One of the best processes improvement methodologies today is Six Sigma, due to its defects removing approach. Today, companies from multiple nations and industries are working under this model, having amazing results and increasing their production effectiveness. This philosophy has been revolutionizing multiple industrial fields since its creation in 196 by Bill Smith, a Motorola engineer and considered the “father of Six Sigma”, who developed this model working as vice-president in this organization.
For the defects reduction, the Six Sigma model uses different statistical tools, with the main purpose of having 3,4 defects in a million of opportunities, in other words, this method seeks the highest level of efficiency minimizing the possible defects in companies’ processes. Thanks to this improvement, the organizations implementing the Six Sigma philosophy can reduce costs, increase their productivity, have better response times and major products and services quality.
Having this context, we can talk about some important concepts that are part of the Six Sigma methodology. Let’s see some of them.
The Six Sigma process
As we have seen in previous posts, the Six Sigma method has two main methodologies; the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control), and the DMADV (Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, Verify). These two models are used for the implementation projects of the Six Sigma approach in any company from any industrial sector. However, the DMAIC model is used for the improvement of an existing process, while the DMADV is used for the creation or the development of a new process or product.
As we mentioned above, this model is used for the effectiveness improvement of an existing process, through a constant measurement and feedback. For a better understanding, it is important to see how the components of this technique work.
- Define: the defining stage is where the requirements are described by the company’s clients or for a particular requirement. In this phase, is where the organization structures the goal or purpose of the process improvement.
- Measure: here, the company must quantify and establish how is the status of the process to be improved. Put differently, in this stage is where the organization measures the data and the real situation of their needs and requirements.
- Analyze: in this phase, the DMAIC model studies the recollected data in the previous stage, so the principal variables and components to be improved are determined. In other words, here is where the factors to be considered are established.
- Improve: this is one of the most important steps in the model because here is where all the data and the defined factors to be improved, merge so the process can be improved. Put differently, here all the previous variables are joined to work with them, making the right movements for refining the mentioned process.
- Control: this is also one of the most important stages in this model because here is where the company makes a continuous study of the taken actions for the process improvement, making feedback and the needed changes.
This model works like the DMAIC, differing only in the two last stages; Design and Verify. In the Design phase, is where the recollected data is used to make the needed changes for the process improvement. The verify stage, is where the model makes the required corrections, giving feedback to the company.
Some Six Sigma tools
Besides the mentioned methods, there are different tools used in every stage of these project models. One of the most valuable techniques is the “5 Whys”, through which the organization makes multiple questions within the process to be improved, with the main purpose of knowing how it works and why it exists, that is to say, that this procedure sets different interrogations, to know why the process is designed in that way and what are the failures and their possible roots.
Another important tool for the Six Sigma implementation is the “cost-benefit analysis”, which let organizations know and understand if the process to be improved and the defined actions to do this, are giving to the organization the benefits it needs with reasonable costs. Other significant and recognized instruments for the DMAIC and DMADV models are the “Value stream mapping”, the “root cause analysis”, the “CTQ tree”, among other elements.
Six Sigma roles
Within the Six Sigma thinking are defined some important roles for the correct implementation and construction of this model. “The Champion” figure includes CEO, managers, and directors, who are responsible for the correct development of the Six Sigma strategy in the companies’ processes, and the definitions of the actions to be taken.
Another key figure is the “Six Sigma leader”, who is responsible for the definition of the processes to be improved, the working teams, the communication channels, among other activities. The “Master Black belts”, who could direct and support the different activities to be taken. The “Black belts”, who are the ones dedicated completely to the Six Sigma projects and their status. The “Greenbelts” who are focused on particular activities.
Related: How Six Sigma is Improving Education by David Kiger
* Featured Image courtesy of Alexandre Rangel at Flickr.com