What is Six Sigma?
Six Sigma is a long term, forward thinking initiative designed to fundamentally improve the way of doing things so that quality improves and variations are reduced.
Six Sigma is more sophisticated than applying simple problem solving tools. Six Sigma applies statistical tools to identify and remove causes of variation.
A process performing at a Six Sigma level means that 99.99966% of the products produced are statistically expected to be within specifications.
Statistical Meaning of Six Sigma
Lets consider a process which has upper specification limit (USL) and lower specification limit (LSL). Lets say a pipe with diameter 3cm has to be produced and the USL and LSL are 3.1cm and 2.9cm respectively. Each pipe that will be produced will never be exactly 3.0 cm. The measurements are likely to be 3.01cm, 2.99cm, 2.92cm, 3.09cm and so on. The deviation from the mean measurement is called the standard deviation or SIGMA. For e.g. the mean could be 3.001cm.
Six Sigma defines that the SIGMA should be so low that you should be able to fit 6Sigmas on either side of mean. Higher the variation from mean, the higher the chances that your sigma will be higher and higher the chance that you wont be able to fit 6 sigmas on either side of mean.
The diagram above represents a process where the measurements are such that 6 sigmas are fitted between USL and LSL. This represents 0.002 per million defects or 2 per billion cases.
In the real world, the mean shifts by about 1.5 SIGMA on one side of mean, thus you will be able to fit 4.5 sigmas on one side of mean and 7.5 sigmas on the other. Thus, you can have 3.34 defects/million on one side and zero defects on the other side. If you achieve this, you would have achieved six sigma accuracy.
Mumbai Dabbawala – A case study of Six Sigma
A dabbawala is a person in Mumbai, who is part of a delivery system that collects hot food in lunch boxes from the residences of workers in the late morning, delivers the lunches to the workplace, predominantly using bicycles and the railway trains, and returns the empty boxes to the worker’s residence that afternoon.
It is estimated as per various studies and surveys that dabbawalas make less than one mistake in every six million deliveries. That is better than 3.34 defects in 1 million as required by Six Sigma process. Therefore we can say that Dabbawalla network operates at Six Sigma efficiency.
Informative article. Can you tell if I can use Six Sigma Concept in my we based trainings ?
Six Sigma is a set of tools and techniques to reduce variations and improve quality. Basically you need to identify a issue at hand and apply various tools and techniques to improve. therefore the answer to your question is YES, absolutely! I presume that you conduct web based trainings. So you must be facing various issues e.g. Marketing issues, tool issues, content issues. When you want to run an improvement program you choose an issue and execute a project to improve. e.g. lets take a Tool issue that you may be facing. Then you will use the DMAIC methodology to DEFINE the issue first, MEASURE what wrong (latency, clarity issues, bandwidth etc), ANALYSE the issue, define IMPROVEMENT plan of action (changing the tool, improving the bandwidth etc) and finally CONTROL what you have defined as a solution.
Please also remember that the solution could be at many levels. The levels are generally defined using some of the standard models such as CIMM models. So the solution can be a basic solution at a CIMM level 1 or an advanced level such as CIMM level 4 or Level 5. As you increase the levels, the more statistical you solutions need to get and the more you need to achieve to really call it a Level 4 or Level 5 project. Hope this helps. Let me know if you need more clarifications.
Excellent! Easy to get it.. Six Sigma Certification, Who can do it?
Anyone who wishes to improve the current state of working should do Lean Six Sigma. Lean Six Sigma is a set of tools and techniques which will help you to reduce variation and improve quality. For e.g. if you are in software, you would work on six sigma techniques to reduce defects, if you are in manufacturing you would work on reducing your scrap. there are 2 options for you. One is yellow belt and second is green belt. Start with a Yellow Belt first. Worry about the statistics part (which is part of Green belt) later.
Excellent article. How will you integrate your program into the work?