IMPLEMENTING AND MANAGING SIX SIGMA
Charles A. Aubrey II
APQO President and ASQ Past President, USA
The six sigma approach to managing, assuring and improving quality has taken on world-wide proportions. It has been with us now, publicly since 1988 when Motorola won the Malcolm Baldrige Excellence Award. It can no longer be considered the “flavor-of-the- month” managerial technique. In the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Middle East six sigma is being practiced effectively and is generating significant breakthrough results.
Six sigma is effectively the best practices that have emerged from a combination of past techniques and approaches such as Statistical Process Control, Total Quality Management, Quality Circles, Participative Management, Management By Objectives, Toyota Production System and others. The great difference is that these best practices have been codified into “bodies of knowledge”, that so far, have been standardized worldwide. These are commonly know as yellow belts, green belts, black belts, master black belts, champions and sponsors,
Of course Motorola provided the proof that the three sigma constraint was no longer valid and that six sigma performance could be achieved through continuous improvement-a significant contribution. Performing at 99.9997 percent yield or no more then 3 defects per million opportunities or cost of poor quality at less then one half of 1% or 98% very satisfied customers is still elusive for many organization but it is within their sights.
Keys to an effective six sigma process are in the details of how it is practiced. It uses five steps called DMAIC or Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve (Implement) and Control. Within these steps are important approaches. These include clearly defined roles and a supporting infrastructure that is integrated into the leadership process of the organization.
Strategy and customer needs prioritize the improvement opportunities that are necessary and critical-to-quality (CTQ’s) elements determine what level of performance improvement must reach.
Measurement, data analysis and process management provide, along with creative techniques such as brain writing, analogies, idea boxes and morphological charts, the engines to propel the breakthrough thinking and change management. Significant performance results are achieved through this toolbox of best practices.