Six Sigma . . . Still Growing After All These Years

I recently spoke at a Lean Six Sigma Conference for Services hosted by the American Strategic Management Institute (ASMI). One of the morning speakers started her presentation by taking a quick survey. She went around the room and asked everyone three questions . . . What industry are you from? How long has your company been involved in Lean Six Sigma? What is your personal level of Lean Six Sigma knowledge? She charted each person’s answer as they spoke. Although it took a few moments to work through the crowd of about fifty plus people, it was a marvelous way to demonstrate the value and power of Voice of the Customer and here’s why.

  • The activity engaged everyone in the audience. They were now “part” of something – not just a “spectator.”
  • The information helped each delegate with their own networking activities. Immediately following the session you could see people from like industries converging and trading business cards. You could also see some of the ‘newbies’ seek out the more experienced delegates.
  • And as a subsequent speaker I could now customize my approach to more closely fit the customer’s profile – speaking in terms that helped me better connect with the audience/customer.

I was also pleasantly surprised by the number of companies that were just starting their Lean Six Sigma journey. For me, this was just another affirmation of its staying power. After all these years, Lean Six Sigma continues to be the method of choice for driving excellence throughout the business world, no matter what type of business – from health-care to soft-ware to house-ware – Lean Six Sigma is making a difference every-where.

Comments 5

  1. lep

    Not a claim just a devil advocate’s question :)

    Is Lean Six Sigma just here to give a second life to Six Sigma after being debunked by Quality Founders
    spc founders against six sigma

    like Quality Circles and MBO have been in the past ? (Deming’s Critics of Management by Objectives (MBO) and Quality Circles)

  2. Gianna

    I think the staying power of Six Sigma is rooted in the fact that over the years it has reshaped itself to meet the changing needs of customers. By integrating Lean tool sets, workout, kaizen, DFSS, etc., Six Sigma today can be defined as an improvement methodology that helps you achieve near perfect performance.

    Describing it as “3.4 DPMO” or “reducing variation” is sort of like describing a car as a Ford model-T. Yeah, it’s still a car but nothing like what we drive today. Some people may look at this reshaping of Six Sigma as hype or marketing. I look at it as continuously improving continuous improvement.

  3. JConsidine

    I wonder what Juran would think of the fact that the institute bearing his name is offering Lean Six Sigma Black Belt training at $12,000 per seat?

  4. John Reiling

    I am relatively new to Six Sigma (although I have heard about it for years), but I see similar comments in other communities. I think the fact is that there are benefits from structured approaches – no matter what it is for. Structure can be used and abused, and can many times be a smokescreen for really just getting into action and trying to solve the problem.
    John Reiling, PMP
    Project Management Training Online
    Lean Six Sigma Training Online

  5. cheezer

    Mr. Considine beat me to it, but Dr. Juran’s name has become synonymous with "six sigma" today. Funny to read his quotes.

    Also, the article linked was quite a farce. How many of you were taught only the normal distribution in your six sigma training? Sure, we were all taught to look for normality, but we were also taught to use poisson, exponential, logarithmic, etc. etc. distributions for our data when necessary.

    The folks at should be ashamed of themselves. If you’re not willing to do the research work necessary to write an informed article you shouldn’t be wasting your time (and your readers).

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