Six Sigma is a business strategy developed in the 1980s at Motorola and systematically aims to improve the processes within a business or organization. It initially was developed to focus on reducing defects in the products produced but has evolved over the years and now includes improved product/service quality, customer satisfaction, and productivity. By adopting this stratagem, organizations can hope to achieve significantly larger output both quantitatively and qualitatively.
The key to success in six sigma involves multiple factors.
1. The DMAIC methodology/program is one of the key factors that often ensures a successful six sigma implementation. DMAIC refers to define, measure, analyze, improve and control. This step-by-step approach forms one of the core philosophies of six sigma which is to continuously lower defects in products/services and reduce variation in processes.
2. Another core philosophy of six sigma is providing optimum customer satisfaction. Six sigma theories believe that customer satisfaction is directly related to the defects in a product/service and the cost of operating it. Thus eliminating defects in products/services serves to improve customer satisfaction directly according to six sigma values.
3. Senior management needs to be mandatory involved in showing support to six sigma initiatives in person. They need to be involved directly in various six sigma activities such as:
- (a) Selecting a project that is manageable with existing resources
- This is important and requires the senior management since they will have a better idea about which process can be optimized using six sigma without facing adverse risks to the organization's future
- (b) Selecting appropriate teams to implement six sigma programs
- While selecting team members for six sigma programs it is usually the best if the member selected was previously associated with the operational field to be improved. This increases the probabilities for success in manifold terms
- (c) Approving and reviewing goals selected by team members
- (d) Resolving emergent conflicts in the implementation of six sigma goal
- Team members may constitute project managers previously involved in the process to be improved, black belt and green belt six sigma consultants. These may lead to differing views on how best to proceed with six sigma implementation. The senior management with their powerful position can step in to ameliorate such situations.
- (e) Rewarding team members by recognizing their services rendered
- Timely recognition and rewards to the project team are sure to motivate members to continue with the spirit of six sigma in their future activities in the organization leading to better success for the organization as a whole
4. Customizing six sigma programs in order for them to be aligned with an organization's broader policy and long-term goals. This will further improve efficiency in the implementation of the six sigma programs. In order to do this, organizations may hire a six sigma consultant to impart training to team members. The training must be flexible and time-bound to avoid producing inadequately trained members who will become a liability in deploying six sigma programs.
These factors listed above account for most of the major factors crucial to the success in deploying a six sigma program in an organization.
Harry, M. J. (1998). Six Sigma: a breakthrough strategy for profitability. Quality progress, 31(5),60.
Antony, J., & Banuelas, R. (2002). Key ingredients for the effective implementation of Six Sigma program. Measuring business excellence, 6(4), 20-27.