What is Six Sigma?

Six Sigma is a quality management method that originally comes from Japan. The precursor of Six Sigma was first used in 1970 in Japanese shipbuilding. The actual development of Six Sigma as a method was done by Motorola in the USA in the mid-1980s. However, SIX SIGMA owes much of its popularity to its implementation at General Electric by Jack Welch.  Later, at the end of the 1990s, the first organizations and companies were even created for SIXSIGMA. The best known are the International Society of Six Sigma Professionals (ISSSP) and the American Society for Quality (ASQ).

Six Sigma refers to a specific approach of a problem. It works exclusively by using numbers, data and facts and thus represents a supplement to process-oriented quality management. Six Sigma can be subsumed under the following categories.

  • Process management and process measurement through key figures
  • Systematic approach
  • Use of tools like statistics and process analysis
  • Culture and Corporate Philosophy
  • Long-term strategy

The special feature of Six Sigma compared to other process management methods is its mathematical approach. In statistics, sigma is the mathematical indicator for the deviation from the mean value. If one recognizes a high deviation in the processes, it indicates bad processes. Six Sigma determines the causal relationship and identifies the causes of process problems. Six Sigma does not only serve to improve quality but can be applied to all processes in the company.

The DMAIC cycle

The systematic 5-phase model describes a logical procedure that is mapped with the DMAIC cycle.

  • DEFINE: What is the exact problem and what is the goal
  • MEASURE: Which processes are responsible and how is the performance
  • ANALYZE: What are the main causes
  • IMPROVE: How to solve the problem
  • CONTROL: How to anchor it sustainably

The method developed on the basis of the PDCA (Plan/do/Check/Act) cycle relies on various tools to help identify and document existing process problems, make them measurable and perform analyses




Six Sigma in the company

Six Sigma brings several advantages. On the one hand, it generates sustainable success and contributes significantly to the growth of a company. On the other hand, Six Sigma increases the value for the customer, as it tries to minimize error-free processes in the process chain.

For Six Sigma there are different roles involved in the implementation of the projects. Belts are used to map the level of the SixSigma role. Yellow Belts are the supporters of Six Sigma projects, Green Belts and Black Belts are the project leaders. The Black Belt takes a leading position in the company. The Six Sigma champion, on the other hand, often comes from the management environment and is responsible for the provision of resources and projects.

Different providers offer training for different SiX Sigma levels. It has to be said that price and quality varies greatly depending on the training provider.

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