Tonight I was thinking about some of my experiences since being involved with Six Sigma. One experience came to mind that when looking back, was so funny in the context of the situation, that I can’t resist sharing it.

I was working on a project that was to improve quality of parts arriving to a particular customer. This customer was very critical of our shipping quality, and rightfully so – we had some challenges with the product that we were making for that particular customer. The project had all the essentials of a great project – a clear problem definition, a good scope, variable data to analyze, with process controls that were adjustable (perfect for DOE’s, etc).

I was called into a meeting where we were discussing this product at the customer’s campus, and I (as the project leader of the problem) had to speak on project status. My audience consisted of various managers, and a senior manager who was running the meeting. There were probably ten or so people at the meeting, and I was the lowest organizational level person there. So after a few minutes of initial discussion, I started to give status. I started explaining how we framed the problem, and how our team established good measurement repeatability through the “Measure” phase. I stated that our team was in the “Analyze” phase, and I explained our analysis plan. As I was explaining, I noticed that the senior manager was squirming around in his chair, he seemed to become more and more uncomfortable as I kept explaining.

Finally, he couldn’t resist anymore, and cutting me off he said:

“I don’t care if it takes one sigma, two sigmas, five sigmas or twelve sigmas! I just want the problem fixed… how many sigmas is it going to take!?”

I was completely taken back by this statement, and all of the managers’ eyes turned to me for my answer…. I was at a loss for words until I managed to muster up a response. I said:

“A lot”

What else could I say??

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