A Profile of the Six Sigma Strategy

The Six Sigma strategy was originally developed in 1986 by officials with Motorola, U. S. A. By 2010, it had become a dominant factor in the management of businesses across many industries. Its fundamental goal is to enhance the quality of processes and outputs through the identification and removal of defects. To this end, it also minimizes the variability of business and manufacturing procedures.

Six Sigma’s doctrine includes seven key components. Among them is the assertion that ongoing efforts to maintain the predictable and stable results of processes are vitally important. Also, there are facets of all business and manufacturing processes which can be segregated, analyzed, controlled, measured, and improved. In addition, sustaining quality improvement requires dedication from all members of an organization, especially high-level management.

This strategic approach embraces four factors which were not identified prior to its development. They include recognition of the importance of a clear focus in order to achieve measurable financial returns. Also, the need for passionate and competent leadership is strongly emphasized.

An infrastructure must be established to help implement and guide this strategic business approach. They include specialists such as Champions, Black Belts, Master Black Belts, and Green Belts.  These professionals go through extensive training and are then certified at a certain level of expertise.   Finally, all members of management must agree to base their decisions upon verifiable information, rather than assumptions.

In order to professionalize the functions of top-level management, several roles have been defined. Executive Leaders include the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and other members of the top-management team. Their responsibilities include outlining a vision for the implementation of this strategic plan.  Champions are responsible for implementing the program in an integrated manner. They are usually members of upper-level management, and function as mentors to the Black Belts. These professionals are selected by the Executive Leaders.

Master Black Belts are selected by the Champions. They function as expert in-house coaches. Their duties include ensuring the consistent implementation of the program across various departments.  Black Belts report to the Master Black Belts. They are responsible for applying define methods to specific projects. Their primary focus is the execution of the program through the use of Six Sigma Projects.

Green Belts function under the guidance of the Black Belts. These employees help to implement the program in addition to performing their usual job responsibilities.  Some corporations have developed certification programs. They train their employees, then assess and designate their skill levels. Since no international standards have been set, these training programs have various requirements.

Based in the statistical field of process capability, this technique utilizes several quality management methods. Among them are statistical methods, variance analysis, check sheets, regression analysis, control charts, cost-benefit analysis, stratification, scatter diagrams, root cause analysis, run charts, linear models, cause and effect diagrams, business process mapping, correlation, process capability, quantitative marketing research, and FMEA (Failure-Mode and Effects Analysis). In addition, SIPOC (Supplier, Inputs, Processes, Outputs, Customer) analyses are conducted.

The Six Sigma strategy is most beneficial to large corporations who have more than 500 employees. During 1998, the program received wide-spread notoriety when a major corporation announced it had saved 350 million dollars due to the implementation of this plan. For more than 25 years, this strategic approach has been successfully applied to processes in a wide range of industries.