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6 Sigma A False God At Motorola, Quality Progress

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  • #31710

    Constance Manners
    Participant

    How many other Six Sigma professionals read the March 2003 edition of Quality Progress? If you are like me most months, you skip over the email/letters to the editor. Last night, I skimmed them while relaxing and ran across a letter from Bob Paddock (page 8) entitled “Six Sigma Is a False God At Motorola.” I was shocked at the ignorance of the author, but *appalled* at the fact that ASQ would publish and perpetuate such an ignorant viewpoint. Here is the quote:

    “Years ago when six Sigma was a new thing, Motorola was getting awards for having just achieved Six Sigma.
    “At the same time, my company received thousands of Motorola transistors that were mismarked. The cases said they contained 2N2222A transistors when they really contained 2N2907As. This error cost us, not Motorola, tens of thousands of dollars in lost production.
    “The fact Motorola could claim to have Six Sigma while shipping thousands of defective parts pretty much set my mind on what Six Sigma would forever mean. Six Sigma means we can still ship junk and get awards for doing it!”
    ‘What an idiotic thing to say,’ ran though my mind. What if Motorola had been a ISO certified company or a Baldrige Award winner (which I think they may be both!), why wouldn’t the author say “…pretty much set my mind on what ISO/Baldrige would forever mean.” The fact is that there is an error associated with this mis-shipment; potentially one person selected the wrong transistors to place in the box labeled 2N2222A. There is no doubt that a defect occurred in their process. Does it mean that they’re not a Six Sigma company? No. Does it mean that they made a mistake? Definitely. Six Sigma can help find and eliminate the root cause of this defect.
    As an aside, being a Six Sigma company does not necessarily mean that they meet the statistical definition of 3.4 defects per million opportunities for EVERY process of their business. It does mean that the company espouses to strive for near perfect processes in every case. In some cases, it may mean that they measure and meet Six Sigma (or above) standards. In other cases, the company may understand that the customer is not willing to pay for a Six Sigma process capability. Anyone who truly understands Six Sigma and broader concept of business finance understands this point.
    Also, in my world (i.e. reality) companies that make a mistake to a customer make it right or lose business. When the author writes “Six Sigma means we can still ship junk and get awards for doing it!” — the author is just being plain ridiculous (and again, I voice my disgust with ASQ editors for selecting and printing this letter of ignorance). If you order a product and a company ships you the wrong product you have options. One option is to take the wrong product and live with it. Another option is to voice your issue to the company and ask for immediate resolution. And yet another option is to complain to everyone you know (including the Better Business Bureau) about why the product didn’t meet your standards and how the company didn’t correct the issue —  and you can tell others not to use the company’s products. Now back on planet Earth, we know that Motorola is an upstanding company (albeit one that sometimes makes mistakes). I have no doubt that if they knew a wrong product was shipped they would do everything in their power to right the situation.
    “This error cost us, not Motorola, tens of thousands of dollars in lost production.” The fact is that you, your receiving department, your processes, and your inability to find a expeditious resolution with your supplier cost your business tens of thousands of dollars in lost production (and even that number is questionable based on the ignorance of the letter).
    Constance Manners

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    #83813

    Leung
    Participant

    Constance,
    I read your post and then immediately pulled out my copy of Quality Progress. I agree with you whole heartedly. I find it funny that they would print such a thing, they’re usually very good.
    Ben

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    #83814

    Jim Winings
    Participant

    Geeze, I think know Bob Paddock. I think he worked at Motorola. Must be another happy ex-Motorola person.
    >”Years ago when six Sigma was a new thing, Motorola was getting awards for having just achieved Six Sigma.
    Some at the time said Motorola purchased the 1st MALCOLM BALDRIGE quality award.
    I’ve seen the Semiconductor Conductor Product Group do some silly things, but when I ordered transistors from them for qualifications, they never had any mismarked and they always sent the correct ones. Of course I wasn’t going through the normal channels an outside company would have gone through. We had a Semiconductor Conductor Product Group sales office inside of Motorola because we purchased so many of them.
    Did he say when it was? Did he say if they were actually the wrong transistor or just mismarked?
     

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    #83815

    Constance Manners
    Participant

    Jim,
    The only data I have is from his original letter, which was included in it’s entirety in my original post.
    I wanted to highlight three points in my post:

    Ignorance in itself is not bad. Ignorance is just not knowing anything about a topic.
    Broadcasting one’s ignorance and claiming that something is bad when you don’t fully understand it is wrong.
    Highlighting ignorant viewpoints in a magazine that is supposed to be promoting the quality movement/tools/data/reasoning/leadership is unacceptable.
    Constance

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    #83816

    Jim Winings
    Participant

    >Ignorance in itself is not bad. Ignorance is just not knowing anything about a topic
    Can’t argue with that.
    >Broadcasting one’s ignorance and claiming that something is bad when you don’t fully understand it is wrong.
    But isn’t that a catch 22? How does one knows ones ignorance to any given topic if one doesn’t understand that topic because they are ignorance to it?
    >Highlighting ignorant viewpoints in a magazine that is supposed to be promoting the quality movement/tools/data/reasoning/leadership is unacceptable.
     
    Can’t argue with that either.
     
    Your missing one I deal with all the time with computer users. One knows just enough to be dangerous! (GRIN)
     

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    #83827

    ASQ is a total embarrassment
    Participant

    knowledge in quality is at amateur level at the best. The real good onesdo not submit their papers to ASQ. Various ASQ certification testsare jokes including the newly added test on 6-Sigma. In my previous company, a bunch of lousy quality engineers were running reviewcourses for the CRE (certified reliability engineer). Those people have never done a decent project in quality or reliability improvement. What makes them think they certifiy reliability professionals?  When I see people have CRE on their business card, I can help but laughing. CRE adds no evidence to your professional credibility —it might be an evidence that you do not how low level CRE is.

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    #83836

    Helen
    Participant

    Your posting really demonstrates your ignorance as to what ASQ is all about.  ASQ certifications are only supposed to demonstrate an acquired level of knowledge has been achieved and is recognition based strictly on this alone.  To your point on applicability of quality principles, the Six Sigma Certification exam requires executive sponsorship (a signature) and affadavit in order to take the exam, so some level of proficiency is required.
     
    Let me pose these questions to you…
    Are you a member or were you a member of ASQ?
    Have you ever taken the ASQ CSSBB exam?
    If not, then you have no credibility either.

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    #83844

    Sridhar
    Member

    i tend to agree with the original post in this thread. the problem lies in the variation associated with ASQ (no pun intended). some chapters are excellent, while others flounder. some articles in quality progress are helpful, while others are a waste of time. the article highlighted in this thread should not have been published (i totally agree), although others are very useful.
    how can ASQ become an organization with higher standards? i feel funny even asking this type of question, but where else can we discuss this? i don’t believe ASQ has ever asked me for my opinion, and yes, i am a member. what continuous improvement standards does ASQ follow in the performance of their daily duties and processes?
    S.V.

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    #83845

    jediblackbelt
    Participant

    Can somebody say “disgruntled”.  You can say that every organization and every profession has its own set of “turds”.  That should come as no big shock to anybody.  As far as articles keep in mind most articles are written by academia professionals or consultants.  There are a lot of great articles put out there that are probably over the heads of a majority of shopfloor blackbelts.  Does that mean they have no merit?  I think not.  However you and I and those of us that run the floor and save money still should have an idea and a link to the academia world. 
    As far as the accredidation for the ASQ.  Have you taken the test and passed it for the CSSBB?  If not then how can you say that it does not warrant any merit?  Is this not just an opinion and I think we all know about opinions and that everyone has one.  I would put my projects and savings up against anyone out there.  Not bragging but the tools and how you apply them are what is important and not being certified.  So do I think I need a certification, no, but does the employers of future blackbelts and managers?  Most of them say yes.  With the market for BBs getting saturated with so many low key and quickie programs why not have a certification board that at least can help show that you have some knowledge and that somebody else can vouch that you applied the tools.

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    #83848

    Jamie
    Participant

    Let’s think about this from the customers eyes. I want customer sigma  sigma level, not process or product, I don’t care about this opportunity stuff. Meaning for each “thing” you try to do for me I want it done right. Now if you tell me you are Six-Sigma then as a customer I should only experience 3.4 failures per million “things you do or provide me”. In other words I’m led to believe that out of 1 millions services or products I expect it to be right 99.9997% of the time. Or at least that’s what I hear your advertising say (remember I trying to think like the customer). What else does a customer want, but to know how often you will produce a good product?
    So lets put this in perspective to a real example I’ve got (this is my true example). I bought 2 GE products (fairly close to top of the line) for my new house. A stove and hanging microwave. Now both of these quit working the first year I had them (it wasn’t an installation problem, the servicemen both confirmed that it was the product). I think its reasonable for a customer to expect that these products should work at least a year (of all the stoves and microwaves I owned that weren’t GE they all lasted much longer, actually I don’t think I ever had a non GE stove or micro wave break). If this is a reasonable expectation from a customer then I consider this to be 2 failures. What are the chances I’m 2 of the 3 failures that were going to happen out of a million? This coming from a company taughts six-sigma (again I’m thinking solely from a customers perspective).
    Now please don’t tell me I don’t understand what sigma level is, I’m not trying to explain sigma level here. I’m trying to explain what I think the average person hears from companies that make claims about six sigma.
    I think that the average person (that has heard something about six sigma) hears that a six sigma company should rarely if ever produce a bad product (if thats not what Six Sigma is about then what is it about?). So when a six sigma company doesn’t live up to these expectations it can “leave a bad taste in a consumers mouth”.
    My conclusion is that Six Sigma companies need to be very responsbile about how they market their six sigma efforts.
    Jamie
     

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    #83849

    Jamie
    Participant

    My apologies, this post doesn’t make sense where it falls in the thread. Move it up several notches then it might make more sense. Its more a reply to the orignal post.

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    #83900

    William Trumble
    Member

    Constance,
    I agree with your viewpoint. Thanks for sharing this tidbit.
    Will

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    #83903

    Rajesh Naik
    Participant

    Taking following two sentences from the original post….
    “In other cases, the company may understand that the customer is not willing to pay for a Six Sigma process capability. Anyone who truly understands Six Sigma and broader concept of business finance understands this point.”
    Are we trying to conclude that Achieving Six Sigma Quality is ADDITIONAL cost to organization and Customers are supposed pay for that cost. I don’t think even Motorola (or any other company that has adopted Six Sigma) would agree to this.
    I thought Six Sigma (or for that matter any quality related initiative) adds to PROFITS and not COST. This is a new LEARNING.
    Rajesh

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    #83907

    Luis
    Participant

    Rajesh,
    Do you think that achieving Six Sigma in every situation of a business adds to profits and not to cost? I believe that you are mistaken.
    There are many cases where achieving 3.4 defects per million opportunities would have an associated cost that is higher than customers are willing to pay.
    Why do you think that airplane flights have a process sigma of over 6 when it comes to safety, but less than 3 when it comes to receiving your luggage at your destination?
    Luis

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    #83919

    Mikel
    Member

    Luis,
    Nice theory but that is all that it is.
    If you don’t think the airlines would save money by straightening out baggage handling – you have never looked a t the goat roping processes around them.

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    #83924

    Luis
    Participant

    Stan,
    Perhaps a poor example.
    Let me ask you this question: do you think that every company should increase every one of their processes to six sigma levels and that it will be cost effective for them to do so?
    Luis

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    #83927

    Mikel
    Member

    Luis,
    I think if every company took a strategy of always looking for their next best improvement project and put a team, a schedule, and support behind them – they would eventually learn their way toward Six Sigma. It may take them 20 years, but these are not sprints, they are marathons.

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    #83928

    Luis
    Participant

    Stan,
    I don’t disagree with your last statement, but you didn’t answer my question.
    Do you think that every company should increase every one of their processes to six sigma levels and that it will be cost effective for them to do so?
    Luis

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    #83930

    Mikel
    Member

    Eventually, taking the next logical step every time. The focus of project work should be at least a 50% reduction of the existing condition toward entitlement.

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    #88237

    Redmond
    Participant

    The problem with your comment is that it begs the question: What were you doing to improve the reliability engineering skills of your organization?  These people were volunteering their time to try to help spread what they knew.  If you were better qualified, why were you not the one teaching? 
    total embarassment said: “In my previous company, a bunch of lousy quality engineers were running review courses for the CRE (certified reliability engineer). Those people have never done a decent project in quality or reliability improvement. What makes them think they certifiy reliability professionals?”
     

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