Six Sigma in Education

Six Sigma in Education

The marching trend of the new economic order has generated a new capsule of Six Sigma as a unified approach to process excellence. The tests reveal that it has transformed some of the most successful companies in the world, such as Motorola and GE. It is activated as an approach of aiming at a target by changing the culture of a company, involving everyone in the company, not just the quality leaders, Black Belts and Green Belts. The concept of Six Sigma is to identify the problem in a process, charter a project to specifically address the process, evaluate the process and work through the project in order to improve the process in totality. In the words of Jack Welch, past-Chairman of GE, Six Sigma is “The only program I’ve ever seen where customers win, employees are engaged in and satisfied by, shareholders are (rewarded), everybody who touches it wins.”

Six Sigma in Education Concept

In education, Six Sigma pertains to improving the quality of matter taught, the character generated of the pupils, and the quality of study and school life. With the revolutionary usage of audio-visual devices, like projectors, video conferencing, etc., the students can also be asked to write papers on a particular subject and after the presentation of papers, a discussion can take place on the respective subject. Under this method of imparting knowledge of literacy with quality, the thinking, writing and presentation skills of the students can be kindled. In addition, the existing method of quality improvement through SQCC (Students Quality Control Circles) have created the value based concept as a similie for the Six Sigma standards. It infuses a spike of excellence, emotional development, humaneness and self-discipline.

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Origins of Six Sigma

The concept of Six Sigma originated in the 1980s as Motorola, in response to the threat of its Japanese counterpart, got excited about the concept of zero defects. Further, the concept bloomed to Allied Signal and General Electric (GE), and as a result it became news in 1996 that GE had saved over $1 billion of cost by using the Six Sigma methodology. In academics it is still in infancy. It is dependent on the management gurus for implementation.

Target and Techniques of Six Sigma

Six Sigma raises customer satisfaction by reducing the number of defects from a process to 3.4 defects per million. The progress toward the target is measured by the sigma rating. In academics, it standardizes the enhancement of the result by percent increase.

Culture of Six Sigma

The culture of Six Sigma suggests a work environment and quality of work life where everyone in the company desires to achieve the Six Sigma target, to increase customer satisfaction, to increase efficiency, to lower costs and to improve profitability. This culture provides an important and continuing focus to management. The Six Sigma quality concept penetrates – applying to all processes within a company – whether a defect means an out-of-spec time coming off a production line, the amount of rework in a batch of a product, a document with a misprint or a late delivery time. The implementation in the educational arena requires the teachers to be considered employees, or the workforce in general. The customers tend to be the parents who pay the fees and want quality in return of the good result of their wards.

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Application of Six Sigma

The implementation or application of Six Sigma starts with the recognition of a problem, and the defining of a project to cure or alleviate that problem. The project is undertaken by a team using DMAIC, which stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control. These are defined further as:

DEFINE: This phase involves the definition of the project/assignment, using process maps, application area, desired improvement, likely benefits, etc. The importance lies in having the chance of a high successful delivery of better quality and saving costs in totality. In the context of academic strata, the failures include identifying and defining the problem. Projects may include real-life problems such as distractions in the classroom, for example.

MEASURE: This phase involves the analysis of the process to determine its present state and the future, as obtained. Data collection is the main emphasis of this phase.

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ANALYZE: This phase involves the data analysis for indentification of parts of process which affect the quality of the problem.

IMPROVE: This phase adds to the process to find a permanent solution to the problem. This may involve better forecasting, better scheduling, better procedures or equipment, specifying teaching techniques, work environment for the teachers and school campus quality life.

CONTROL: This phase involves the process of closing the problem by putting in the right procedures and management statistics.

Six Sigma Professionals

GREEN BELTS: These represent the Six Sigma practitioners, with a thorough grounding of the approach. The teachers and instructors of the students act as these designatures.

BLACK BELTS: These represent the Six Sigma experts with a thorough grounding in the approach, in addition to the ability to lead the projects (which is an additional skill over the Green Belts). A subgroup of the teachers and instructors act in this role.

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MASTER BLACK BELTS: These represent people who spend their time focused on Six Sigma, assist leadership for projection and consultation. The administration officer or the vice principal act in this role.

CHAMPIONS or LEADERS: They are the senior managers who ensure that resources are available for training and projects and also conduct reviews. The Principal acts in this role, in collaboration of the management or school board.

Decision-making will be as consensual as possible with all team members participating. The Black Belt will employ various techniques to ensure that this consensual nature is achieved 100 percent of the time. When the consensual method fails to achieve a decision, the project Champion will have sole decision-making authority.

Implementation of Six Sigma

With the outcome of the implementation of this methodology, researchers have found that successful deployment of Six Sigma involves focusing on a small number of high-leverage items. The following are the steps needed for the successful implementation of this concept:

  1. The successful improvement must start from the senior level of leadership. This is done by providing training of the principles and the tools needed for the purpose. Simultaneously, the steps are taken to “soft-wire” the organization and to cultivate an environment for innovation and creativity. The generation of quality improvement teams occurs at the level of principals and other members of the management.
  2. The module is developed for establising close communication with customers, employees and suppliers. This involves developing rigorous methods of obtaining and evaluating customer, employee and supplier input. The teachers act as the database for reporting and conduct of study.
  3. Training is assessed throughout the organization and is considered indespensible. Six Sigma education is provided to ensure that adequate levels of literacy and numeracy are processed by all employees/teachers.
  4. A standardized Six Sigma framework for continuous improvement is developed with a system of indicators for monitoring progress and success.
  5. The Six Sigma projects are conducted by individual employees and teams led by Green Belts and assisted by Black Belts.
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Research proves that firms that successfully implement Six Sigma perform better in virtually every business category, including return on sales, return on investment, employment growth and stock value growth. The strategy that has to be applied in today’s educational arena is a thoughtful concern on the part of the management to understand customer needs and strive to reduce defects throughout all educational processes.

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