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Six Sigma Case Study: Exxon Mobil

Even oil supermajors need a little help from Six Sigma from time to time. In fact, without Six Sigma’s trusted process improvement methods, many of America’s largest oil companies would never have achieved such success. Today, we look at Exxon Mobil, multinational oil and gas corporation, and the world’s seventh largest company by revenue. That level of success doesn’t happen overnight, you know, and Six Sigma is the driving force behind such progress. Let it do the same for your company. Learn from Exxon Mobil’s example and discover the methods in use for its daily operations.

Six Sigma and Best Practices

The Exxon Mobil Corporation has around 80,000 employees working in multiple countries around the world. Headquartered in Texas, they’re also no strangers to the benefits of Six Sigma in the workplace. Their 2013 Annual Report made the following statement: “Operational Excellence begins with exceptional employees.” This is above all, on the most intrinsic level, a Six Sigma statement. Its meaning is pretty clear.

Just as in Six Sigma, Exxon Mobil demands the best of the best. Without talented, change-driven individuals to conduct their work, neither Six Sigma nor Exxon Mobil would be able to function. This Six Sigma consciousness filters through every level of operation. When a new employee begins working for Exxon Mobil, the company provides them with extensive best practice procedures training. This ensures their new staff stay within guidelines, but it also helps to promote efficiency and productivity. Key agents in Six Sigma work. By reinforcing the need for best practices, employees are also less likely to cut corners or become wasteful.

Moreover, best practice procedures like standardization can also help reduce variation which leads to defective products, as well as to streamline processes. All these things mirror Six Sigma perfectly. In fact, they are in many ways the same, because Six Sigma is all about encouraging process improvement culture in the workplace.


Positive Results

Six Sigma practices have benefited Exxon Mobil to the point that it achieved a 17% return on capital employed in 2013 alone. Moreover, they were also able to reduce refinery cast operating costs thanks to energy-efficiency improvements. These results have only improved over time. Once you have completed your Six Sigma implementation, there’s no going back. These ideas and practices stay with employees, burrowing down to the deepest levels of your company’s infrastructure. Just as with Exxon Mobil, who, alongside Amazon and Apple, have cited “operational excellence” as the driving force behind their positive change.

Exxon Mobil has managed to save billions of dollars in operating expenses thanks to its implementation of Six Sigma principles. Six Sigma is a science all its own, and Exxon Mobil takes its use of Six Sigma a step further than the rest. Utilizing a detail-oriented, science-based approach to performance improvement, they employ measurement, data collection, and analysis, as well as risk management. These practices allow them to gain new insights into process issues and create improvements to correct them. Six Sigma’s influence is clear here, and we can trace it across every facet of Exxon Mobil’s operations. If you want your business to achieve a similar level of success, take a close look at how they run theirs.

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