Six Sigma Deployment understanding made clear

Six Sigma Deployment understanding made clear

Six Sigma Deployment understanding made clear

Six Sigma Deployment understanding made clear


Several writers/scholars have explained/used six sigma in several ways and six sigma has had its own evolution journey. Today there are multifaceted usage of six sigma – as a problem solving methodology, as a metric, as a philosophy and as a management system.

Six Sigma as a Problem Solving Methodology
One of the most common interpretations and usage of six sigma is as a problem solving methodology. Six Sigma as a problem solving methodology is deployed in organizations today to improve upon the Critical Process Metrics of the organization or the department. All key performance indicators of the organization need to produce their optimum results for the organization to be successful and be able to produce the desired result.
Several organizations today take up six sigma projects to improve the contributing factors to the Organizational Goal or Organizational Y.
The six sigma approach enunciates Y = f(X) i.e. instead of superficially attempting to improve Y or applying quick fixes to Y, we identify the contributing factors (or Xs) to them, statistically validate the relationship between Y & X, and work on improving Xs such that Y is permanently improved.

Six Sigma as a Philosophy

Upon usage of six sigma industries and consultant understood a few very critical takeaways from six sigma implementation story:

1) Customer Focus
One of the significant shift in approach that six sigma brought was the fact that everything was more focused towards the customer. The definition of the term defect changed from being an error, mistake etc to anything not meeting the customer requirement (even while it were as per the organizational design and it was not a defect) Collection of VOC (Voice of Customer) emerged as the greatest mantra for success, success is no longer about creating a fantastic product (which was enhanced/improved from experience) but from the needs of the customer. And this became a very important takeaway for businesses which were struggling to create their own niche in the market.

2) Employee Engagement
A critical success factor for success of six sigma initiatives has always been the participation of the on the ground team. Participation of the on the ground team is imperative as they are the closest to business, interface to the customer, closest to process bottleneck etc. And hence they are the ones who can give you the correct Xs.

3) Distaste to defect and variation
Implementation and organizational orientation towards six sigma meant that as an organization we are promulgating a culture where we look at/attempt eradication of every defect and reduce variation in the organizations processes.

Jack Welch, the iconic GE Chairman explains Six Sigma company – “I see a six sigma company as a company where its management understands that variation is evil and that you can serve customers with what they want, when they want”

Six Sigma as a Metric

It is a common adage that “what you cannot measure you cannot improve”.
Six sigma being a data driven methodology necessitates collection of data for all Critical Process Metrics and their contributing factors. And organizations that use six sigma have gotten into the habit of fact based decision making instead of gut feel based decisions, and once the advantage of data in decision making was understood organizations commenced to use dashboards and scorecards which facilitated decision making etc.
Additionally, post organizations were able to measure metrics (by creation of dashboards/scorecard etc) Six sigma tools of Z Value, DPMO etc were used to convert all metrics into comparable metrics of Z or DPMO. Eg metrics of TAT of recruitment time being collected in number of days was converted to Z value or DPMO and similarly the count of attrition was also converted to Z or DPMO, and for the leadership it became easier to compare the two business processes as they were now in the same unit of measurement of Z or DPMO.
Hence Six Sigma was used as a common yardstick of measurement for business processes.

Six sigma as a Management System

Like many other management systems, Six Sigma also provides three frameworks for process improvement initiative namely DMAIC, DMADV and DFSS.

DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) This framework is mostly used for process improvement initiatives where we already have one existing process that needs to be reviewed for better performance

DMADV (Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, Verify)
This framework is mostly used to create new product or process design. Almost synonymously used for DFSS

DFSS (Design for Six Sigma) is a separate and emerging business-process management methodology related to traditional Six Sigma. While the tools and order used in Six Sigma require a process to be in place and functioning, DFSS has the objective of determining the needs of customers and the business, and driving those needs into the product solution so created. DFSS is relevant to the complex system/product synthesis phase, especially in the context of unprecedented system development. It is process generation in contrast with process improvement.

DMADV, Define – Measure – Analyze – Design – Verify, is sometimes synonymously referred to as DFSS. The traditional DMAIC (Define – Measure – Analyze – Improve – Control) Six Sigma process, as it is usually practiced, which is focused on evolutionary and continuous improvement manufacturing or service process development, usually occurs after initial system or product design and development have been largely completed. DMAIC Six Sigma as practiced is usually consumed with solving existing manufacturing or service process problems and removal of the defects and variation associated with defects. On the other hand, DFSS (or DMADV) strives to generate a new process where none existed, or where an existing process is deemed to be inadequate and in need of replacement. DFSS aims to create a process with the end in mind of optimally building the efficiencies of Six Sigma methodology into the process before implementation; traditional Six Sigma seeks for continuous improvement after a process already exists.

Implementation roles

The Master Black Belt Role
In Depth Understanding of the Philosophy, Goals, and Application of Theory
Ensure Process Issues are Addressed Quickly and Improvements Implemented
Become Quality/Six Sigma “Expert,” Develop/Lead Teams, Train/Coach BBs and GBs, Drive/Direct/Steer Projects to Success, Advise Managers, Communicate Status to Business Leadership and Project Teams, Utilize and Disseminate Six Sigma Tools, Continually Drive Business Focus and Dedication to Quality
Approve project definition and project closure

The Black Belt Role
Individuals with an aptitude for statistics and a strong interest in understanding and making breakthrough improvements in the processes
Ensure Process Issues are Addressed Quickly and Improvements Implemented
Execute and Deliver on Project Results (Expectations 5-10 projects per year), Communicate Project Status, Guide GB Projects and Schedule, Educate others on tools, Demonstrate credible application of tools, Lead Process Improvement Teams

The Green Belt Role
Incorporate tools/methodology of Six Sigma into current jobs to make improvements on processes
Understand 6s Methodology, Communicate Project Status, Deliver on Project Results (Expectation: 2 projects per year), Use tools to improve processes, Sustain improved process after improvement

Origin and meaning of the term “Six Sigma process”

The term “six sigma process” comes from the notion that if one has six standard deviations between the process mean and the nearest specification limit, there will be practically no items that fail to meet specifications. This is based on the calculation method employed in process capability studies.
In a capability study, the number of standard deviations between the process mean and the nearest specification limit is given in sigma units. As process standard deviation goes up, or the mean of the process moves away from the center of the tolerance, fewer standard deviations will fit between the mean and the nearest specification limit, decreasing the sigma number and increasing the likelihood of items outside specification.