Six Sigma is a process improvement methodology
pioneered by Motorola (initiated by engineer
Bill Smith, known as the 'father of Six
Sigma'). It became prominent through the
success of General Electric, during the
tenure of CEO Jack Welch who was an advocate
for Six Sigma.
The methodology uses process improvement
methods, with an emphasis on statistics
to achieve a quality level of better than
defects per million opportunities.
Key elements are:
- the organizational structure, including
the roles of Champion. Master Black Belts,
Black Belts and Green Belts
- the DMAIC/DFSS structured problem solving
In its classical form, Six Sigma is a project
based approach, tackling projects that will
return $100,000+ savings and take several
months. Many companies now use an approach
that involves more, but smaller, projects,
and is less statistically intensive. These
are often led by Green Belts rather than
The Black Belt is the team leader
responsible for the operation and outcomes
of major Six Sigma projects. To achieve
Black Belt status it is necessary to demonstrate
mastery of the tools, through an examination
and completing a project in industry.
The important high level business
result that the Six Sigma project seeks
to improve. The 'Big Y' should be linked
to the critical customer requirements.
The Big Y is often used to
generate 'little y' operational objectives
that must be improved to achieve Big Y improvements.
The Big Y might be to reduce lead times,
the Little y could be the inventory performance
at the warehouse.
Senior managers who champion
the project, ensure that they are properly
resourced and obtain support in the organization.
A person who leads change
within an organization, by championing the
change, and managing and planning its implementation.
The role can be official or voluntary.