There is not only one answer to what is Six Sigma.
Firstly, six sigma is a management philosophy. It is a customer based approach realizing that defects are expensive. Fewer defects mean lower costs and improved customer loyalty. The lowest cost, high value producer is the most competitive provider of goods and services. Six Sigma is a way to achieve strategic business results.
Secondly, six sigma is a statistic. Six Sigma processes will produce less than 3.4 defects or mistakes per million opportunities. Many successful six sigma projects do not achieve a 3.4 ppm or less defect rate, which indicates that there is still opportunity.
Thirdly, six sigma is a process. To implement the six sigma management philosophy and achieve the six sigma level of 3.4 defects per million opportunities or less, there is a process to be used. The Six Sigma process is Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control (DMAIC).
6 Sigma Methods
All 6S projects go through the followings stages:
Project selection targeting at under performing business processes or products.
Process exploration. On this stage the business process is formalized into Y=F(Xs) function, where Y is important characteristic of the product or process and Xs are inputs bringing variations to the Y.
Statistical analysis of the elements of Y=F(Xs) formula. Variations in Y are reduced, and performance is improved.
Business plan to implement/sustain achieved improvements.
Six Sigma Champions
Business Leaders who lead Six Sigma by sponsoring projects are called "Champions"
Champions are trained in the essentials of the Six Sigma Methodology focusing on selecting the projects that are aligned with business goals
Champions must select and mentor Six Sigma project leaders called "Belts"
Champions must support, align and integrate the Six Sigma Launch into their organization
Six Sigma Master Black Belt
Often the key support person to the Champions to assist in Project Definition
The mentor and teacher of Six Sigma Green Belts and Six Sigma Black Belts
Requires extensive project management experience
Requires proven mastery of Six Sigma Methdology
Requires proven mastery of Six Sigma Statistical Tools
Often chosen to be the future leaders of an organization
Six Sigma Belts
Belts are Six Sigma project leaders who receive training in the Six Sigma roadmap
Each week of training is separated by one month to allow the Belt to align project progress to the training. Six Sigma Certification requires both projects and training.
Six Sigma Black Belts are project leaders who receive four weeks of training focusing on the Six Sigma Roadmap and extensive statistical methodologies. Successful Black Belts normally dedicate at least 75 percent of their time to a four to six month Six Sigma Project
Six Sigma Green Belts are project leaders who receive six days to two weeks of training on the Six Sigma Roadmap and essential elements of statistical methodologies supporting Six Sigma projects. Successful Greenbelts are able to allocate 25 to 50 percent of their time to their four to six month Six Sigma Project.
Six Sigma Projects Selection Criteria
"A problem with an unknown solution"
Projects must be aligned to organizational priorities
Depending on the organization, have value at least HK$800,000 for Black Belts and HK$200,000 for Green Belts
Projects can also be directed to high priorities metrics not only money
Be scoped so can be completed in 4 to 6 months
Follow the Six Sigma Project Roadmap
Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control or DMAIC
Normally Six Sigma Projects are reviewed before the completion of each phase
Help create a learning organization by documenting completed projects
Project savings be signed off by finance
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