What Is Six Sigma and how has it become one of the best tools in helping businesses - small and large - move from good to great.
ORIGINS OF THE 6 SIGMA PROCESS
Six Sigma was originally developed by the Motorola Company in the early 1980s as a business management methodology. Companies all around the world want to save money, grow their business and manage expansion in a healthy, competitive and efficient way.
Six Sigma helps to identify and remove the causes of defects, errors and variability in the business processes - whatever that process might be - which in turn improves the quality of output and the whole process.
HOW SIX SIGMA GETS ITS NAME
Six sigma gets its name from the terminology associated originally with manufacturing, specifically the statistical modelling of manufacturing processes. The maturity of the manufacturing process is given a 'sigma' rating which indicates the percentage of defect-free products it makes. A 6 sigma process achieves a statistical probability that 99.99966 percentage of products produced will be defect free. To put it another way, 0.00034% is the sixth sigma level. The goal of 'six sigmas' set by companies has now become an overall term for the highest level production and management practices.
HOW SIX SIGMA WORKS
Each six sigma process or project begins with a defined sequence of steps and has specific, measurable set of financial targets e.g. a 8% increase in operating income or a 30% cost reduction etc.
WHO USES SIX SIGMA
In 2006, Motorola said it saved over 17 billion US dollars by adopting six sigma. Jack Welch introduced Six Sigma to the giant conglomerate General Electric with highly effective results. It's not estimated that around two-thirds of the Fortune 500 companies use 6 Sigma metholodogy.
LEAN 6 SIGMA
Later on, Lean Six Sigma was developed with integrates the Six Sigma process and methodology with Lean manufacturing.Lean manufacturing or lean production is about stripping down any production practice to anything that creates value to the customer or saves money or time, and getting rid of anything else. It was developed initially by the famous Toyota Production System who used Lean Production to become the number one car manufacturer in the world. It's all about increasing efficiency and decreasing waste - not just waste products but waste of time and money - and challenges any pre-existing notions of process and efficiency. Lean Manufacturing uses precise, empirical methods to decide what is working or not.
SIX SIGMA AND MANAGEMENT CONSULTANCY
Many companies are now set up as Six Sigma management consultancies. They advise companies how to maximise their business performance by taking them through the 6 sigma process and offering six sigma training at all levels. They help to set up the six sigma squence of steps, gather data to analyse what's working and what's not, and provide control, review and monitoring to ensure ongoing improvement.
6 SIGMA CERTIFICATION
Individuals can also take six sigma courses and acheive 6 sigma certification. There are also programs on offer in many local colleges and universities. Do an online search for more details or click here for a list of the best selling books on six sigma