What is interesting here is that it gives an introduction to the Six Sigma methodology, without going into (annoying) detail. On the contrary, these short notices invite reader to know more, especially about tools and real use cases.
Here are some notes I took when reading this course material.
Introduction to the Six Sigma methodology
The video for this introduction is available at:
Six Sigma Strategy
The Six Sigma Strategy is about improving customer satisfaction and shareholder value by reducing variability in every aspect of your business.
Why using Six Sigma?
Using Six Sigma delivers customer satisfaction and cost improvement results faster.
Six Sigma defined
Sigma is a way of measuring perfection
- 3 sigma = historical standard for 93.32% perfection
- 4 sigma = current standard for 99.38% perfection
- 6 sigma = future standard for 99.9997% perfection
Why not (only) 3 sigma?
Because 3 sigma still generates:
- 20,000 lost articles of mail per hour
- 15 minutes of unsafe drinking water each day
- 5,000 incorrect surgical operations each week
- 2 short/long landings at most major airports each day
- 200,000 wrong drug prescriptions each year
- no electricity for 7 hours each month
- 40,500 newborn babies dropped each year
In comparison, with 6 Sigma, you get:
- 1 incorrect drug prescription every 25 years
- 3 newborns dropped every 1 century
White Belt Lesson 1: What is Six Sigma
You can download the full ‘What-is-Six-Sigma’ PDF document.
Two ways to define “Six Sigma”:
1) Quality management methodology that uses different theories and tools to improve upon the processes of a certain business.
2) Statistical way: ‘Sigma’ (σ) is a Greek letter used to represent the statistical term ‘standard deviation’ which measures the deviations from average in a particular business process.
The first goal of the Six Sigma Methodology is to discover all of the problems within an organization that may or may not be apparent. This is done through much research and data collection.
One of the most important things to note about the Six Sigma Process is that it does not rely on quick-fix programs to temporarily mask a business problem. It is a systematic methodology of hard work that is fused with a disciplined, factual, data-based and statistical problem-solving method.
Therefore, it affects almost all aspects and levels of a company, which can create panic among employees if it is not thoroughly explained, through a process called change management.
White Belt Lesson 2: Six Sigma History
You can download the full ‘Six-Sigma-History’ PDF document .
The Six Sigma Methodology is one of the most popular business practices used today.
Employees of the Motorola Corporation, which manufactures wireless infrastructure technology, are credited as the first to create and implement this methodology in the mid-1980s. Many other quality control methods such as ISO 9000 or Total Quality Management (TQM) have come and gone, but Six Sigma remains as the most popular method currently in use.
The Motorola Corporation has reported saving upwards of 16 billion dollars by using these concepts over the years. Many other companies have adopted this methodology as more than just a quality control system, but also as a total business plan.
As the methodology has progressed over the past 3 decades, the companies that use this improvement method are not limited to manufacturing companies or technology retailers. Six Sigma is popular today among hospitals, toy makers, clothing retailers, financial services, banks, and the military as a method to improve their performance.
Motorola has stated that it is a management system, a metric system, and a methodology.
1) As a management system, it is reported to:
- Ensure improvements are sustained.
- Bring production teams together to maximize their efforts.
- Bring business strategies in line with improvement efforts.
- Accelerate results.
2) As a metric system, the term, sigma, is used as a scale of quality and in this case, it refers to the goal of ‘6 sigma’ or 3.4 defects per million. So, it started as a means to reduce defects, but then the principals of it were carried over to other areas of business development.
3) As a methodology, it is used to keep the main focus of the company on understanding the needs of the customer, then developing the process to meet those needs by using data and statistics to minimize variation in production, and create sustainable business models. There is a breakdown of responsibility according to training level and knowledge base called the Six Sigma Hierarchy.
White Belt Lesson 3: Six Sigma Roles and Responsibilities
You can download the full Six-Sigma-Roles-Responsibilities PDF document.
The Six Sigma Certification Level Hierarchy is composed by:
- Executive Leadership/CEO
- Six Sigma Champion
- Six Sigma Master Black Belt
- Six Sigma Black Belt
- Six Sigma Green Belt
- Six Sigma Yellow Belt
- Six Sigma White Belt
Each of these ‘belt levels’ of certification correspond to varying degrees of Six Sigma knowledge and skills gained through training and experience.
White Belt Lesson 4: DMAIC/DMADV
You can download the full Six-Sigma-DMAIC-DMADV PDF document.
DMAIC is a systematic Six Sigma Process used to perfect business processes already in place:
DMADV is a systematic Six Sigma Process used to create and perfect brand new products or services:
3) DMAIC in detail
DMAIC is the more common method used. Each phase in this model has a significant purpose and different procedures that are used to make sure results are correct. A team is put together to make sure that each phase of the model is completed in the proper order.
Define: defining the goal of the project and the requirements of both internal and external customers. It means searching the company procedures to identify what and where the issues are that are causing the biggest problems.
Measure: collecting and storing all pertinent data for quantification.
Analyze: looking at options in the existing business process, determining the causes of any errors, and the evaluation of corrective measures already in place or those that have been planned to be implemented. This step requires to be familiar with the overall business process in order to analyze the data sets accurately.
Improve: implementing solutions that have been created based on the data that was received while identifying issues and brainstorming for usable resolutions. During this step, it is important to implement the plan and let the employees know of the adjustments that will need to be made.
Control: making sure that any obstacles that come up are taken care of properly and promptly.
4) DMADV in detail
Define, Measure and Analyze phases are similar to the DMAIC. Only the last two steps are different:
Design: designing new processes to provide stronger support and problem preventing and solving measures. This will deal with the correction or elimination of the identified error at its root to help bring the business model into alignment with the targeted specifications or goals set forth in step one.
Verify: part monitoring and part simulation. If the plan or process has yet to be implemented, then one must try to simulate it to ensure that the error or errors have been eliminated. If the project is in place, then monitoring the changes must be done in order to determine its effectiveness or the necessity to make further changes.