Is 7 Sigma Possible?

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Don’t know, never been there – I’m still striving for 5-sigma (at least on a personal level). Given where the world is right now, many followers of Six Sigma (including myself) would say that a capability of 7-sigma is pessimistically possible, but not pragmatically probable. Maybe when I hit a 5-sigma level of capability, I can look out to the horizon and see past Six Sigma. But from my current vantage point, I cannot comprehend what life must be like at 7-sigma.

Imagine having only 1 disagreement with your spouse every 4,298 days (or about every 12 years).  This would be a 5-sigma level of performance. A capability of 6-sigma would be 1 argument every 298,048 days or 805 years! Realizing a 4-sigma level of capability would translate to 1 dispute every 161 days, whereas a 3-sigma level of capability would develop a momentum of 1 occurrence out of every 15 days. On the downside of things, we should recognize that a 2-sigma level of capability translates to 1 fight every 3 days. Do we dare go lower?

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Alas, we find romanticism in the practice of Six Sigma – what more could you want? Perhaps a 7-sigma level of companionship would be considered eternal love, where as 5-sigma level would be deemed a life-time love. Maybe a 3-sigma level constitutes the need for counseling. Perhaps now we can all better understand why I (and others) have paid little attention to what is beyond a Six Sigma level of quality. Thus, we have paid tribute to the phrase “elevating your aim” while concurrently constraining ourselves to a sigma value far less than the number 7.

In closing, we should be reminded of the wisdom given to us by Franklin P. Jones: “Love doesn’t make the world go round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile.” To this end, I implore us to imagine a world where everyone gets more than 300,000 rides – truly a Six Sigma life.

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