Six Sigma: Use it or Lose it

six sigma
There’s always room for improvement, David Kiger is quick to remind small business owners looking to become competitive in their market segment. As the successful business leader who founded Worldwide Express, he has worked with over 30,000 global customers offering shipping logistic strategies for better supply chain management tactics. He has seen companies struggle to understand why they aren’t pulling ahead of the pack but seem to still be spinning their wheels in place trying to make headway in their production and distribution processes.

The main problem was that these companies were striving to become better without working out the inefficiencies that were already present in their operations. It was like they had blinders on to the problems because too many people either told them things were working out well, or they hoped the issues would hash themselves out later and be a lesser risk to their management objectives as the company grows.

It’s a slow business death that doesn’t have to happen to your operations. David Kiger has seen companies pull themselves out of such situations by using a wide variety of management philosophies such as Six Sigma. Yet for any philosophy to work, you have to be fully committed to learning all there is to the management process to determine and eliminate the imperfections causing operations to struggle. Going half-way simply won’t work with a methodology like Six Sigma because all employees in the project and management departments require training suited to their level of involvement in operations.

What is Six Sigma?

Six Sigma relies on a business management philosophy that focuses on the principles that to reach optimal process efficiency, a company has to measure and analyze process defects. Once these defects are discovered, the right solutions can be used.

It sounds simple, yet the ultimate goal of Six Sigma is to seek out process perfection be completely eliminating any variation that can create these defects. Your company has to effectively decrease these deficiencies down to a level that is no more 3.4 defects to every one million process opportunities.

Six Sigma was first developed by the Motorola company as a way for companies to develop higher goal objectives. They would need to have a finely-honed assessment process to eliminate the issues that would affect the achievement of these goals. Other companies such as General Electric and Texas Instruments have adopted the Six Sigma philosophy to reduce process expenses caused by defects and to better optimize operations at every project and management level. While many manufacturing companies have jumped on the Six Sigma process to reduce product waste and to make their production and distribution lines more successful, a wide range of companies can implement this philosophy in operations.

Using Six Sigma

Six Sigma consists of training employees in different levels of this program at the project level and organizational level. There are two processes that form the basis of Six Sigma: Six Sigma DMAIC and Six Sigma DMADV. These strategies focus on improving three areas in your business such as the philosophy, metrics and methodology of your operational processes.

Source: DanielPenfield / Wiki

Six Sigma DMAIC: This process targets existing projects and operations that are running at full capacity. The process analyzes, measures and improves the operations so that they meet Six Sigma quality and specifications.

Source: DanielPenfield / Wiki

Six Sigma DMADV: The DMADV process is used when you have new products, procedures and operations that you want to meet the highest quality standards of Six Sigma.

Each employee is trained according to their team role in the process or project that is seeking Six Sigma improvement. The level of training they receive is based on a colored-belt system that denotes the amount of expertise they have in Six Sigma. Roles that can be implemented in your operations are:

  • Executive Belt: CEOs and top management creating the company’s overall objectives and aligning Six Sigma philosophies to meet business objectives
  • Champion Belt: Chosen by Executive belt leaders to implement Six Sigma through all project and production operations and to mentor lower level Six Sigma roles throughout the company
  • Master Black Belt: Leads and manages projects to ensure Six Sigma implementation is accepted in processes
  • Black Belt: Applies Six Sigma processes in all work endeavors and trains project teams
  • Green Belts: Team members in projects that have adopted Six Sigma to make processes efficient and to get rid of defects

Process Efficiency Lies with Six Sigma

Either you are looking to save costs and eliminate waste in your production processes by making them more efficient, or you ignore the problems that can lead to greater risks down the road. This philosophy is basically what Six Sigma is about, claims David Kiger. You can adopt this methodology in your processes to refine them to an optimal level of performance that can reach your higher goal objectives. And by doing this methodology, you will see the benefits in cost savings, efficient processes, and higher customer satisfaction.

Six Sigma strives to make operations in all types of industries, including manufacturing, more efficient by targeting issues that disrupt processes. By focusing on continual improvement, companies can see cost savings and productivity benefits.

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