Six Sigma in manufacturing was originally created in 1986 by Motorola as a set of tools and templates to improve manufacturing processes. Six Sigma is all about making processes more effective and efficient, by decreasing production costs and increasing product quality.
Six Sigma relies on measurable data used in manufacturing, as well as process tasks used to create the product/service.
What Does One Do with the Data?
Once the goal has been established for the business or organization, there’s a very precise template that has four phases:
- Define: Identify, prioritize and select the key project.
- Measure: Establish current baseline data, establish key project processes and measure current performance levels.
- Analyze: Identify variables, process inputs, key process causes for variables.
- Improve: Generate ideas, identify and evaluate solutions for your issue and develop an implementation plan.
- Control: Establish methods and document them for managing all the changes you’ve made on a full scale.
The DMAIC outline above is a very basic, easy to follow template. The template is a guideline; the tools that you use to establish the information needed make this whole process easy to follow.
One of the most important Six Sigma elements to implement is Six Sigma culture. Yes, knowledge of the processes and how to apply Six Sigma tools as well as methods are very important. But it is the involvement of the entire organization that does the trick.
For example, who defines what needs improving? In the traditional company culture, it would be senior managers and department heads. In a culture that implements the Six Sigma philosophy, everyone has a say in defining what needs improving, from the senior managers to the actual team members. After all, why shouldn’t they? Usually it is the actual team member/staff that does the work, so ideas will flow as to how to make processes better.
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