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Saturday, January 31, 2009

WHAT IS SIX SIGMA?

WHAT IS SIX SIGMA?

Further to my first post, which was only an overview of Six Sigma, I will go into this topic at length. Six Sigma is a Methodology which cannot be just read and understood overnight. It is a Culture that one has to inculcate within ourselves. I will try to explain in brief each Term, and also try to give links to those pages where you can read at length and in details from the Professionals in this field.

These details have been compiled from innumerable articles from the internet, books, manuals, and Training books. In comments and suggestions are welcome in improving or correcting any error if existing. You kind co-operation in making this blog accurate, and readable will be highly appreciated.

We will in brief try to cover the following topics.
• What is Quality?
• What is Six Sigma
• Uses and Benefits of Six Sigma in Business and Industry.
• The utility and benefits
• Introduction to Six Sigma as methodology
• The Six Sigma organization


What is Quality? - Well the dictionary explains Quality as " the standard of how good something is as measured against other similar things" a very simple definition. In fact it is true that we mention the word Quality when we try to distinguish the excellence of a product or service against the other.

The concept of Quality and the very angle with which we perceive and imbibe it into our systems has changed over the years. 

There has been an Evolution of Quality. Quality can be viewed in two perspectives in so far as Six Sigma is concerned.
  • Reactive Quality- (Historic)
Quality Checks (QC) - Taking the defectives out of what is produced
  • Proactive Quality – (Contemporary).
Create process that will produce less or no defects

Six Sigma follows the second method.

Segments of Quality. When we say segment we understand classification of Quality systems and the way in which Quality is measured and applied to a particular Product, System, or Process.

We can Broadly classify Quality into three major Segments. 

  1. Methodologies.
  2. Standards.
  3. Capability Models.
Let us look at the Segments in brief.

Methodologies: Such as Six Sigma, Lean -Which are Scientific ways to improve capability, and Quality in a process.

Standards:
- ISO 9000, ISO 14000, COPC, Malcolm Baldrige etc- Sharing "Benchmarked" practices - “Standardizing” 

Capability Models: eScm, CMM, CMMI - Best practices to build capability. 
So What is Six Sigma?
  • It is a methodology for continuous improvement
  • It is a methodology for creating products / processes that perform at high standards
  • It is a set of statistical and other quality tools arranged in unique way
  • It is a way of knowing where you are and where you could be!
  • It is a Quality Philosophy and a management technique 
Six Sigma is not:
• A standard
• A certification
• Another metric like percentage

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Two Meanings of Sigma
• The term “sigma” is used to designate the distribution or spread about the mean (average) of any process or procedure.
• For a process, the sigma capability (z-value) is a metric that indicates how well that process is performing. The higher the sigma capability, the better. Sigma capability measures the capability of the process to produce defect-free outputs. A defect is anything that results in customer dissatisfaction.

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As we have said we will take one topic at a time to try and get a better and clearer understanding of this fantastic methodology. Watch out for my next post.

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