Introduction to Six Sigma

Lets start by asking Why Six Sigma?

Currently the world is facing a pandemic COVID-19 and every country has turned it's 'Fire- fighting' switch ON. Health organizations are hustling with patients, Scientists are burdened with a tremendous pressure of finding a vaccine, Governments are busy trying to control the economy while the lay Jack is stuck at home hoping and praying that everything gets stabilized soon. Sounds familiar in the corporate world? Well it may not always be a pandemic which breaks down your organization's machinery, but it could certainly be the performance of your product or service or your employees. It is a pandemic kind of situation at work-place when either of the above fail. Operations have come to a halt, Strategy tries fire-fighting through an approach which not everyone is aware of, Management is losing it's patience and the Big Boss is soon expected to come downstairs with Thor's mighty hammer.

Now that is a situation, we all would like to avoid. So what do we do? Monday morning pep talk, Team building meetings, Strategy planning, Work late hours, etc etc. But all this could have been avoided at the very start. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, "For want of a nail the shoe was lost. For want of a shoe the horse was lost. For want of a horse the rider was lost. For want of a rider the message was lost. For want of a message the battle was lost. For want of a battle the kingdom was lost. And all for the want of a horseshoe nail"

So what exactly is Six Sigma?

This is where Six Sigma comes in. Six Sigma is a data-driven problem-solving methodology. The prime focus is on process improvement by reducing variations by emphasizing on customer satisfaction. Now many may assume it to be no different from Quality management, PDCA and other problem solving techniques. But that's not the case. Although the values of Six Sigma does align to that of the former, the approach is what differentiates itself to all the others. It follows a structured DMAIC approach which assists the Fire-Fighting team to get to the root cause of the issue, amend the process, test the solution and then control errors from occurring in future in order to meet customers needs and set a new Target for the product or process.

How do I know my target?

Six Sigma processes aim to meet the top level quality needs of the customer with an effectiveness level of 99.99967 %. This means a Six Sigma process would produce merely 3.4 defects per million opportunities or less as a result. 99.99967 or 99.5% how does it really matter? Well 99.5% would signify 100 flights cancelled in a day while 99.99967% signifies 3 flights cancelled in 2 months! Six Sigma focusses on a standard structured approach which aims to reduce variations in processes and generate a defect free service for customers.

DMAIC framework

There are five stages to perform a Six Sigma project

  • Define what exactly is the problem faced by your organizations stakeholders
  • Know your voice of the customer

  • Define what exactly is the problem faced by your organizations stakeholders
  • Know your voice of the customer

  • Measure our existing processes
  • How far behind are we from achieving our target?

  • Analyze and identify gaps in the process
  • Can these be filled?
  • Can we standardize the process or reduce variability?

  • Strategize the solution
  • Brainstorm with all stakeholders
  • Have a pilot run for the solution

  • Monitor the improved process
  • Document the findings
  • Control the process and avoid future mishaps from taking place

Why Lean Six Sigma is gaining importance in the present times?

The corporate environment today is quite dynamic. Band aid solutions no longer work in the age of PULL organizations where management is more Precautionary rather than Reactionary. Several small, medium, and large organizations today use Six Sigma techniques knowingly or unknowingly. It is the one of the only forms of Quality management tools which when used systematically, can bring about ginormous proportions of improvement in the organization. Six Sigma experts who are usually graded as Yellow, Green, Black, or Master Black belts, are those quality leaders who can help the organization take enormous leaps rather than incremental spikes. Since its inception, Six Sigma has gained tremendous popularity in industries such as of Manufacturing, Finance, Banking, Healthcare, Logistics, Automobiles, Telecommunication, BPO, Information Technology, etc.

What do I get out of it?

Learning Six Sigma and applying its methodologies can have incredible impact on your career. Being able to put Six Sigma certification into your profile shows your promise to improving your business's understanding and analytical abilities. Six Sigma certification gives you that high professional pedestal to stand out from the competition. This can lead to better opportunities, better salaries, and most importantly streamlines your thought process as a Leader.

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