What Is Six Sigma?

One cannot continue to write about how to achieve perfection without understand the notion of perfection. The same theory applies for the Six Sigma method. Six Sigma at many organizations simply means a measure of quality that strives for near perfection. So what exactly is Six Sigma? It can be called a disciplined, data-driven approach and methodology for eliminating defects in any process. This means a firm using the Six Sigma approach, methodically tries to correct all defects from the manufacturing to the transactional process and from product to service.

If we go as per the definition, to achieve Six Sigma, a process must not produce more than 3.4 defects per million opportunities. A Six Sigma defect is defined as anything outside of customer specifications. A Six Sigma opportunity is then the total quantity of chances for a defect. Process sigma can easily be calculated using a Six Sigma calculator. Isixsigma.com reports:

The fundamental objective of the Six Sigma methodology is the implementation of a measurement-based strategy that focuses on process improvement and variation reduction through the application of Six Sigma improvement projects. This is accomplished through the use of two Six Sigma sub-methodologies: DMAIC and DMADV.


It’s not enough to ask “What is Six Sigma” one must also ask “How do I successfully Implement Six Sigma”. When more than half of all six sigma efforts fail do to poor implementation. We need much less “Top Down Expert Opinion” and much more grass roots, workgroup level strategy that can gain a foothold in the organization and expand over time.


Not only knowing what is 6 Sigma..Implementation and followup in the later stage has to be tought properly, in order a project is successful.
If project is executed with million of saving but no follow-up it will be down the drain of all the team effort.

This article is pretty good for a person who ain’t know what is 6 Sigma is all about.

Posted by: Richard | Jan 12, 2007 5:05:41 AM

My experience has shown that unless the top management are “engaged” in the process and product of six sigma the implementation will almost never get past concept.
This then leaves a legacy of failure and the stigma of “sick sigma”. Tried but not used.
Little efforts can give small reward with 5S and simple techniques, but the larger picture should always be considered. Get the buy in and motivate / sell to senior management and then you will get results.