The following items recur too frequently in my daily activities. I submit them as “pet peeves” to raise awareness of them. OK, let’s be honest – venting helps me too.

Pet Peeve 1: People who are more concerned with obtaining a Six Sigma certification than with what the newly acquired skills will allow them to deliver to their organization.

We work to deliver value to our business and to the customers of our business. The result of doing this well is professional growth. Shouldn’t business professionals get their priorities straight?

Pet Peeve 2: Six Sigma being equated to or viewed as little more than TQM.

To the uninitiated, Six Sigma and TQM may appear similar since many tools overlap. Others view Six Sigma as an evolution of TQM. I agree that Six Sigma has evolved from much of the work of TQM and many great minds. But for those who think there’s no difference, I submit that there may be no difference between the process capability of their thinking and that of our tree-dwelling ancestors. As Mikel Harry states, “We need to focus on the quality of business, not the business of quality.” Let’s evolve together.

Pet Peeve 3: Describing Six Sigma as solely a cost-cutting or productivity enhancement strategy does not tell the whole story.

Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) – what I like to call “the other Six Sigma” – can produce the same order of magnitude in financial benefits as DMAIC (as seen in the July/August research of iSixSigma Magazine). But it also provides the ability for an organization to change and innovate, and become a market leader.

Pet Peeve 4: If I receive one more email asking if Six Sigma can apply to business processes other than manufacturing, I may yell.

Let’s recite the following together:

  1. Businesses produce products and/or services for sale.
  2. Products and services are produced through a set of processes.
  3. A process is a series of activities that use inputs, add value and produce an output.
  4. Although individual steps vary from process to process, any set of process steps can be defined, measured, analyzed, improved and controlled (Six Sigma).
  5. Six Sigma can apply to any product or service because they are produced by processes.

Pet Peeve 5: I’ve gone past the point of yelling when I receive questions like “What is Six Sigma?” or “How do I learn Six Sigma?”

Now I just shake my head slowly to myself. The entire iSixSigma editorial team has worked diligently for five-plus years creating the finest set of resources available for understanding Six Sigma. We even created a “New to Six Sigma” page that is in a visible location of every page, and we have a state of the art search technology on the website.

When it comes to learning Six Sigma, I can only say that people learn in different manners. Some can read a book and go implement effectively. Others may be able to take an online course and be ready. Like many others, I prefer to learn in the traditional college/university manner – in a live classroom and interactively with the teachers and other students. How you learn and what is required for you to learn Six Sigma depends on many factors including your educational background, business proficiency, leadership skills, culture change skills, project management, team leadership, conflict negotiation, etc.

I reserve the right to add more pet peeves as I see fit. The views expressed in this column are entirely mine and not those of iSixSigma.

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