Six Sigma Still Misunderstood By Many

Popularized by Motorola and GE in the 1990s, Six Sigma is perhaps the most effective problem solving methodology for improving business performance; yet it is still misunderstood by many.

Six Sigma’s rigorous methodology Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control (DMAIC) and many of the Six Sigma “tools” have been broadly adopted. But at the most fundamental level, Six Sigma uses data and statistical analysis to understand variation in processes. This is the area where I see the biggest gap in understanding.

Consider how often someone in business is asked “how long” it (process) will take? The most accurate answer should be how long “on average”. The actual time could be shorter or longer. However many of our business cultures demand a response that will ensure you seldom exceed the estimate. A Six Sigma company would say that to be safe 95% of the time, your answer would need to be inflated by 2 standard deviations (a measure of variation) greater than the average. If the process in question has a lot of variability, this inflated time could be significant. Consider the consequences if every process in a value chain inflated their time or cost estimates similarly. This issue applies to all businesses, manufacturing or service, and also to non-profits and government agencies.

Do you have any processes that achieve their monthly goal, only to be followed by a month when they don’t, and you can’t explain why? Perhaps you need Six Sigma to help you better understand and control variation.

MEA’s Lean & Six Sigma Partner Supply Velocity will be facilitating a new, 3-day Six Sigma Green Belt Training beginning May 19, 2017.


About the Author

Ray Davis brings over 35 years of executive, sales and marketing experience to Supply Velocity where he serves as Managing Partner. A serial entrepreneur, Ray has led three startups and he currently leads Floating Wetland Solutions, an environmental company with proprietary water quality technology. Among his other assignments, Ray served as Vice President Sales and Marketing for Nomaco, VP Services Division for Fire Suppression Systems, Regional VP for Productivity Point International, and Executive VP for Compu Ed 2000. After graduating college Ray started his career with DuPont where he picked up his initial Facilitator, Quality, Lean and Six Sigma training.