Blog : What is Six Sigma?

Throwing a light on fundamentals of Six Sigma & its meaning!


What-is-Six-Sigma


Let me tell you that almost 18 years have been passed since the very boomed Y2K sensation. Time flied really fast than we assumed! I am sure you are going to recall all those memories of Y2K!

Today, in this internet & information age, everything, literally everything, starting from a nip of a pen to space shuttle, from a local hotel serving to highly advanced AI-based Customer Support, is getting integrated with latest technology offering ‘never before experiences’. Yet, the core of all these ‘everything’ still remains the same i.e. ‘Quality’!

With easy & almost free access to information, we seek higher quality for every product or service we pay for, directly or indirectly. We have already started demanding quality, haven’t we? We don’t mind switching our loyalties to a better quality products and services. And hence, the businesses are now more curious about making their products and services ‘quality-intact’.

You can read our another blog that describes- What is Qualilty? in simple words.

Let’s now understand the link between Quality and Six Sigma.


In Layman’s language, Six Sigma is nothing but quality improvement methodology that focuses on removing defects from any product, service or process. It accomplishes this by setting up a management system that systematically identifies errors and provides methods for eliminating them.


What is Six Sigma?

In Layman’s language, Six Sigma is nothing but quality improvement methodology that focuses on removing defects from any product, service or process. It accomplishes this by setting up a management system that systematically identifies errors and provides methods for eliminating them.

Six Sigma originates from a 19th Century mathematical theory, but found its way into today’s mainstream business world through the efforts of an engineer at Motorola in the 1980s. Now heralded as one of the foremost methodological practices for improving customer satisfaction and improving business processes, Six Sigma has been refined and perfected over the years into what we see today.


Six Sigma History

Six Sigma was invented by Motorola in 1986. Mr. Bill Smith, who headed the project is known as ‘Father of Six Sigma’.

Motorola recorded a remarkable savings of $16 billion as a result of Six Sigma in only seven years. Six Sigma also helped Motorola to win a highly prestigious ‘Malcomn Baldridge National Quality Award’ in 1988.

Later on, in early 1990’s, Mr. Jack Welch implemented Six Sigma at General Electric that gained the attention of the world.

Six Sigma was heavily inspired by numerous quality improvement methodologies of the six preceding decades such as Quality Control, Total Quality Management (TQM) and Zero Defects based on the work of pioneers such as Shewhart, Deming, Juran, Ishikawa, Taguchi and many others.


Six-Sigma-DMAIC

Significance of Six Sigma

Six Sigma can simply be expressed as 3.4 DPMO i.e. if applied successfully, any company would have only 3.4 Defects Per Million Opportunities (Products/ Services). Six Sigma, the methodology, calls for continuous efforts to get processes to the point where they produce stable and predictable results.

Deconstructing the manufacturing process down to its essential parts, Six Sigma defines and evaluates each step of a process, searching for ways to improve efficiencies in a business structure, improve the quality of the process and increase the bottom-line profit.

Toward that end, the methodology calls for the training of personnel in Six Sigma, including beginner Green Belts, Black Belts who often head up individual projects, and Master Black Belts who look for ways to apply Six Sigma across a business structure to make improvements.


Six Sigma Methodologies

Six Sigma mainly has two methodologies, best known as- DMAIC and DMADV.

DMAIC stands for Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control and used to improve existing process whereas DMADV stands for Define-Measure-Analyze-Design-Verify which is used for starting a new process.


Six Sigma as a Set of Tools & Techniques

Six Sigma, also considered as a consolidated result of numerous tools & techniques being used for decades such as- Five S, TQM, CTQ, Root-Cause Analysis, Pareto, Histogram, Control Charts and hundreds of more.

Abhijeet Mandlecha
Founder-CEO, e-Six Sigma

An IIM-Alumnus with 12+ years of cross-functional experience. Served at Infosys. Certified Six Sigma Black Belt.