What is… Six-Sigma
Six-sigma is a data driven approach to solve problems. There are two main elements to remember; Defects and Variation. We want 0 defects (or the least amount possible) and we want the process to be stable with little to no variance – so each and every time we deliver the same result in the same way.
In this section you will be able to navigate through the DMAIC improvement cycle; one of the main improvement approaches of Six-Sigma. This will help you to effectively manage your Six-Sigma projects. Either work through DMAIC stage by stage, jump direct to the acronym or term or utilise our Six-Sigma Calculators. Don’t forget to sign up to our newsletter for support direct to your inbox as you and your project progresses.
Is a data driven improvement methodology to improve and optimise processes.
DMAIC is the main improvement cycle associated with Six-Sigma.
In the first phase of the DMAIC six-sigma improvement cycle we ‘you’ve guessed it…’ define the project. This is the foundation of your six-sigma improvement project. If the project is not defined, unrecorded or not signed off, then your project is likely to be in high company… and fail.
In this second phase of the DMAIC six-sigma improvement cycle we understand where we are today. A cornerstone of a DMAIC project is that they are data bound. That doesn’t mean to say that we have all the data in the world at our disposal, rather we utilise the data we have and seek out data for our purposes.
Understanding the Root Causes of our problem – Now we get to analyse the data we were collecting in the previous Measure Stage. The intention is to step beyond having data and to drill-down and analyse what the data is telling us.
The DMAIC Improve stage is where we get to mobilise and implement the improvements to our problems! This is where the change happens. Before, we head into delivery we will ensure suitable solution generation, prioritisation and selection of the optimum solution with measured risk.
Control is the final stage within the DMAIC improvement method. This phase is all about embedding the changes and ensuring sustainability. This is sometimes referred to as making the change ‘stick’. After all, why go through the rigorous approach of a six-sigma project if once the team go away so do the benefits!
Six-Sigma Frequently Asked Questions
What are Defects?
Central to the Six-sigma improvement methodology and to understanding sigma values is the term defects. A defect is simply something which is not performing/presenting how it should. We can use defects to understand the number of defects per million opportunities (DPMO). Which in turn helps us to understand the sigma levels. The ambition is to work towards a level of six-sigma hence the name.
Why use Six-Sigma?
Six-sigma is customer driven – it is based around the reduction of defects and variation. So the customer receives a product which is fit for purpose and they can rely on the organisation to deliver the product or service consistently.
Six-sigma takes a proactive approach. It doesn’t wait for issues to arise before issues are found.
It is founded on data and takes a fact based approach not ‘gut feelings’.
What is the difference between Lean and Six-Sigma?
Lean and Six-Sigma are two complimenting improvement methodologies. Within an organisation you may have Lean and Six-Sigma occurring in tandem. Many of the tools and techniques transfer from one another and some organisations run Lean Six-Sigma as their improvement method of choice.
In simple terms the main difference is Lean focuses on the reduction of the 8 wastes and is a more collaborative approach applied as a way of working. Lean is more capable at resolving the ‘lower hanging fruit’.
Six-sigma on the other hand is a more data driven approach to improvement that utilises statistics to inform improvements.
What are the dis-advantages of Six-Sigma?
People’s lack of understanding
The structured approach in some cases can suppress overall creativity
Requires considered effort and investment in keeping the approach moving
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