Introduction to Six Sigma

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“Six Sigma” is a federally registered trademark of Motorola.

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Six Sigma is a data-driven approach that works towards improving the quality of the products by reducing the number of defects in the products or process. Six Sigma aims at achieving zero defects in the products but since it is practically impossible to achieve zero defects Six Sigma tries to achieve as close to zero defects results as possible.

Six Sigma is a methodology for minimizing mistakes and maximizing value.

Six Sigma is

  • strategic: Six Sigma is a strategic approach that works across all products, processes, company functions and industries. Six Sigma uses strategic techniques to achieve its goals and objectives.
  • about customers: There are 2 concepts
    • 1.Product out concept: Is a situation in which the company sets certain standards and works towards achieving those standards. In this case, a product is considered as a good product if it adheres to the company standards irrespective of the customer’s satisfaction with the product. This approach will be compromised with an unexpected change to customer tolerances, and therefore a better alternative is used which balances out the company standards and customer satisfaction.
    • 2. Market In concept: Focuses on customer satisfaction. The company puts in place a mechanism to study consumer preferences with respect to its product and then adjusts accordingly. Six Sigma focuses on the customer needs rather than short-term financial gain.
  • about the process and scientific investigation: It moves an organization towards working with facts and data. The process begins by formulating a goal and objectives and then deriving a plan to achieve them. Six Sigma follows a step by step process to understand the data, perform analysis and then observe the results.

CAN WE REALLY LIVE WITH OLD STANDARDS?

To illustrate why 99 percent quality level is not acceptable, consider the following:

  • at major airports, 99 percent quality means two unsafe plane landings per day;
  • in mail processing 99 percent quality means 16,000 pieces of lost mail every hour;
  • in power generation, 99 percent quality will result in 7 hours of no electricity each month;
  • in medical surgery, 99 percent quality means 500 incorrect surgical operations per week;
  • in water processing, 99 percent quality means one hour of unsafe drinking water per month;
  • in credit cards, 99 percent quality will result in 80 million incorrect transactions in the UK each year.

Therefore, it proves that even 99% efficiency is not sufficient to be considered as an acceptable standard. Thus, SIX SIGMA comes into the picture to help organizations to improve the efficiency and reliability of products by using a pre-defined strategic approach for minimizing the errors and providing 99.9996% efficiency.

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