Objection: It Is a Manufacturing Thing

Objection: We Tried That, and It Did Not Work in Our Organization

Objection: It Is Too Complex to Be Used in Most Organizations

Six Sigma Roles

Senior Executive

Executive Committee

Champion (Project)

Process Owner

Master Black Belt

Black Belt

Green Belt

Yellow Belt

White Belt

Six Sigma Methodology Themes


Six Sigma Tool Box


Define Stage

Measure Stage

Question 1: How Do We Measure the VOC Issues?

Question 2: What Is the Source for the Process Data?

Question 3: Do the Data Tell Us about the Real Current State?

Question 4: What Does the Existing Process Tell Us?

Question 5: How Does the Current Process Operate?

Question 6: How Does the Current State of the Process Match the VOC?

Analyze Stage

Question 1: How Does the Process Perform?

Question 2: What Areas Are Causing the Problem?

Question 3: What Does the Current State Show Us?.

Question 4: What Do the Data Indicate?

Question 5: Does the Root Cause Affect the VOC Issues?

Improve Stage

Control Stage



In Plain Sight: Sources of Wastes


Waste Type 1: Overproduction

Waste Type 2: Waiting

Waste Type 3: Unnecessary Transport

Waste Type 4: Overprocessing

Waste Type 5: Excess Inventory

Waste Type 6: Unnecessary Movement

Waste Type 7: Defects

Waste Type 8: Unused Employee Potential

Waste Type 9: Material Underutilization


Applied Six Sigma and Human Capital Management


Functional Area 1: Human Resources Business Management and Strategy

Mergers and Acquisitions

Human Resource Audits

Functional Area 2: Workforce Planning and Employment

Accurate Tracking of Family Medical Leave

Frequently Asked Questions in the Employee Handbook

Job Posting Rates

Increased Retention

Application Response Time

Removal of Unnecessary Steps in the Process

Functional Area 3: Human Resource Development

The Measure Stage: How Bad Is the Problem, and What Might Be Causing It?

The Analyze Phase: What Are the Vital Few Causes of the Problem?

The Improve Phase: What Changes Should We Make to the Process to Eliminate or Reduce the Impact of the Cause?

Pilot and Acceptance Testing

The Control Phase: What Process Monitoring Should Be Put in Place to Ensure the Process Changes Are Sustained?


Functional Area 4: Compensation and Benefits

Functional Area 5: Employee and Labor Relations

Complaint Procedures

Incident Reports

Control Charts to Show What Benefits Are Most Effective for the Employees

Control Charts or Pareto Charts to Show the Variation between Work Time and Leisure Time

Tracking Complaints that Most Likely Will Lead to Employee Assistance Programs

Functional Area 6: Risk Management

Data Analysis Regarding Accident Incidents

Creating a Kanban System in the Workplace

Kaizen Events to Correct Workplace Issues


Business Model Canvas and HR Management


Business Canvas Segment 1: Value Proposition

Business Canvas Segment 2: Customer Segments

Business Canvas Segment 3: Customer Relationships

Business Canvas Segment 4: Channels

Business Canvas Segment 5: Revenue Streams

Business Canvas Segment 6: Key Partners

Business Canvas Segment 7: Key Resources

Business Canvas Segment 8: Key Activities

Business Canvas Segment 9: Cost Structure


Bringing It All Together


Long-Term Planning to Optimize Service Delivery

Corporate Culture

Value of the Human Capital Assets to the Organization

Corporate Management Style

Corporate Decision Process

Future State of the Corporation

Continuous Improvement (There Is Always a Better Way)

Transformational Leaders

Poka Yoke (Mistake Proof)

Educate and Train

Change Managers into Leaders

Drive Out Fear (Employees Empowered to Express Ideas and Ask Questions)

Break Down Silos (Create Teams That Reach across Units) Focus on Process, Not People (Avoid the Blame Game)

Avoid Numerical Quotas for People in Management

Go and See

Gain Knowledge

Do It Now



Achieving HR Excellence through Six Sigma


Customer Centric

Customer-Centric Strategic Initiative

Organizational Alignment

Organizational Alignment Initiatives

Quality Management

ISO 9001 Section 6.2.2a: The Necessary Competence for Personnel Performing Work Affecting Conformity to Product Requirements

ISO 9001 Section 6.2.2b: Where Applicable, Provide Training or Take Other Actions to Achieve the Necessary Competence

ISO 9001 Section 6.2.2c: Evaluate the Effectiveness of the Actions Taken

ISO 9001 Section 6.2.2d: Ensure that its Personnel are Aware of the Relevance and Importance of their Activities and How they Contribute to the Achievement of the Quality Objectives

ISO 9001 is Section 6.2.2e: Maintain Appropriate Records of Education, Training, Skills, and Experience



Further Reading


About the Author

Daniel T. Bloom is a well-respected author, speaker, and HR Strategist, who has worked as a contingency executive recruiter, a member of the internal HR staff of a Fortune 1000 corporation, and as a Corporate Relocation Director for several real estate firms. He is an active participant within the HR Social Media scene maintaining Blogs on, Wordpress, Human Capital League, Blogger, Toolbox for HR, and others. Since 1980 he has written over 40 articles and white papers which have appeared in the professional press and online.

He has also authored two books, Just Get Me There: A Journey Through Corporate Relocationin 2005 and the soon to be released Achieving HR Excellence Through Six Sigma. Dan is also a frequent contributor to the HR site Hirecentrix. He is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management, Worldwide ERC, and a Professional member of the National Speakers Association. He currently serves as a member of the Engineering Technology and Building Arts Advisory Board at St. Petersburg College. After 30 years involvement in the industry, he is a Subject Matter Expert on issues surrounding Domestic Relocation issues.

A graduate of Parsons College with a degree in Education, Daniel Bloom is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR); a Six Sigma Black Belt, and a Senior Certified Relocation Professional. He founded Daniel Bloom & Associates, Inc. in 1980 following a lay off from the HR department of the ECI Division of E-Systems.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Human Resources & Personnel Management
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Quality Control
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Workplace Culture