Since its inception, Six Sigma has evolved into a brand name that is used to describe a quality improvement method. Begun in the mid 1980’s by Motorola company, Six Sigma was a method of measuring quality control and reduce defects. At that point, it was simply a statistical model that would allow Motorola to measure the number of defects per million units produced.
Pleased with the results they were experiencing, they began to expand the use of the Six Sigma methodology, and now it has become the leading management method in the world. To understand Six Sigma, one must understand the important concepts of the methodology. Six Sigma has six key components:
- Critical to Quality (What is most important to the customer?)
- Variation (What does the customer see and feel?)
- Process Capability (What can you actually deliver?)
- Defect (A failure to meet customer needs.)
- Stable Operations (Consistent process to deliver what customer requires.)
- Design for Six Sigma (How can you meet the customer’s need?)
Through Six Sigma, companies learn to work together as a team. The basis of the strategy relies on the adherence of the team members to the process, and is designed to be a self-starting and sustaining process. To accomplish this, the team is encouraged to take initiative and responsibility for putting the Six Sigma methods to use within the corporation. Within the Six Sigma method, adherents have established their own vocabulary and generated their own method of training that is still relevant to today’s world of business. For example, in the Six Sigma framework, an employee can use the DMAICT method to evaluate what needs to be done.
D: Define opportunity
M: Measure performance
A: Analyze opportunity
I: Improve performance
C: Control performance
T: Transfer best practice
The team leader (referred to as a ‘Black Belt’) works with the team to analyze and measure the selected process, and then develops a plan of action to make improvements. In a nutshell, Six Sigma is a method that is geared towards creating a framework for a company to improve.