Six Sigma is an improvement science that has been immensely popular and successful in the corporate sector to improve the business results in several ways.
However, besides business, we are stretching the Six Sigma improvement science to career and personal life as well.
In addition, not only limited to Six Sigma, we will also explore some other similar effective philosophies, methodologies, and systems that can help us all to improve our personal and professional lives in one way or the other.
First things first, I want to present the overview of Six Sigma which first can help you understand what it is all about.
If you ever thought that Six Sigma is only for business, you may be right, but here you will see that it can stretch to areas which you may not have imagined before.
Moving on gradually, I will first provide you the basic overview of Six Sigma in plain language in this home article.
Step by step, you can move on, and can unfold the deeper knowledge by browsing the other sections on this website.
Six Sigma is all about problem solving and making improvements whether it is business, career or your personal life.
The truth of the matter is that traditionally speaking, in order to understand the basics of Six Sigma, you have to have basic knowledge of statistics i.e. mean, median, standard deviation, correlation, data distributions, sampling, graphs & charts…
Although we will try to simplify the concepts wherever they occur, but still if something confuses you, don’t worry… I am going to do my best to elaborate even the most basic of the concepts in the simplest possible plain language.
The word ‘Six Sigma’ is basically a statistical term. Sigma is an 18th small letter Greek alphabet which is denoted by σ mostly used in statistics representing a ‘standard deviation’. (its equivalent alphabet in English is small ‘s’ , whereas the upper case 18th letter in Greek is ∑ which means summation, and its equivalence is big ‘S’ in English)
In addition to being just a statistical term 6 Sigma, it is now much more than that in the corporate world.
Six Sigma now represents the business improvement strategy which provides us very disciplined and scientific tools to analyze the problems and find its root causes and finally eliminating them to achieve better performance, improvement or cost savings.
In addition to business, I have deliberately further extended the role and use of Six Sigma approach on career management as well as on our personal lives.
I think if something works for the business, then why not use and apply it to improve many more areas of life including our career and personal lives.
Talking about the basics and just the overview of Six Sigma, you may wonder, why there are 6 sigmas – why not 2, 3, 7, 8 or 32 sigmas.
Well the short answer here is that if standard deviation is so small in any process output that it can easily fit within the customer requirements up to six times, then it is a near perfect process output.
As an example, if the average time (mean) of the pizza delivery is 18 minutes and the customers' requirement is 30 minutes.
Then in this case, hypothetically, if the standard deviation of the pizza delivery time turns out to be just 2 minutes, then it can easily fall within customers' requirements under 30 minutes.
It definitely can be considered as a six sigma process output.
Calculating 6 times standard deviation makes it 12 Minutes (6 x 2 Minutes) far from the mean of 18 minutes. That makes it under 30 minutes of customers requirements.
This process almost becomes perfect (with 3.4 defects in one million opportunities) – which gets statistically proved.
Although you may strive for 7 sigma or 8 sigma, but for that you even have to have smaller or tighter or almost zero standard deviation to fit within the customer conformance requirements that is almost impossible.
Now, as a side note, if you find the above numbers confusing, don't worry, we will gradually get deeper but will also with greater simplicity.
We will gradually keep adding more detail on our website, but here on this page we are providing you just the overview of Six Sigma. For more in depth details, please do browse through the top panel links to get better understanding of 6 Sigma in a simple way.
One of the most perfect industry so far is airline safety standards and it's related processes, which are usually more than 6 sigma or nearer to 7 sigma. You can well imagine that airline safety standards do not allow them to leave any loophole unattended. It can be much riskier with a big loss.
Let’s get clear about some more basic concepts when we talk about the Six Sigma.
Six Sigma approach is also about the mindset for problem solving in a systematic way.
With this approach, you will have to see, observe everything by wearing a Six Sigma hat in order to know, what is the issue or problem- which requires to be fixed.
Always try to think that you have to have lowest possible standard deviation to improve any process. If you wonder what is standard deviation, you may understand first in its simplest way, that it has its main word ‘deviation’ in it (from the standards). If you want your pizza to be delivered in 30 minutes and you get it in 60 minutes, certainly it is a deviation from your standards. So, standard deviation in statistics also tries to capture the same kind of process output data deviations from the standard. The lower the better…
Once you are clear about the problem, you can address that problem with the methodology of Six Sigma.
Generally speaking, there are many definitions of Six Sigma, but for me the simplest definition is:
'to help improve business results (profits) or performance through a very structured & scientific manner...'
In the field of Quality Management, we have seen and experienced many concepts, methods and systems.
TQM, ISO, Kaizen, BPR, BPM and now Six Sigma. Six Sigma is just an advanced and logical extension of all the previous Quality concepts and systems. All Quality approaches basically aim to derive better business results, and they do also in their own way. Six Sigma also promises and aims for the same objective - improved business performance results.
The difference is that Six Sigma has shown and proved far better solid results in dollars that is why 6 Sigma has become more famous as well as glamorous discipline of today's business world. Just like new inventions in technology and new models, everyone wants to try the latest taste.
We believe in Six Sigma, because of the reason that it actually shows and proves the business improvements as well as savings in dollars. Just like the concept of ‘Before Diet’ and ‘After Diet’ comparisons.
Six Sigma is now applicable in all industries; manufacturing and service (hospitality, hospitals, education, banks, real estate, NGOs, government, semi government etc). Therefore, we are extending the role of Six Sigma on career management as well as on our personal life management.
This overview of Six Sigma provides simple approach that it should be able to deliver some tangible results like one or more of these:
In our personal lives, we all struggle to get better results and get successful in the things we do. But the fact is that most of times we may not get the desired results and the desired success. Why? have you wondered ever? Well, it may be fate or it may be thinking & approach we adopt, or it may be the processes we adopt to do things or may be it is a combination of all three.
We will delve deeper gradually.... (you will find many answers in my articles and discussions on this site)
The theme of this website is to present Six Sigma in a simple uncluttered and practical way with the help of articles, stories and multimedia presentations – and it is for those who hate ambiguity.
As mentioned earlier, we will not bore you only with Six Sigma, we will also explore more such systems and frameworks that can help to transform our lives one way or the other.
IdeasBeat multimedia publishing aims to provide DIY (Do It Yourself) coaching & training with simplified and affordable tools and techniques to empower you with the basic to advance level knowledge. That will make you less reliant on external consultants, coaches and trainers.
We do hope to add value wherever we can.