Six sigma


Six Sigma is a data-driven approach that can help any organization whatever sector or field it might be operating in bring down inefficiencies and save time and money by reducing ‘quality variations’. Several medium and large sized Indian organizations have been relying in six Sigma and they have implemented it fully, partially or with modifications to suit their needs.

Most managers might have heard six Sigma but not everyone can explain it nor is it easy to find how (or why) black belts, statistics, data mining and mapping all come into it.

But you can certainly make a real effort, with Six Sigma. Yes, the basic aim of adopting Six Sigma is to take organizational processes to the level of near-perfection. Just like other quality management approaches such as Kaizen and TPM, Six Sigma focuses on people working in teams, and continuous improvement as the keys to attaining an optimum point of functioning. This is critical not only for corporations, but also sectors like healthcare, aviation, public utilities and others, where delivery and quality of services offered are important. Often, a consultant’s assistance is sought, since organizations usually don’t have the people and resources to implement Six Sigma on their own. Keep in mind here that Six Sigma is an ideal and many companies are around the 3-4 sigma level, which means that the numbers of errors per million ‘opportunities’ is much more than in a 5 or 6 sigma organization.

Another reason Six Sigma is so popular, is because it saves corporations megabucks. Head, Process Excellence Group, KPIT Cummins Info systems Ltd says that the target gains in profit for 2006-07 through Six Sigma are over a million USD for the organization. The Company chose Six Sigma after careful study because it supports their goal of a metric-based organization, has a project approach which provides them milestone-based measurement, integrates well with other initiatives such as ISO and CMMI and is measurable.

Jack Welch’s directive that his GE managers could wriggle out of Six Sigma training at the cost of losing their promotion only goes to show how important it is to enforce this practice from the top.

The people involved in Six Sigma execution are,

a) Master Black belts who are well versed in the rules of the game.

b) Technically oriented individuals involved in the process of organizational change and development and

c) Employees who lead Six Sigma project teams

High-level steps involved in implementing Six Sigma in an organization are:

* Identify business goals from customer requirements.
* Assess the current level of performance to determine the gaps
* Identify improvement projects and priorities.
* Form Six Sigma improvement teams, comprising stakeholders, for each project.
* Equip the Six Sigma improvement teams with Six Sigma training on methodologies and tools.
* Allocate Six Sigma specialist to support and guide the teams, sponsor to champion the project.
* Track progress of Six Sigma teams through management reviews and resolve issues.
* Audit completed Six Sigma projects to ensure they have achieved the goals.
* Reward and recognize Six Sigma teams.

Six Sigma Basics:

* Strong customer-oriented approach that relies on data to create more efficient processes or refine existing processes.

* Under the prescribed specifications, there cannot be more than 3.4 defects defined as anything that doesn’t add value to the end customer, per million opportunities.

* You can apply it to anything, from making a movie to manufacturing truck tires

In short for implementation of the above it needs the unstinted support of organizational leaders, which emphasizes teamwork and lifelong evolution of practices and processes.

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