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Six Sigma - The Basics


A methodology that was developed in the mid-late 1980's, Whose roots can be traced back to Carl Friedrich Gauss who introduced the concept of the normal curve, to achieve near perfect quality has grown to a worldwide renowned brand.

Six Sigma, overtime has been evolving and have various different definitions as per every industry sector. According To Motorola

"... Six Sigma has evolved over the last two Decades and so has its definition. Six Sigma literal, conceptual and practical definitions have. At Motorola University (Motorola's Six Sigma training and consultancy division) we think about Six Sigma at three different levels:

As a metric

As a methodology

As a management system

Essentially, Six Sigma is all three at the same time. "

"... Six Sigma as a Metric: The term "Sigma" is often used as a scale for levels of 'goodness' or quality. Using quality scale, 'Six Sigma' equates to 3.4 defects per one million Opportunities (DPMO). Therefore, Six Sigma started as a defect reduction effort in manufacturing and was then a applied to other Business Processes for the same purpose".

"... As a Six Sigma Methodology. As Six Sigma has evolved, there has been less emphasis on the literal definition of 3.4 DPMO, or defects in products and counting processes Six Sigma is a business improvement methodology an organization that focuses on:

Understanding and managing customer requirements

Aligning Key Business Processes to achieve those requirements

Utilizing Rigorous data analysis to minimize variation in those processes

Driving rapid and sustainable improvement to Business Processes".

"At The heart of the methodology is the DMAIC model for process improvement DMAIC is Commonly used by Six Sigma project teams and is an acronym for:

Define opportunity

Measure performance

Analyze opportunity

Improve performance

Control performance".

"... Six Sigma Management System. Through experience, Motorola has learned That disciplined use of metrics and application of the methodology is still not enough to drive Desired That breakthrough improvements and results are sustainable over time For greatest impact, Motorola Ensures That process metrics and structured methodology are applied to improvement are Opportunities That Directly linked to the organizational strategy When practiced as a management system, Six Sigma is a high-performance system for executing business strategy Six Sigma is a top-down solution to help Organizations..:

Their business strategy to align critical improvement Efforts

Mobilize teams to attack high impact projects

Accelerate improved business results

Government Efforts to Ensure improvements are sustained"s

"..The Drives Six Sigma Management System clarity around the business strategy and the metrics that most with that reflect success strategy. It provides the framework to prioritize resources for projects that will improve the metrics, and it leverages leaders who will manage the efforts for rapid, sustainable, and improved business results".

© Copyright 1994-2005 Motorola, Inc.

General Electric (GE), the first large-scale adopters and advocates of Six Sigma after Motorola, and most considered by experts to have been responsible for Six Sigma's rapidly achieved high profile, provide the following definitions of Six Sigma:

Six sigma according to General Electric

"... Six Sigma is a highly disciplined process That helps us focus on developing and delivering near-perfect products and services. Why 'Sigma'? The word is a statistical term that measures given how far a process deviates from perfection. The central concept behind Six Sigma that is if you can measure how many "defects" in a process you have, you can systematically figure out how to eliminate them and get as close to 'zero defects' as possible. To Achieve Six Sigma Quality, a process must produce no more than 3.4 defects per million opportunities. An 'opportunity' is defined as a chance for nonconformance, or not meeting the required specifications. This means we need to be nearly flawless in executing our key processes. "

"... At its core, Six Sigma Revolves around a few key concepts.

Critical to Quality: Attributes most important to the customer

Defect: Failing to deliver what the customer wants

Process Capability: What your process can deliver

Variation: What the customer feels and Sees

Stable Operations: Ensuring consistent, predictable processes to improve and what the customer feels

Design for Six Sigma: Designing to meet customer needs and process capability ... "

© Copyright General Electric Company 1997-2005

Will it evolve or just be another brick in the wall?

Even though Six Sigma has an important place in the field of continuous improvement, but it is not exclusive. Over the decades, Six Sigma has proven itself as a Quality Control System but there is always a risk with the growing use of Six Sigma in the organization. Implementing the various Six Sigma approaches of greatly reduces inconsistency and wastefulness in an organization. But if not attentive, modernization and advancement can be swept away in the process.

"To err is human". Today, many organizations are running with efficiency at a high level with the implementation of Six Sigma. But, as the growth is slowly being focussed upon, the little to no conflicts that allowed the achievement of the goals are now suffocating the potential of growth. Conflicts, or as to be referred as "errors" is essential for a breakthrough expansion. It is creditable that in large organizations, "conflicts" are being eliminated, yet it is not an interference also that securely needs to be avoided. Erring has always proven to open doors to future breakthrough. future breakthrough.

Six Sigma, though may it look similar to other quality management tools: such as Kaizen events, TQM, is quite different in nature. Six Sigma is a never-ending process of improvement without any limitations to ITS applications. There are many enterprises, small medium and large who are implementing Six Sigma in their daily approach and it can be safely thus said that the future is bright for Six Sigma with its growing potential benefits.


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