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Six Sigma Introduction and Goals May 11, 2008

Posted by Coolguy in Six Sigma goals.
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I will attempt to introduce Six Sigma and various training programs available to get trained on Six Sigma with a series of simple Q&A’s. Refer to my post for additional information on Six Sigma certification

What is Six Sigma ?

Six Sigma is a highly disciplined process that focusses on producing and delivering near perfect products and services. Its a business improvement approach that seeks to find and eliminate causes of mistakes or defects in business processes.

Six Sigma measures defects in million ‘opportunities’ and assigns ‘levels’. There are six such levels. An organizations is said to be at 6 sigma level if it has 3.4 defects per million opportunities. This is the highest level an organization can attain. Average American company is at 4 sigma level. That is equivalent to 6,210 defects per million opportunities.

The six sigma steps for many organizations are described as DMAIC:

Define: Select responses/processes to be improved

Measure: Gather data to measure the process/response

Analyze: Identify the root causes for defects

Improve: Eliminate the cause

Control: Monitor the process/response to sustain improvements

Who developed it?

Motorola developed Six Sigma in 1987. Dr Mikel Harry is credited with the development of Six Sigma in Motorola.

Does Six Sigma really work ?

Short answer is; yes it does !!. Here are some reported facts on how Six Sigma made a difference in big corporations:

  • Six Sigma is believed to have saved Morotola $940 million over 3 years.
  • HoneyWell reported a estimated saving of $1.75 billion in year 1997
  • GE reported a saving of $1.75 billion in 1998 and a accumulated savings of $2.5 billion in 1998.

Why does Six Sigma work ?

  • Typically short project times (6-9) months
  • It forces Senior Management involvement
  • Clear definition of success and its measurement
  • Defined processes for training individuals. (Green belts, black belts etc)

Who is using Six Sigma ? (Just to name a few..)

  • Morotola (Not surprisingly)
  • GE
  • Sony
  • Toshiba
  • Johnson and Johnson

Does getting trained in Six Sigma make sense ?

An average black/green belt will save a company about $175k, if there are around 5 to 6 projects per year. In big corp’s there is about one black belt per 100 employees. So plenty of opportunities there..

Which level of training is right for me ?

Everyone- Orientation Training

Green belt candidates – Green belt training

Supervisors – Overview

Black Belt candidates – Black belt training

Management – Executive training

Master black belts – Master black belt training

Senior management – Sponsorship training

When is it a good time to implement a improvement program like Six Sigma ?

When times are good and when times are bad. When times are bad, focus is on survival. At the same time its important to realize that a company cannot loose money because of poor quality, especially at bad times. When times are good, resources are typically dedicated to take advantage of the opportunity.Improvement projects are typically last on list.However customers are not likely to to repeat business with a company known for quality issues.

When is a company ready for Six Sigma ?

If performance of a company is low, its better to concentrate on basics. Apply cost management techniques and engage with customer. When the performance is OK, set goals and monitor them. Simplify processes. When performance is high, benchmark with other firms, develop and communicate strategic plans and strive to continously improve.

What does Six Sigma measure ?

Six Sigma advocates a holistic view on metrics. After the metrics are established, project teams must work to implementing them.

What should be a first project to implement Six Sigma ?

  • Should be simple but not trivial
  • Should last around 3-4 months
  • Reasonable time and resource constraints
  • Problem should be clearly defined
  • Problem should be measurable


Six Sigma Certification May 11, 2008

Posted by Coolguy in Six Sigma.
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I recently successfully completed my Six Sigma green belt certification (CSSGB) administered by ASQ. While I did blog about some of the tools and techniques of Six Sigma in the past, I decided to do more to help out any one aspiring to be a Six Sigma green belt. This and a next few posts are my attempts to provide a comprehensive overview to anyone attempting the Six Sigma Green belt exam or to anyone just simply trying to learn more about basics of Six Sigma.

The test is divided into 10 modules. Following are the topics in the exam with the % weight for the topic in exam.

  1. Six sigma goals 5%
  2. Lean and DFSS 10%
  3. Define – Teams & Customer 10%
  4. Define – Tools, Projects and Results 15%
  5. Measure – Data & Process Analysis 12%
  6. Measure – Probability 10%
  7. Measure – Capability & Measurement 8%
  8. Analyze – 15%
  9. Improvement Techniques – 7%
  10. Control – 8%

(As I blog about these topics, I will edit this post to add the links)

CSSGB Primer is a must have reference to attempt this exam. This is the only book/material I reviewed to prepare for the exam in addition attending a course at my local community college.

I swear by mindmapping technique. I used mind maps successfully to prepare for my PRINCE2 certifications.

I repeated the technique for this certification too and here is the mindmap I created.