Is Six Sigma Enough? (To Improve the Quality Level of an Organization...)

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Six Sigma Methodology | Six Sigma Model | Six Sigma Approach > Best Practices > Is Six Sigma Enough? (To Improve the Quality Level of an Organization...)

Is Six Sigma Enough? (To Improve the Quality Level of an Organization...)
MARIO ALVARADO, Teacher, Costa Rica, Member
In order to improve a process, or to get a new standard or higher quality level in an organization, is 6 Sigma a good approach?
My partners say that 6 Sigma is just for solving actual problems (d=define a problem), but it's not the best way to improve.
What do you think?

6 Sigma or Kaizen
Jens Folke, Consultant, Denmark, Member
Your colleagues have a very narrow perspective of Six Sigma. After improving the process i-stage) a control-plan is needed, and that involves Kaizen among others. Lean Six Sigma is an integrated approach to process improvements and product design.

It Depends...
Matthias Bittrich, Business Consultant, Germany, Member
It depends on the level of pain.
Is it sufficient to close gaps of customer-experiences (see: Kano model) by continuous improvements, id est: small steps?
Or do you need a huge critical hit like re-engineering?
6sigma means quality improvement, but maybe the solution for your problems is Poka Yoke? Maybe your problem is based on a wrong understanding of the customer? Never forget: you and your company never define what quality is - only the customer does.
As a senior consultant for process excellence I recommend a clear definition of the pain to find out if an expensive 3-6-months 6 sigma project is really necessary.

Is 6 Sigma Always a 3-6 Months Project?
Jens Folke, Consultant, Denmark, Member
I also see the use of the DMAIC model in a Kaizen event, i.e. one stage plan of 2-6 weeks duration, not always a project.
Using Prince2 for the DMAIC model, a 6 sigma project contains three project stage plans - one for M, A and I.
D is a short task and C is after the project has been closed.
If all you have is a project approach, everything looks like a project, not a Kaizan DMAIC event. Many people have a too narrow approach to 6 sigma.

6 Sigma and / or Kaizen
pankaj negandhi, Consultant, India, Member
6 sigma is an organisational approach to satisfy customer needs, expectations and customer delight. It is a approach to look for perfection in everything we do. The result of 6 sigma is less cost and high customer satisfaction. The organisation pain areas can be addressed through 6 sigma in a planned manner.
Generally speaking Kaizen is an individual activity for continuous improvement, it is also improvement of self or own work station or product to solve pain area.
One can apply 6 sigma and Kaizen in a complementary manner. Both have end result as more satisfied customer with lesser cost. And enhanced quality. The one which suits the company's culture should be adopted first.
The approach to 6 sigma is demanding lot of organisational commitment whereas Kaizen demands lot of individual commitments to improve.
Both are systematic approaches and can be applied together while keeping customer satisfaction in mind.

Other tools may supplement
pankaj negandhi, Consultant, India, Member
Organisation productivity depends upon change management and one of the tools is 6 sigma.
Kaizen would give quick result for rejection reduction with simple display board monitoring rejection at initial stage.
For in-depth analysis for improvement some more tools need to be employed like cost of quality, Deming 14 principles and 6 sigma approach. Organisation should also look for employee engagement index to improve organisation productivity.
One should also look at company wide training for the same purpose.
Just in time is also one of the technique to enhance organisational productivity.
All above concepts need to be evaluated before use and should not be applied as fancy tools.

Try a Lean Six Sigma Approach
Michael Jensen, Student (MBA), United States, Member
@Jens Folke: I agree that your colleagues have a narrow perspective. While Six Sigma is a proven methodology, if it is improperly implemented it will not be not a cure-all for all problems.
I think the best approach is to apply Lean Six Sigma which has a collection of both high tech and low tech solutions that lend themselves to most situations.
Once the problem is identified, it is important to select the appropriate tools and strategies best suited to the situation. Otherwise a "jump in with both feet" approach can drag out the process of finding the effective solution.
Another point to consider is that Design for Six Sigma is another methodology that can be effectively deployed in certain circumstances.

6 Sigma is a Systematic Way, not Focusing Enough on Improving Efficiency
zhang, mechanics, China, Member
I agree with you. 6 sigma is not efficient for improving efficiency. 6 sigma is a system and work approach for problem solving. It includes using many tools to define, measure, analyse, improve and control. But it is not a way to improve.
To only improve, using other tools is better.

Six Sigma is One Method Out of Many Possibilities
Matthias Bittrich, Business Consultant, Germany, Member
@Yuqin: Six Sigma offers a wide range of methods, from scamper over fishbone up to 5 Why root cause analysis. On the other hand I had consulting success with methods from lean or poka yoke. Six Sigma is a tool for the management staff, i.e. brings numbers for controlling.
But besides SIPOC I never saw anything belonging to process modeling like bpmn 2.0 which makes implementation of improvement nearly impossible. Especially in IT matters in telecom or financial services. Without huge knowledge of IT, Six Sigma is quite worthless in there.

Is Six Sigma Enough to Improve Quality
Maharaja Himandu Upadhyay, Manager, India, Member
Basically Six Sigma does not improve a process automatically. It provides various structured method to identify an issue and quantify it.
And after improvement it can measure the effect.
Yes I agree that some tools like regression or DOE can expose hidden issues or best solutions, but which tool to use, what kind of data to collect, is based on judgement or the skills of a professional.
Finally, in this world there is no concept which works in isolation. So we can apply the Lean method, or the Balanced Scorecard method or COPQ together with Six Sigma which will actually give synergy...

Reaching Minds is Essential in Quality Improvement
Matthias Bittrich, Business Consultant, Germany, Member
@Maharaja Himandu Upadhyay: (Lean) Six Sigma is a suitcase of methods.
All for nothing, if you do not have solid knowledge of change management and its effects:
- Measuring is not the problem, but people who worry about their jobs is a problem.
- Change is not a problem, but resistance to change is the problem. If you present people abstract methods, you will fail.
- Everyone from the basic worker up to the CEO has only one single interest: what is in for me?
So you should not confront any of them with highly complicated methods and PowerPoint orgies, but you need to deliver some kind of "Lean Six Sigma Light".
KISS - Keep it Simple and Stupid is much more successful in getting acceptance than anything else. With sober facts and Six Sigma columns of figures and numbers you will not reach anyone. And even if, you do not get exaltation in their heads which is essential for reaching excellence in your processes.

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Jagdish B Acharya

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