So what is Six Sigma?

I thought I would give you a quick overview of Six Sigmas history and practice.

Six Sigma what does that mean?

Six Sigma is a process based methodology for pursuing continuous improvement. Companies use this methodology to reduce defects in their processes. Companies measure their performance by the sigma level of their business processes. Initially, companies accepted three or four performance levels as the standard. These processes created 6210 to 66,800 defects /per million opportunities. The sigma level of 3.4 defects per million opportunities is a reaction to increasing customer expectation and the fact that business processes and products are becoming increasingly complex and competitive. The primary aim of Six Sigma is to focus on the customer first and then use facts and data based on customer requirements to get better results or improve the process. Thorough understanding of the process and the product drives the business and fulfills customers’ expectations.
Sigma, S, is the Greek letter used to measure the variability in the process. Six Sigma stands for Six Standard Deviations from mean. Standard Deviation is a statistical method to define how much variation exists in a set of data or a process.

History of Six Sigma

The History of Six Sigma can be traced back to the time of Carl Frederick Gauss (1777-1855). He is said to have introduced the concept of the normal curve. Perhaps as a standard of measurement in product variation, Walter Shewhart in 1920’s showed that a process needed correction whenever it reached a point where three sigma were produced from the mean.
Edward Deming, the 'Godfather' of quality brought about immense change in the approaches and attitude towards quality in the early 1950s. Later many standard measurements like Cpk, Zero Defects, etc. were found to exist.
In the 1980s, Mikel Harry, working for Motorola, focused on Deming's concept of process variation as a way to improve performance. But the real credit goes to Motorola engineer, Bill Smith, for coining the term ‘Six Sigma’. The engineers working there found that the traditional quality levels used for measuring defects in thousands of opportunities did not provide a proper measurement system analysis.
Therefore, with the ropes of success being in the hands of Bob Galvin, the chairman of Motorola in 1987, a new standard methodology was created known as Six Sigma. With the help of Six Sigma methodology, Motorola produced powerful results. It is said that they documented more than $16 billion in savings as a result of applying Six Sigma efforts.

Since then, many top companies have adopted Six Sigma for successful business. Companies like General electric, Allied signal, Honeywell, Honda, Sony, Cannon, Polaroid, and many more are using Six Sigma methodologies. It is more than just a quality system like TQM or ISO. It's a way of doing business.

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