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What is Six Sigma?
Phases and Steps
Glossary


What is Six Sigma?

Six Sigma, the highly statistical quality improvement technique is well known and often used at an operational level inside companies to help them cut costs, improve processes, and reduce business cycle times. Less known, however, is the potential of Six Sigma to serve as a means to help companies formulate and deploy their business strategy, and bring about broad-gauge transformation change- to serve, in other words, as a high-order leadership approache, philosophy, and change methodology. Principles of Six Sigma can be used to help:
- Formulate, integrate, and execute new business strategy and missions.
- Deal with constantly changing customer requirements.
- Ensure effective implementation of e-business venture with their associated strategies and infrastructure.
- Accelerate innovation.
- Improve marketing channels.
- Drive systemic and sustinable culure change.
- Improve financial and corporate reporting.
- Manage and mitigate business risk.

In the other words, Six Sigma is a catalist for change at the transformational and operational levels of an organization. It is high-performance, data-driven approach to analyzing the root causes of business problems and solving them. It ties the outputs of a business directly to marcetplace requirements. At the strategic, or transformational level, the goal of Six Sigma is to aligne an organization to its marketplace and deliver real improvements to the bottom line. Strategic Six Sigma approaches provide a framework that potentially can be used to bring about large-scale integration of company's strategies, process, culture and customers to achieve and sustain breakaway business results.

At the operational or process level, Six Sigma goal is to move business product or service attributes within the zone of customer specifications and to dramatically shrink process variation. It provides specific tools and approaches that can be used to reduce defects and dramatically improve process to increase customer satisfaction and drive down costs as a result.

"Quantitatively, Six Sigma means that the average process generates 3.4 defects per million."
- from "6 Sigma Quality - The Goal and The Journey"

If you understand the preceding sentence you have the beginnings of a good grasp of the subject. Look at the sentence closely. First, you see the word, "quantitatively." The Six Sigma process is a quantitative process. It is based on measurement. If you can't measure something, you can't improve upon it. Six Sigma material is heavily analytical. You will learn about measurement processes, analytical tools, and improvement and control of key variables. Without a rudimentary understanding of statistical analysis, Six Sigma cannot be realized.

"Process" is another key word found in the Six Sigma definition above. The Six Sigma approach begins with the customer. What does he want? Specifically? Once you find that out, the focus shifts to the processes that produce it. What are they? What are the potential defects inherent in them? How can the processes be controlled to eliminate, or greatly reduce, defects? How do you measure the success of your actions?

Next in our definition comes the number of defects: 3.4 per million. That's equivalent to 99.9999% perfect. It means reducing field complaints to five per year. It means reducing ANs to three per year. It means only one piping defect per gas turbine per ten years. That's quality.

That is Six Sigma. We presume that every participant in training has been introduced to Six Sigma before now. In collecting this material, we have presumed that you are familiar with Six Sigma terms, like Black Belt, Benchmark, Defect, and Opportunity. If you are unclear, or if you have forgotten some of these basics, a glossary has been provided for you at the end of this introduction.

 

 
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