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Zero Defects - not quite - but darn close!

The term six sigma is a statistical measure and a business strategy. Statistically six sigma can be defined as less than 3.4 defects per million opportunities i.e. plus or minus six standard deviations from the mean. e.g. Near Perfection.

As a business strategy six sigma was introduced by Motorola in the 1980's to standardise the way defects were counted, six sigma performance became their five year goal and they set about achieving this through their innovative six sigma programme.

Since then, the six sigma philosophy has been adopted widely by all types and sizes of organisations throughout the world, most notably General Electric, Allied Signal, and Citibank.

The most common approach to six sigma is DMAIC:

D Define a suitable project for Six Sigma efforts based on business objectives as well as customer needs.
M Measure the variables of the process and count the defects.
A Analyse the process to identify and validate root causes of problems.
I Improve the process by implementing and testing solutions.
C Control the modified process to ensure the key variables remain within the maximum acceptable ranges over time.

The benefits of developing a six sigma programme are numerous but simply: less defects, less waste and reduced costs leading to increased customer satisfaction and stakeholder value.

However, as with all business improvement techniques a six sigma programme is not something to be taken lightly. To achieve anywhere near six sigma levels of performance requires long term vision, commitment, leadership, management and training.

What is Six Sigma (pdf 141 kb)
With businesses striving to focus on the customer and achieve competitiveness through consistently reliable products and services, it should be no surprise that the issue of six sigma quality is now attracting increasing attention from manufacturers and service providers in the UK and beyond...
Professor Tony Bendell Services Ltd

Six Sigma Enigma - Taking the Mystery out of the Methodology
Six Sigma is an information-driven methodology for reducing waste, increasing customer satisfaction, and improving processes, with a focus on financially measurable results. This paper provides an excellent overview of six sigma...

Using Your Brain
 (pdf 165 kb)
Six Sigma offers major opportunities for organisations to enhance quality and competitiveness, but some foolish things are being done in its name...
Professor Tony Bendell and Dr Nick Corke Services LTD

Understanding Variation
Understanding variation is important if a process is to be improved. It is critical that the two sources of variation, Common Causes and Special Causes, are identified and handled using the appropriate tools...
Stephen Halliday WDP Consulting

Six Sigma Analysed
(pdf 275 kb)
Six Sigma works - it delivers impressive reductions in cost and, potentially, improvements in customer satisfaction by increasing performance and reducing variation. But there is much more to six sigma than cost reduction...
Professor Tony Bendell and Ted Marra Services LTD

Ford Motor Company - Driving Down Defect Rates
It's a huge undertaking to deliver defect-free vehicles after they have been transported thousands of miles by truck, rail, and ocean carrier to dealerships around the world. When the people at Ford saw that exported vehicles arrived at their final destination point with exterior surface defects, they knew they had to take action. The cost of repairs and the negative impact on customer satisfaction levels drove the company to search for a solution to the problem. In June 2001, a Customer Driven 6-Sigma project team was selected to reduce exterior finish defects caused by the transit protection film on exported vehicles. This case study leads us through the project that secured massive cost savings whilst increasing customer satisfaction...

Making a Mountain out of a molehill (pdf 55 kb)
Six Sigma is a phrase that has not yet hit the majority of businesses in Britain. Only 16%, according to an exit poll at the Best Factories conference in Birmingham, thought that it was a current manufacturing initiative (reported in Works Management July 2000). However, in the USA it is heralded as the next step on the road to quality improvement and business excellence...
Stephen Halliday WDP Consulting

Achieving Total Customer Satisfaction Through Six Sigma

If practice makes perfect, then practicing the precepts of Six Sigma leads to virtual perfection. Six Sigma is a concept for now and well into the next century: It focuses on the customer, not the product! And while philosophers debate and cynics doubt whether anything can be truly flawless, the Six Sigma program developed by Motorola Corp. is winning converts because it works. It brings about a cultural change in a company, a paradigm shift toward expecting the highest quality, which then drives a passion for continuous improvement by all players...

Six Sigma Candidate Profiles
If you are looking to implement Six Sigma or develop your current structure within your organisation, there are a few simple rules which will help narrow the field when looking for suitable candidates both from within your own business and in the wider world according to Roland Lee, green belt trained Six Sigma recruitment specialist at Jonathan Lee Recruitment...
Roland Lee Jonathan Lee Recruitment

Further reading

What is Six Sigma?

What Is Six Sigma?
Pete Pande, Larry Holpp

Six Sigma is a system for improving the quality of organizational processes, and has become one of the most widely discussed and reported trends in business since 1998. This volume is a brief, 98-page, "One-Minute Manager"-style book for employees (not managers) describing what Six Sigma is, why companies are implementing it, why employees should care and how employees can make it a success in their organization. Designed to be given out to every employee in an organization that has decided to implement Six Sigma, the book is based on "The Six Sigma Way" by Pande, Neuman and Cavanagh.

Buy UK Buy US  

Six Sigma Way: How GE, Motorola, and Other Top Companies Are Honing Their Performance
Pete Pande, Robert P. Neuman, Roland R. Cavanagh

Six Sigma Way: How GE, Motorola, and Other Top Companies Are Honing Their Performance

Six Sigma is a data-driven management system with near-perfect performance objectives that has been employed to notable acclaim at leading corporations like General Electric. Its name is derived from the eye-catching statistical target of operating with no more than 3.4 defects per one million chances, but Peter Pande, Robert Neuman and Roland Cavanagh--associates in a firm providing Six Sigma implementation, training and management development services--contend its principles can be applied in businesses of all types to routinely reduce costs, improve productivity, increase market share, and achieve other positive results. The Six Sigma Way is their comprehensive self-help guide to adapting and using the system under various conditions.

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The Power of Six Sigma: An Inspiring Tale of How Six Sigma Is Transforming the Way We Work
Subir Chowdhury

The Power of Six Sigma: An Inspiring Tale of How Six Sigma Is Transforming the Way We Work

This book is for the CEOs who write huge checks to consulting firms without knowing what Six Sigma really is, or how it works. It's for the strategists who have not yet fully grasped how improved quality can beef up the bottom line. It's for the middle managers who have to follow the boss's orders without believing in the programme. But most of all, it's for the "rest of us": the line workers, the support staff, and all the others in non-managerial positions, who fear yet another programme coming down the road, and what it might mean for our work and our jobs This book will help us all -- and in the process, help our respective companies achieve the goals only Six Sigma can help us reach.

Buy UK Buy US  

Browse more Six Sigma books

Six Sigma IQ - The six sigma arm of the International Quality & Productivity Center (IQPC)
The leading independent provider of specialised international conferences for the six sigma

Adams Six Sigma
US dedicated six sigma site providing training, information, jobs, a forum and live chat...

i Six Sigma
US dedicated six sigma site providing articles, tools, jobs and a forum...

International Society of Six Sigma Professionals
US site - professional membership society dedicated to six sigma...

American Society for Quality Six Sigma Forum
The American Society for Quality (ASQ) six sigma forum...

All Six Sigma
This site tries to focus on the practicalities of designing a six sigma project and running a team to get results...

Six Sigma Training







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