Six Sigma: Fact or Fiction?

Motorola developed this quality-control strategy in 1986, and in the ’90s Jack Welch, Chairman of General Electric, popularized Six Sigma by training all 276,000 GE employees in its principles. Today many companies in many industries adhere to the Six Sigma strategy. The goal of Six Sigma is to achieve only 3.4 defects per 1,000,000 products or transactions!

Is that truly achievable when you mix process and people together? Six Sigma demands perfection from all your staff, every day! No matter how talented your staff is, can all of them block out distractions outside their work environment to hit this perfection target daily? How do health, personal issues, family problems, child-care costs and concerns, stress, commuting, and fatigue impact staff productivity?

Now, pile on work-related issues such as client requirements and deadlines, employer demands and deadlines, increased responsibility due to staff reductions, information and technical overload, absenteeism and touchy coworker relationships––I’m sweating just writing about all these obstacles that face employers and employees 24/7 in every company in every industry.

Can you succeed in an environment that mandates “99% Right is 100% Wrong”? Six Sigma evangelists say YES because it is metric driven and verifiable. The problem-solving nucleus is based upon five processes: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control (DMAIC). Problem areas are identified, and DMAIC analysis determines the root cause of the problem, allowing the team to develop solutions, including training to reduce errors to an acceptable level. Then, the plan is implemented and its success measured after a predetermined time period.

Despite being aware of the obstacles to its implementation mentioned earlier, I am a disciple of the Six Sigma principles because the goal is to attain an excellent level for client service. Six Sigma accountability reminds us that we must exceed client expectations in every interaction! If your company doesn’t strive to excel, your competitors will be more than happy to replace you.

Conclusion: Six Sigma = Fact!

Author: Ralph Fucci

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