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How to create and maintain a culture of Six Sigma?

Six Sigma was initially created by Motorola in the 1980s, and it gained popularity in the 1990s thanks to General Electric’s use of it and the results it produced. Its most ardent supporter, Jack Welch, was instrumental in the company’s value rising by an astounding 4,000%.

By lowering process variability, it focuses on enhancing customer happiness and business outcomes. Every task involves a process, and every process has variability. Variability can be found all around in nature.

Humans are distinctive due to our DNA. Brothers and sisters have very different personalities, despite having grown up in the same home, with the same family, and attending the same schools. And organisations experience a lot of the same things.

Because employee motives differ, they may react differently to the identical pay raise or set of instructions from a superior. Despite being produced on the same machinery, products differ from one another, and service mileage differs even with the same employee. However, a thorough understanding of variation will show that faults must be attributed to systemic problems rather than employee disinterest.

We must lessen the system’s noise if we hope to eliminate the causes of variation and provide our consumers with consistently good product quality. To accomplish this, we must make decisions based on facts rather than feelings.

This will enable us to implement the changes that will have the biggest impact on our outcomes, increase the effectiveness of our resources, cut non-value-added costs, and improve team morale.

For what purposes?
Where did the phrase “Six Sigma” come from? Statistically speaking, six standard deviations between the process mean and the closest specification limit on either side are what is meant by the term “six sigma.” The initial quality management level, 1 sigma, has a higher tolerance for error, whereas the highest standard, 6 sigma, only allows for 3.4 errors or defects for every million opportunities (DPMO). The Greek letter is used to denote the standard deviation and is used to measure data in sigma units (sigma).

Your process will have 233 DPMO if it is 5 sigma, and 66,811 DPMO if it is 3 sigma. Imagine a hospital with a 3 sigma level; every year, more than 60,000 improper prescriptions for medications would be written! Unfortunately, the industry has settled on this level of quality as the standard.

With a 6 sigma standard, this might be reduced to under 5%. For a typical company functioning at a 3 sigma level, the inevitable expenses of countering and resolving errors could be as high as 25 to 40% of its revenues.

Thankfully, the airline sector is headed in the right direction. The landing sigma level is approximately 6.

An issue of culture
DMAIC, which stands for define, measure, analyse, improve, and control, is the method used by Six Sigma to solve problems step-by-step. All improvement occurs project by project, and in no other way, as Juran, one of the founders of quality management, once stated. When staff are asked to create improvement initiatives each time they encounter an issue, the theory goes, they will begin to engage with the quality culture. They will eventually adopt a different attitude to problem-solving and begin to value continual improvement.

Projects are powerful because everyone involved:

  • translates theory into real-world circumstances and behaviours using high-quality tools
  • knows how they affect their procedures
  • feels more in control as they contribute to creating a superior procedure
  • increases the effectiveness of their daily work and raises the quality of their output.
  • learns to collaborate in groups, occasionally even across functional lines.
  • encourages others to grow

As a final benefit, the project-by-project strategy is also very cost-effective because it doesn’t require a significant initial expenditure. All you need to do is train your team, and quality projects will come as a result. It seems simple, don’t you think?

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