Six Sigma

General Management support is the key driver in successful Lean-Six-Sigma deployment; lack of General Management support is the most quoted reason in 80% of failures.

Motorola Corporation management believes that process variation is the key generator of wasted materials and resources, and they developed Six Sigma, an efficient continuous improvement method to eliminate it; they argue that each of the hundreds of individual components in their products would need to have less than 3.4 defects per million for any particular manufactured product to have an acceptable reject significantly less than 1%. The method is deployed by Six Sigma "Black Belts," a name given to its change agents by Motorola in the mid 1980s .

Six Sigma “DMAIC” uses five successive problem-solving steps called:

  1. Definition of the process problem;
  2. Measurement of the key process variables;
  3. Analysis of collected process data;
  4. Improvement using team based problem-solving;
  5. Control by procedures to lock in long-term success of the improvement.

The Six Sigma method is fully supported by a "tool set" covering a wide range of techniques, spreading from team management to the correct use of statistics. The tools are structured to make them easily applied by the project team.

Six Sigma continuous improvement applies to all organisational processes, whether industrial or service based, and is designed over the long term to rely on the strength of the workforce and not on the skills of external Master-Black-Belt consultants. Before any major deployment, we train the General Management team to understand how the method is deployed: this team identifies an annual programme of Lean-Six-Sigma improvement projects to translate its vision into effective action. Project management is the responsibility of supervisory management, which we train to interact directly with the Six Sigma project teams.

Getting corporate-wide change is impossible without powerful top-down guidance. General Management must communicate the need for change and the sense of urgency during the first stages of deployment; it must show resolve, and be prepared to closely manage the method for a minimum of three years; thereafter, a change culture generally kicks in with little further need for close General Management attention.

The Lean-Six-Sigma Institute

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