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Topic Six Sigma Philosophy

Six Sigma Philosophy

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This topic contains 11 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Whitehurst 16 years, 7 months ago.

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    I am still trying to determine why Six Sigma is a philosophy for many of you.  My aim here is to determine what principles guide the Six Sigma program.  I would think that by the many folks who visit here in doing research for the various papers they are writing and with the many more folks providing guidance that we should be able to answer this question.  Anyone have any thoughts?


    I am still trying to determine why Six Sigma is a philosophy for many of you.  Kevin
    Hi Kevin,
    First of all, I can only answer for myself.
    Secondly, I don’t consider 6s a philosophy. It is a set of tools used for solving tough problems and continuous improvement.
    Thirdly, 6s represents an evolution from TQM. It incorporates the tools from TQM, plus stresses the need for management support, project management to assure projects get done and financial accountability to make sure the right things get worked on.
    Fourthly, it is, I believe, rapidly becoming the way of doing business, especially in the North American automotive industry. One may like that or one may not. One may choose to get on the 6s train or one may choose to be left behind on the platform, clutching one’s TQM baggage or one’s Deming baggage or whatever baggage one has, as it pulls out of the station.
    Marc Richardson
    Sr. Quality Assurance Engineer


    Thank you for responding.  I would agree with you that Six Sigma is more than likely, a tool, and not a philosophy.  However, I wish to continue to explore the possibility that Six Sigma is a philosophy as recognized through generally accepted rules and boundaries.
    I found it interesting that you consider two generally accepted philosophies as ‘baggage’.  Are you saying that these philosophies are nolonger useful, past paradigms if you will (being left behind on the platform)?  While there are similarities between the tools found in Six Sigma and TQM, perhaps you could explain why you think it has taken the place of TQM.


     Hi Kevin,
    I didn’t intend to imply that TQM and Deming were excess baggage. On the contrary, my primary orientation is through the Deming model of SOPK. All improvement strategies go back to his Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle. I merely meant that if a person is so committed to a particular methodology that they can’t incorporate the best from the continued evolution of these systems, they will miss the train. Not that that is a bad thing, it just means one is not on it.
     Marc Richardson
    Sr. Quality Assurance Engineer


    If you wish to see the basic underlying roots to Six Sigma you need to read Juran’s “Managerial Breakthrough” written in 1964. It will be as close as you will get to a true philosophy as you will get to SS. There are a lot of companies which have done a lot of things around it and a lot of people who have called it a lot of things. The tools are not Six Sigma either. The flow of the methodology is what is Six Sigma. Previously most were a collection of tools used as anyone saw fit. Six Sigma did not and never intended to introduce new tools. It structured the tools into problem solving methodology. If you think of it in terms of Lean it is just Standardized Work. The structure increses the probability of solution in the fact that it helps you define the next logical step in the analysis.
    Let’s use an example. Control Charts have been around before TQM but for some reason the TQM guys get to claim them. Frequently they are placed on process variables without necessarily having a structure to determine which process variable you choose. SS introduces Control Charts at the Control Phase. It is only then that you have done the analysis to understand where the leverage variables lie and who wants to control chart a non leverage variable.
    SS did not sping from TQM. It came from a lot of places. The group that was predominate in the deployments at Allied Signal and GE were primarily Motorolan’s but they were primarily from Motorola Government Electronics Group in Scottsdale. There were also several TI guys early on that worked with the Motorola people on DFSS Tom Cheek at Statistical Design Institute). I already did this story in the discussion forum question on integrating Lean and SS.
    One does not replace the other. They compliment each other just as does ISO, QS, Lean, Activity Based Costing, and a lot of other initiatives.
    The real bottom line is improvement. The people such as Galvin, Bossidy and Welch realy do not care if it is TQM’ed, Lean’ed, or SS’ed. They want results and that is how we sold it and proved to them we had substance to deliver.


    Hello,A very interesting discussion is in progress and i could not resist putting my two penny bit in. This comes from a recent very conscious effort to explain to a client recently about the difference between TQM and Six Sigma.I look at this a different way – TQM is the mother philosophy: a way of life that outlines general concepts that are elegant and in breathtaking in their simplicity. And what is even more fascinating these concepts deliver phenomena results. These can be practiced at ALL levels of the organisation. TQM also has techniques for the more sophisticated practitioners.Six Sigma is an approach (distinguished from a way of life) that has the concepts detailed out in techniques, some more sophisticated than others but needing specialists to practice most of them.
    It is more explicitly result oriented, individualistic in orientation. TQM is on the other hand is much more meant for ALL and team orientation.Just to give a example of Concept and equivalent techniques –
    Seven Steps of Problem solving applied in Six Sigma is DMAIC for production problems ans DMADC for design problems. I recently did a project using the former and the case was published happily with the editors introducing six sigma terms for the methods used!!TQM gives the practiotioner the freedom to apply a concept and almost grow up into greater and greater sophistication if required while SS trains champions into a whole lot of techniques from the outset which they are expected to use.Niraj


    The discussion between Marc and Kevin was interesting so I chose to comment on the idea of SS coming from TQM, which it did not.
    Believing TQM was the mother of it all is also just about as bizarre. Agriculture gave rise to the many different experimental techniques, Shewhart gave us Control Charts, etc. We didn’t even have a relavant issue around quality until the Industrial Revolution developed interchangable parts. There were some random events in the US and France in the 1800’s around interchangeable parts in the armament business. It was mass production that drove interchangeable parts and interchangeable parts drove the need for the quality tools as we know them today.
    Six Sigma was really enabled by software. Programs such as Minitab have really taken the fear of using sophisticated statistical tools away. There is nothing very complicated about the SS program as long as you have a computer and a decent software package. The reason it seems complicated is because some consulting firms have chosen to make it that way. Wrap it in mystery and make it look like you have to be a member of Mensa to pull it off. We have been training people without college degrees, technical backgrounds, etc. since the first wave of Allied Signal and they have been doing quite well.
    The real bottom line is that feeling like one had to give birth to another or one is more sophisticated or whatever is basically a inane discussion. The original question was about philosophy which SS in it’s most basic form is not a philosophy.If we really believe in the idea of customer satisfaction/success and customer focus, then we can go to our customers such as a Galvin, Bossidy, Welch, etc and you will find it is not a CTQ for them which one came first, which one you used, which one is more sophisticated, etc. They pay for one thing – results.


    Thank you for all of your well thought out responses.  They provoked good thought and discussion.
    I agree with Mike that it really isn’t important which quality technique came first.  All programs deserve some merit regardless of our individual beliefs about the whole.  I agree with Niraj that TQM is a more holistic approach and the practice stems from generally accepted tenets where as Six Sigma is a specific application without, to my knowledge, such tenets.  Mike’s comments on the historical references of the Six Sigma program have been the most detailed that I have seen thus far corroborating my belief that the Six Sigma program is a results-oriented tool.  In addition, his comments regarding the use of Control Charts and the rise of quality through the 19th and 20th centuries reminded me of something Peter Drucker wrote in his book, “Management Challenges for the 21st Century.”
    Peter suggests that if we were to closely study the works of Fredrick Taylor, we would find that very little new has been done during the past 80 years with one notable exception.  It is important to note here that despite the label of “Taylorism” used to denote the “dumbing down of the work force” and command control (2nd Generation Management), Taylor’s principles were true of the time and greatly bastardized over that period.  A closer examination will show you that Taylor did not believe in dumbing down anyone, and in fact, writes about the improvement of a workforce.  We tend to overlook this point.
    The one notable exception Peter Drucker speaks about in his book is directly connected to Mike’s comments on Statistical techniques.  Drucker said that until Dr. Deming applied Statistics to Management Theory, nothing of significance before or after has come close to having the same impact.  As most of you know, Dr. Deming worked very closely with Dr. Shewhart in the development of these Statistical Techniques and largely credits Dr. Shewhart for the development of this theory.  Statistics is not a new principle.  It was developed long ago to sort out a gamblers intuition on rolling dice.
    Until someone sits down and thinks about what the guiding principles of Six Sigma are, it will exist for me as ‘methodology’ or tool (I’m still not sure if anyone a Motorola or Dr. Harry have done so much already).  But it shouldn’t matter that much: mostly semantics at play.
    Back to the group…


    Sounds like we are thinking along the same lines!!


    Not to read too much into your words, but they hint at the biggest hurdle that we face in our company’s 6 Sigma implementation. Our first wave of Black Belts are “tool obsessed”, to the extent that they appear not to espouse any consistent methodology (to their madness). 6 Sigma is most importantly a methodology for identifying and eliminating variances. As many have reflected, most of the tools are common to prior quality initiatives. What should differ 6 Sigma from its predessors is 1) results that are tied strictly to the bottom line, contrasted with “Quality for the sake of quality” and 2) tool usage guided by a consistent methodology (such as DMAIC) and linked by the data that those tools produce.Regards,


    I understand your point about being tool-obsessed at the expense of the over plan. That is why I am collecting tools and integrating them into a project management template which considers the steps, checklists, financial metrics, deliverables, action items and status tracking as well as the tools required to complete the DMAIC phase and the project as a whole.
    Marc Richardson
    Sr. Quality Assurance Engineer


    Marc,That certainly is an admirable pursuit. However, I’ve noticed that these types of well intentioned exercises easily draw the most responses on this site. Having read them, it seems that everyone responding is looking for the “fast answer”, in my mind promoting the idea of tools for the sake of tools (i.e. show me the path from step 1 to …). I’m hoping that my perspective is biased based on my own experiences.I’m currently a 6 Sigma champion overseeing a Black Belt candidate on his first project. By far the most productive and stimulating dialogues occur when we discuss either the intent of our project (METHODOLOGY) or the data that well selected tools yield. As I’ve suggested before, we get bogged down when my Black Belt begins to fire tools from the hip, seemingly without justification for the same.I rant. Good luck on your project. Like others, I’m interested to see how it turns out. I’m in the process of developing a similar flow chart, using tools that have been specialized to division, industry and purpose.

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