Six Sigma

Written by Nicholas Kamuda
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Six Sigma has grown out of the boom of organization practices and asset management in the last 30 years. It is a system of thinking and business practice that aims to reduce the standard deviation in performance to 3.4 parts per million. Six Sigma has been developed to apply to the physical assets, human resources, and production lines of hundreds of successful companies worldwide.

The core of Six Sigma lies in "data driven decision making." It calls for work output to be seen as a function of input, according to the basic equation y=f (x), where Y is the output, X is the many inputs, and f is the process. By applying this equation to manufacturing processes, we see that the output cannot be directly controlled; it must be altered through changing the function of the input. This mindset allows practitioners of Six Sigma to shoot to the heart of problematic operations or systems.

The Steps of Six Sigma

The most basic route for those who apply Six Sigma is broken down into a process called DMAIC. The steps of DMAIC are to Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control. The first step is to Define every possible input variable for a process. Though this step can be lengthy, it is necessary because often we troubleshoot and maintain variables that aren't the correct key variables in a process. By systematically Measuring the effect that every variable has on output, we begin to narrow the scope of the project.

During the Analyze and Improve stages, Six Sigma specialists begin to draw a clearer picture of which variables are critical to successful output. They also begin to brainstorm tactics that may build upon the results of analysis, eventually developing a Control plan that, when successfully implemented, can reduce standard deviation of output to an acceptable number. The direct benefits this has on the business are readily apparent, including improved customer satisfaction and increased profitability.


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