Many companies will use the Six Sigma framework in order to ensure their processes are running as efficiently as possible and producing high quality of goods. However, many employees will have no idea what Six Sigma actually is and why so many companies use it.
The below article is therefore designed to give you a swift overview of how and why Six Sigma came about:
The beginning of Six Sigma
Perhaps many reading this article would be surprised to find out that Six Sigma can actually be traced back to the eighteenth century. Carl Frederick Gauss is accredited with introducing it and did so as an intangible normal curve metric. The Six Sigma framework was then further advanced by Walter Shewhart who, in the 1920s, did so by presenting how three sigma deviancies from the mean required a process correction.
Although many other measurement standards were introduced through the years, it was only in 1980 when this quality management process got a proper name; Motorola started implementing it within their company and created the trademark name of ‘Six Sigma’. The name itself is actually accredited to an engineer who went by the name of Bill Smith.
The growth of Six Sigma
After implementing Six Sigma for a period of time, Motorola engineers, Bill Smith and Mikel Harry, wrote and codified a piece of research which clearly showed how mutually dependent a product’s performance in the marketplace was against quality management adjustments made to correct defects when being manufactured.
The report clearly showed that Six Sigma in its current form did not result in as accurate calculations as they wanted and required. The previous calculations presented defects per thousand opportunities but the engineers decided that it would be better to measure defects per million opportunities and so they did and DMPO (defects per million opportunities) was introduced and became a set measurement standard.
Alongside the introduction of DMPO, Motorola also developed ‘logical filters’. These were four stages; Measure, Analyse, Improve and Control and would later take the form of DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve and Control). Motorola’s efforts helped the manufacturing landscape, i.e. other companies, realise and start to implement these Six Sigma changes and helped save companies a lot of money. Indeed this ‘new and improved’ Six Sigma is said to have helped Motorola save well over $16 billion dollars over the years.The continued use of Six Sigma
Since it was first introduced many years ago now, Six Sigma has become a key part of many companies’ (across the globe) quality management control processes. Six Sigma is seen as an extremely effective and sustainable programme which can help a company literally turn itself around. Indeed, there are a huge number of FTSE 100, as well as Fortune 500, companies who claim Six Sigma has helped them save money, as well as improve their process efficiency and quality of their products.
Samsung lists Six Sigma as key to aiding its innovation in the marketplace; Ford successfully used Six Sigma to improve the quality of their cars and up customer satisfaction; AXA used Six Sigma to improve its business performance; HSBC US also used the Six Sigma framework which resulted in a 274% improvement in their net income.
There are many more examples of where companies list Six Sigma as a key part of their business success but for now, a concise list of some ‘big names’ should put across just how valuable Six Sigma is and continues to be:
◾Ford Motor Company