It sounds like something out of a Ridley Scott movie; a planet populated by 3 headed aliens with a hunger for human flesh or maybe a time traveling space ship captained dashing young cadet and blond haired, vivacious co-pilot.
In all reality, Six Sigma is something so much more.
What – Six Sigma is the name given to a methodology that minimizes mistakes while maximizing value. This is done through specific steps that find, measure/analyze and design or improve on processes. Six Sigma can be applied to both managerial and technical components of a corporation. Projects are implemented from the Executive staff down, with key employees hired full time to run the project at various levels. Titles include green belts, black belts and champions.
Who – Motorola is credited with its birth in the 1980’s. Back then, an increase in quality was thought to have a direct correlation to an increase in production cost. Internal and external criticism caused the company to take a look at their production, mistakes, costs of mistakes, and overall inefficiencies. A scientific method was put to the managerial and technical aspects of corporations, who often experience tremendous growing pains that linger. The company so dramatically turned around that in the late 1990’s other large manufacturers began to wonder what had changed. The process was duplicated at companies like Texas Instruments and General Electric, who also began to see results. By 2000, many of the world’s Fortune 500’s had begun Six Sigma initiatives.
When – Projects are often implemented by consulting firms, and theoretically may never end (methodology argues there is always room for efficiencies). Certifications range from a few hours to months of coursework, depending on the level e.g. black belt, green belt.
Where – Six Sigma projects are ongoing at many Fortune 500’s companies at some level. Certification courses are offered at many colleges and universities.
Why – Mistakes cost money. Plain and simple. Finding these mistakes and using scientific processes to minimize these issue while maximizing value (quality) can save a company major bucks. Some reports have put Motorola’s long term savings from Six Sigma in the millions.
As with any methodology, there are criticisms. What works for one company may not necessarily work for another. Consulting firms, by nature, seek fault and find ways to fix it; this may not always be done in the most honest of manners.
Despite the controversies, Six Sigma is a major player in some of the biggest corporations in the world. Certifications equal job security in a market that demands more verified positions. The Institute for Corporate and Continuing Education offers certification and training programs in Six Sigma and its affiliate. It may not be the next science fiction fascination, but it is launching careers and changing how companies do business. For more information go to www.tampatraining.com.