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What is six sigma?


Since defects are a natural part of the manufacturing process, Motorola created a process known as six sigma to help identify and remove these defects. Six sigma uses different quality management methods to help reduce the defects to 3.4 per million opportunities. Using statistics and other methods, six sigma assigns roles to different individuals within your organization. Each person is responsible for different things and they are classified as Black Belts, Green Belts, etc.

Every process is created using statistical models and the different belt levels are responsible for carrying them out. Since statistics are behind the entire process, it makes senses that all of your goals will be financially focused. All of the goals will either help the company increase revenue or decrease costs.

When Motorola developed six sigma, they were originally trying to create a program that is focused on identifying defects. Now six sigma is used to do more than just identify defects.

Thousands of companies use it for other things like improving customer satisfaction and reducing wastes. The end result of six sigma is to get as close to perfect as possible, which can be frustrating for companies that are unable to achieve this.

Motorola has also found that when an organization properly implements six sigma, the organization will be able to increase efficiency, cut costs, reduce waste, and save money.

During the manufacturing process, there are multiple steps that take up too much time and this is considered a waste. Six sigma combined with lean manufacturing will help companies achieve their goal of getting as close to perfection as possible while cutting wastes. Here are some tips on how you can start identifying some issues you have:

  • Look at the complete manufacturing process and question areas that seem slow or areas that need improvement.

  • Check for defects in the system and in your products.

  • Measure and collect data that you need. All the other data collections are a waste of your time and money.

Understanding the "Belts"

Six sigma has adopted the belt system of Karate to name the different people within the program. The Black Belts are your most important members. These individuals are your executive leaders that will devote 100 percent of their time to the six sigma system. They will be responsible for the success or failure of the program because it is their job to train others and introduce a six sigma culture to the company.

The Green Belts are your middle leaders. Normally they are the managers of different departments and they spend about 50 percent of their time on six sigma. They are in charge of completing six sigma projects and delegating assignments to others within the company.

The Yellow Belts are considered the lower leaders. They have been trained in the six sigma process but they have yet to complete a six sigma project. Many of them will receive orders from the Black Belts or Green Belts and they will need to work with them on different projects but they cannot create their own project.

The six sigma process is a complete cultural change within your organization. Everyone must spend time on training and become properly certified if you want six sigma to be a success.

Every person that is part of the team must be committed to the process and they must inspire their co-workers to share in their enthusiasm.

It is important to understand that six sigma is a process, meaning it will not happen overnight.

It could be years before you actually start to see results so it is important not to give up on it if you don't have results right away.

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