Paula Parmeter, a Six Sigma advocate and pioneer, recently passed away. Everyone that knew Paula is tremendously saddened. Below is a tribute, written by Ilona Kirzhner.


    iSixSigma has been nice enough to allow us to pay a Six Sigma Tribute to Paula (Feldman) Parmeter.

In my knowledge of Six Sigma consultancies, practitioners, trainers, and leaders, there are few who have managed to make a substantive contribution to the field. I am quite saddened to inform you that one of those contributors has passed away.Paula died on December 29, 2006 at her home in Thatcher, Arizona. She will be incredibly and deeply missed not only by her family and friends, but by her business colleagues, peers, and most notably, her clients. Although she is not with us any more, her contributions to streamlining the process by which an organization creates a sustainable Six Sigma Deployment, called Initialization, are truly important and unique.

In order to understand Paula’s contributions, one must understand the origins of the Initialization process. During the AlliedSignal rollout in 1994, ProSupport Inc. was retained to handle all of the logistics and coordination of their Six Sigma deployment. Initially, the task at hand was not fully understood. A Six Sigma 1-800 help line was established and communicated to all the members of the Six Sigma community. Instructions were clear; call with ANY questions. As you might expect, the phones rang off the hook. Black Belts called with questions about how to track savings. Finance reps called with questions about how to calculate hard versus soft savings. Champions called with questions about project selection and tracking guidelines. HR called with questions about Black Belt compensation. IT reps called with questions about Minitab, and so on. All of the questions were accumulated, categorized by function, and were slowly used to facilitate Allied through developing the necessary answers. Eventually, a manual process was created through which key functional business leaders of any organization, called the core team, would come together BEFORE the first belt was trained to understand the questions and customize the answers to meet the needs of their unique business. This process was called Initialization and was (and still is) the first and most important step to any scalable Six Sigma deployment. The core team’s output from an Initialization process was the Six Sigma Handbook, or the one stop shop of all Six Sigma governance related procedures, policies and guidelines. Unfortunately, this process took three to six months to implement and required tedious manual revision control and communication of the latest governance documents.

Paula’s contribution was to bring the dated highly manual Initialization process and the corresponding handbook into the 21st century. Paula not only revolutionized the entire Initialization process, but she also incorporated the ability for a core team to customize, apply revision control, and deliver the handbook completely and totally on an organization’s intranet at an extraordinary pace. Information on a Six Sigma deployment and its supporting infrastructure would no longer be only available to individuals within Six Sigma circles. Instead, it could be partially or entirely added to an organization’s internal and external website readily communicating its Six Sigma program and progress through Paula’s all new eHandbook. She took a three to six month process down to a four day facilitated workshop. She took several 3-inch binders full of templates and best practices down to an organized, updated, rev-controlled, and highly efficient library of customizable documents, all available online through the corporate intranet.

Subsequently, Paula, single-handedly led dozens of organizations and core teams through the modernized Initialization process, including Tamko, Standard Register, Siemens, and countless others. To this day, I would estimate there are fewer than ten individuals in the world that have led such Six Sigma infrastructure building events completely on their own. Her facilitation workshops created the best Six Sigma governance systems out there. If you happen to have been fortunate enough to know Paula, this would come as no surprise. Because she performed her job, as she lived her life, with incredible integrity, commitment, passion, and strength. She touched many lives, both professionally and personally, and we will all miss her dearly.

I welcome anyone who knew Paula to say a few words regarding your knowledge of her contribution to six sigma and to your particular organization.


Ilona Kirzhner
Cofounder and Former COO of Breakthrough Management Group Inc.
Paula’s Friend, Peer, Colleague, and Former Employer

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