Why Six Sigma?
Jack Welch said – about 70% of Six Sigma is covered by just knowing one statement: “Variation is evil.” Any Six Sigma practitioner knows this. However, how well has your Six Sigma effort translated this mantra into widespread understanding throughout the organization as to why this is so important? Six Sigma is important because by focusing on eliminating variation, a business is more capable of meeting (or exceeding) customer needs and because, as with LEAN concepts, it results in reduced waste – wasted resources of many kinds such as wasted time, wasted materials or wasted expenses. Sometimes this waste is found in people doing work to fix things that are different each time they occur. Sometimes products behave differently as they come through the operation or over time. This is poor quality and it creates unsatisfied customers. Money is lost and time is wasted when a company has to spend resources to control and manage the processes that produce the product or service they are selling.
Six Sigma is, therefore, a fundamental precept that applies to every kind of business or endeavor. By minimizing variation, we can minimize wasted resources, time, and money, and we can improve customer satisfaction. You can educate members of the organization in problem-solving methods such as Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control (DMAIC.) You can include in your kit a number of statistical and root-cause analysis tools. But more than educating your organization in regard to the evils of variation, Six Sigma professionals must translate the root cause and critical-thinking tools into a methodology for making decisions. So, in order to enjoy the benefits of Six Sigma, Six Sigma Professionals must:
- Ask for the data to show the variation in a specific process
- See what that variation costs the organization
- Collaborate with the team on the best way to improve the situation
- Implement the changes needed
- Review the results over time to be sure the changes stick
This is a data-driven process to make an informed decision as to how to improve performance. It cannot rely on only a few select people who are educated in statistical methods tasked to try to explain in a few minutes what may have taken hours or days to work out. While not as easy as falling off a log, and possibly a significant change in culture, this is how Six Sigma can be successfully implemented in your organization.
The Six Sigma training required of the decision-maker is not just the basic definition of the “how to”, but a deep understanding of the underlying reasons as to how variation wastes money. Basically, it is critical that the correct people are provided with the skills to embrace the Six Sigma philosophy.
Here’s some food for thought regarding your Six Sigma program: Are the evils of variation understood by decision-makers? Can they define the degree to which this is so? Can they translate and explain what can and should be done with variation to achieve the objective of reducing waste and saving money? For any Six Sigma program, the answer to these questions most certainly should be “yes.” Take a moment to ponder how effective your decision-makers are at assessing and managing variation and how these skills might be improved.
It is indeed the path to making your Six Sigma program be the very best it can be.
For additional information on this Six Sigma article, or if you would like to speak to one of our consultants, contact Tom Rinne at 763.253.9121 or email@example.com.
Author: Alan Brown, P.E. of Brian P. Little & Associates. Trusight certification and consulting services in Productivity and Quality Assurance are provided through a partnership with Brian P. Little & Associates.
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