In this Six Sigma Overview, we'll explain what all the hype is about, and why this methodology has taken hold worldwide. The methodology is considered to be primarily a business management strategy that is focused upon improving business processes by the minimization and/or elimination of variation and defects (we like using the term errors instead of defects).
This focus begins with understanding that everything that occurs in a company can be considered a process, and as such, can be monitored, measured, and controlled in some fashion. The in-depth study of processes is what contributes to the reduction in variation and to increased profitibility. Simply stated, as variation and errors are reduced, profits increase.
The methodology has its roots in the statistical concepts of process capability. 6σ (the Greek letter Sigma) can be compared to the process capability indices Cpk or Ppk. This table shows the relationship between capability values and sigma values
As you can see by the above chart, once you calculate the process capability, it is simple to determine your process sigma value... you just multiply the Cpk value by 3!
Your organization's profitability increases significantly with each movement toward a higher sigma level, particularly if you have under performing processes.
Different levels of expertise have been classified by the 6σ practitioners. From Master Black Belt, Black Belt, Green Belt, all the way to Yellow Belt, the specific level of knowledge has its own set of requirements for Six Sigma certification. With the exception of the Yellow Belt, certification tests are given to ensure the individual can successfully utilize the body of knowledge required for their skill level.
Ever since Motorola initiated the first six sigma movement, thousands of companies have saved millions of dollars using the methods prescribed. And although many know that there are no new tools being used, the accountability inherent to 6σ is what makes it important! The systematic approach to process improvement, plus the focus on the business case for each project make for an outstanding improvement program.
Honestly, the majority of the good 6σ training available comes at a hefty price... but the payback your company receives from just one black belt project pays for itself in under one year! How's that for a return on investment!