Six Sigma Introduction - What is Six Sigma


What is Six Sigma ?

  • Six Sigma's aim is to eliminate waste and inefficiency, thereby increasing customer satisfaction by delivering what the customer is expecting.

  • Six Sigma is a highly disciplined process that helps us focus on developing and delivering near-perfect products and services.

  • Six Sigma follows a structured methodology, and has defined roles for the participants.

  • Six Sigma is a data driven methodology, and requires accurate data collection for the processes being analyzed.

  • Six Sigma is about putting results on Financial Statements.

  • Six Sigma is a business-driven, multi-dimensional structured approach to:

    • Improving Processes

    • Lowering Defects

    • Reducing process variability

    • Reducing costs

    • Increasing customer satisfaction

    • Increased profits

The word Sigma is a statistical term that measures how far a given process deviates from perfection.

The central idea behind Six Sigma is that if you can measure how many "defects" you have in a process, you can systematically figure out how to eliminate them and get as close to "zero defects" as possible and specifically it means a failure rate of 3.4 parts per million or 99.9997% perfect.

Key Concepts of Six Sigma

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 sees and feels.

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

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

Our Customers Feel the Variance, Not the Mean. So Six Sigma focuses first on reducing process variation and then on improving the process capability.

Myths about Six Sigma:

There are several myths and misunderstandings about Six Sigma. Few are given below:

  • Six Sigma is only concerned with reducing defects.

  • Six Sigma is a process for production or engineering.

  • Six Sigma can not be applied to engineering activities.

  • Six Sigma uses difficult-to-understand statistics.

  • Six Sigma is just training.

The Benefits of Six Sigma

There are following six major benefits of Six Sigma that attract companies.

Six Sigma:

  • Generates sustained success.

  • Sets a performance goal for everyone.

  • Enhances value to customers.

  • Accelerates the rate of improvement.

  • Promotes learning and cross-pollination.

  • Executes strategic change.

Origin of Six Sigma

  • Six Sigma originated at Motorola in the early 1980s in response to achieving 10X reduction in product-failure levels in 5 years.

  • Engineer Bill Smith invented Six Sigma, but died of a heart attack in the Motorola cafeteria in 1993 never knowing the scope of the craze and controversy he had touched off.

  • Six Sigma is based on various quality management theories (e.g.: Deming's 14 point for management, Juran's 10 steps on achieving quality ).