How the Six Sigma Quality Improvement Process Practically Eliminated False Fire Alarms at US West

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In the early 1990s, US West was an organization that was leading the charge in telecommunications. At the time, their buildings were being plagued by disruptive false fire alarms. How it was dealt with is a great example of how to apply the Six Sigma quality improvement process, a method applicable to nearly any quality […]

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Littelfuse’s Journey to Operational Excellence: How Six Sigma Processes Improved Quality and Reduced Costs

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Littelfuse is a manufacturing company that produces electronic products for various industries. The company was facing a problem with its production process, as it was experiencing a high defect rate that was causing delays and increasing costs. Products were experiencing defects and failures, which resulted in customer complaints, rework, and repairs. These quality issues were […]

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How DMAIC and Other Six Sigma Techniques and Tools Helped B & B Ice and Water Save $21,000 on Their First Six Sigma Project

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B & B Ice and Water in Port Arthur, Texas, had been a successful company for many years. Despite their success, the organization was finding a number of problems that they could not seem to solve. By embracing Six Sigma techniques, the organization was able to address these issues, make its company stronger than before, […]

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How Utilizing the Full Six Sigma Process Helped Turn Wipro Into a Global IT Leader

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In the 1980s, Wipro made the leap from being primarily known as a vegetable oil company in India into the world of IT. In order to be a competitor in this industry on a global scale, Wipro would need to continually improve its performance as well as work smarter towards meeting the needs of its […]

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How ZARA Revolutionized the Fashion Industry with Lean Practices

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ZARA changes its clothing designs every two weeks on average, offering upwards of 11,000 distinct garments every year. In comparison, competitors change their designs every three or four months and product 3-4,000 distinct pieces. This is fast fashion: the business model of replicating high-fashion, luxury-brand pieces quickly and cheaply, making them available to customers while […]

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DMAIC Helped Coca-Cola Revamp Call Centers and Improve Sales 

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In 1985, Coca-Cola embarked on what has since been viewed as one of the worst marketing blunders in history. The customer response as well as how Coca-Cola decided to reformat how it dealt with customers, informed how the beverage company would modify its processes for decades to come. When Coca-Cola discontinued its original formula and […]

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How Total Quality Management Got Xerox Back on Track

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Xerox went from being an industry leader to resting on its laurels. Their focus shifted away from improvement for the benefit of their customers. This, coupled with a financial scandal, brought the organization to the point where many financial experts believed that bankruptcy was on the horizon. A major shift in how Xerox did business […]

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Understanding Six Sigma: Definition, Benefits, and Best Practices

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Six Sigma has been defined in three ways: as a metric, a methodology, and a philosophy. Sigma can be defined as the standard deviation of a set of continuous data, so Six Sigma would then be six standard deviations.

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Step-by-Step Guide to Project Selection

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The purpose of Lean Six Sigma is to identify opportunities for improving organizational processes. One of the challenges is the selection of projects for improvement teams to work on. Let’s learn more about how to select impactful projects. Both Lean and Six Sigma projects are used to improve organizational processes. Improvement teams are formed. DMAIC […]

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Ask Dr. Mikel Harry: How Can Six Sigma Be Applied to Human Resources?

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Dr. Mikel Harry answers the question, “How can Six Sigma be applied to the Human Resources (HR) function?” Listed are some simple examples for Human Resource projects: 1) Employee turnover rate. 2) Job satisfaction issues (surveys). 3) Management satisfaction. 4) Cafeteria food quality. 5) Policy deployment. 6) New hire process quality and cycle time. 7) […]

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If a process is broken (low process capability), should it be a DMAIC or Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) project?

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Is the process broken because of poor process control?  Is it broken because of inferior technology?  Is is broken because of inadequate operational knowledge?  Is is broken because  of a mismatch between the process technology and the design specifications?  Is is broken because of some interaction thereof?  How can you expect anyone to rationally answer […]

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What do you see as the evolution of Six Sigma? What is the future and what are the implications for corporations worldwide?

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It is widely known (in the field of quality management) that Motorola inaugurated Six Sigma in the mid eighties.  At that time, Six Sigma was employed to make a dramatic gain in customer satisfaction (by way of quality improvement).  Almost by nature, the initiative was based on the idea of defect reduction.  For the sake […]

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What are your thoughts on the different types of bottom line benefits of Six Sigma?

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The first generation of Six Sigma (1984 – 1994) was initiated at Motorola.  At this time, Six Sigma was primarily focused on the reduction of defects (quality improvements).  It was widely believed that the reduction of defects would naturally and invariably offer certain economic benefits – even though such benefit could not often be directly […]

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How Can Six Sigma can be made part of ISO 9000 system implementation?

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Rhetorically speaking, what is the purpose of ISO9000?  Is it a standard of expectation, much like Six Sigma?  If an organization is currently performing to a Six Sigma level, would there even be a need for this standard?  If this standard was perfectly deployed and implemented in a corporation, would it be a Six Sigma […]

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How are the Six Sigma methods (DMAIC, DFSS, etc.) applicable to software development and services industries?

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Obviously, you know how to ask a “huge” question.  In terms of scope and depth, it is nearly equivalent to the question: “How does one go about boiling the ocean without harming the ecosystem – give me some examples (case studies), tell me the best tools to use, how to use the tools, and kindly […]

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How do I ensure selection of the right type of high impact projects? Any tips on project selection methods and criteria?

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Having “been there and done that,” I deeply appreciate your question.  A simple literature search will yield a lot on this subject.  However, you should first read the Rath and Strong book on Six Sigma.  I highly recommend this particular reading, especially for “middle management level” guidance.  This book provides a number of relevant templates […]

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Has Six Sigma lost it's way and is it on its way becoming another fad?

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The simpliest form of an answer to each of your questions is “yes.”  There does exist an ever-present danger that Six Sigma will become diluted.  In fact, there are many signs that it has already happened.  For example, many business executives now see Six Sigma as a commodity.  So what is driving a lot of […]

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How can Six Sigma be integrated with ISO?

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Imagine working for a corporation that is operating at an overall quality level of about Six Sigma.  In terms of capability, this means that the company would be about 1,800 times better than the average organization (about Four Sigma).  So, what would such a difference be like?  If it existed, what would not need to […]

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Where did the name "Six Sigma" come from?

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In my recollection, two recurring questions have dominated the field of six sigma.  The first inquiry can be described by the global question: “Why 6s and not some other level of capability?”  The second inquiry is more molecular.  It can be summarized by the question: “Where does the 1.5s shift factor come from – and […]

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A good number of management systems are available in addition to Six Sigma. Can a company survive with only one?

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Today, very few corporate executives believe that TQM is a viable system of business management.  To this point, a 1996 study titled “Measuring Performance After Meeting Award Criteria” was published in Quality Progress magazine.  The conclusions were quite apparent – the impact of TQM practices may not be nearly as significant as some think.  After […]

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How significant is benchmarking in an overall Six Sigma approach?

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I assume that you are referring to the “quantitative” variety.  In this regard, I believe that benchmarking is a highly valuable activity.  For example, consider the “sigma-tizing” of a business.  Let us suppose a certain corporation discovers that it is a 3.5 sigma business.  Now suppose that the same company finds one of its competitors […]

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What are the merits and demerits of integrating Six Sigma with Theory Of Constraints, benchmarking and Lean technologies?

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The attempted integration of Six Sigma with other technologies is quite natural, although often unsuccessful.  Perhaps it is only instinctive that people try to blend the benefits of several different approaches into a single entity (per se).  After all, such a thing is seemingly quite rational.  More to the point, it is often believed that […]

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Is there a generalized form of Six Sigma that can be applied to every organization that wants to improve their process quality?

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A central aspect of six sigma is an eight-step approach for achieving dramatic improvement at different levels of the business.  The process is given by the acronym RDMAICSI – Recognize, Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control, Standardize, and Integrate.  As a short cut, many just apply DMAIC. At a top management level, it functions as a […]

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