First developed at Motorola in 1986, Six Sigma is now used by many organisations within various industrial sectors and is primarily introduced to help a business strive for perfection.
The strategy works by attempting to eliminate defects from a particular process using a data-driven approach. It achieves this by identifying and then removing any causes of errors or ‘defects’ in that process and minimising variability that can affect its overall outcome.
Every Six Sigma project’s success can be measured by quantifiable values, such as reducing costs, increasing profits or making a cycle time shorter. With this in mind, it is easy to determine how effective the removal of each defect is in helping management to achieve its overall goals.
The term Six Sigma has origins in manufacturing and is specifically associated with the statistical modeling of processes within the industry. A Six Sigma is defined as one which achieves a rate of fewer than 3.4 defective products per million created. Motorola set this target for itself back in the ’80s and since then this terminology has been adopted throughout many other sectors.
However, there are many different methodologies when it comes to actually reaching Six Sigma. The two main approaches are known as DMAIC (Design, Measure, Analyse, Improve, Control) and DMADV (Define, Measure, Analyse, Design, Verify).
Another key characteristic of the Six Sigma process is that it directly labels the roles associated with quality management functions. At the top of this pyramid is the executive leadership, followed by champions, master black belts, black belts and green belts.
Black belts in particular are key to achieving Six Sigma, as they dedicate 100 per cent of their time to the execution of such projects. Master black belts work in a similar function, while assisting champions – who are responsible for implementing the process across the company.
While this is a brief introduction to the concept, there is much more that can be learned – why not sign up to one of our management training courses now to find out more about how you can help to make your business more efficient?