Six Sigma

Whether you’re selling a product or a service, customers are the life blood of your business. Of course they are, everyone know this. But business managers are so busy with day to day operations that they often forget about the one person they should be focusing on – the customer. With all of the fires that need to put out every day it’s easy to forget.
Six Sigma can change all of that.

What is Six Sigma?
Six Sigma is just a better way to run your business or department. It is a system that focuses on the customer first and foremost. It uses statistical measurements, performance goals and a new system of management to reinvent and reinvigorate your business. It uses real data to help you retain customers and reduce defects and ultimately make your company more profitable.
Six sigma has been used by some of the biggest and best companies in the country to drive achievement and breakthrough improvements in every department in their organization. Companies like General Electric, Motorola, 3M, and Allied Signal have saved billions of dollars through the integration of the Six Sigma model into their corporate culture. But it’s not just for big companies; any size business in any field can benefit from using six sigma. And that includes yours.

What makes Six Sigma different?
If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you’ve no doubt seen many business improvement programs come and go. They hit the best seller list for a few weeks, become all the rage in the business community, and then in a few years they’re just a distant memory. So then why is Six Sigma different?
Six Sigma is different than other models because:
• It has lasted the test of time. Many of the biggest corporations have used Six Sigma for many years, and instead of the program fading away, it has become part of the culture and its implementation has spread.
• It is not a Band-Aid fix. Six Sigma is not just a set of guidelines to follow or a couple of improvement projects; it changes the way your management thinks, plans and executes.
• It has saved companies millions of dollar a year. Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, claimed that Six Sigma saved his company 2 billions dollars in 3 years.
• It focuses on the most important person in your business – the customer. Every aspect of the Six Sigma model is geared towards customer satisfaction.
As we look deeper into the six sigma model, you will begin to see how it achieves all of these benefits.

What does Six Sigma mean?
Sigma is the Greek letter used in statistics to represent standard deviation. It is usually used in its symbol form, σ, the lowercase sigma. In simple terms, standard deviation is a measure of how much variation exists in a set of data.
Take a look at the diagram below.

The mean (average) of the data set is the vertical line in the middle of the curve. The dark blue area under the curve represents all the data points that are within one standard deviation (1σ). This accounts for 68% of the data set. Two standard deviations (2σ) would include the medium blue and the dark blue and represent about 95% of the data.
So how does this relate to Six Sigma? Six Sigma is a business model that strives for your processes to put out non-defect products within six standard deviations (6σ or Six Sigma). That means that your products will be defect free 99.9997% of the time.
Let’s use an example to illustrate the power of Six Sigma. Let’s say your company manufactures paperweights in the shape of the Statue of Liberty. Your customer requires that they weigh 16 ounces, plus or minus one ounce. If it is less than 15 ounces or more than 17, they will send it back.
According to the Six Sigma model, if you delivered 68% of your paperweights within your customer’s specs, you would be at a two sigma level. That means that 31% of your paperweights would be defects. If you process put out 99.38% of your paperweights without defects, you would be at a four sigma level. To be at Six Sigma, you would have to export 99.9997% of your products without defects. That’s 3.4 defects per million.
Six Sigma is designed to challenge your management and employees to raise the bar and make products that are almost defect-free. Perfection is not the goal – that is impossible. The goal is the improve and manage your processes so that defects are almost non-existent.

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