What is Six Sigma: a Methodology to Improve Company Processes


Before we start delving into the Lean Six Sigma methodology, I would like to make a small introduction so that we can understand what it means. Read on and we’ll tell you what Six Sigma is.

Lean and Six Sigma have some goals in common, namely to improve the company’s management and operations. Lean is more focused on increasing the speed of operations, so we can define it as the system that fights waste. Instead, Six Sigma focuses more on increasing quality.

What is Six Sigma?

The Six Sigma methodology was a concept started by Bill Smith in the 1980s. This variance reduction methodology was created to minimize or eliminate defects or failures in the delivery of a product or service to the customer/user.

The goal of Six Sigma is to detect 3.4 defects per million. That is, any defect that the product or service presents and does not meet the customer’s requirements.

To understand Six Sigma, we must first understand what “variance” is and how it is measured.

Sigma (σ) is a Greek letter understood as a statistical unit of measurement. This is used to define the standard deviation of a population. This standard deviation tells us how far the data are from the mean. The greater the standard deviation, the greater the data dispersion.

Therefore, the sigma level corresponds to the appropriate number of standard deviations between the specification limits of a process. For example, let’s imagine that we have to manufacture a “product” that has to be 16 +/- 1 mm in diameter. To determine if it meets the customer’s requirements, we must have a specification limit less than 15mm and greater than 17mm, with a 16mm lens.

We must bear in mind that most traditional companies are at the 3 sigma level, that is, they normally have 6.37% of defects in their operations. The point is that they start working with 6 sigma, so that defects can be reduced to 3.4%.

Go From 3 Sigma to 6 Sigma

Fortunately, to understand what Six Sigma is, you should know that it comes with an instruction manual called the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) course.

DMAIC is a systematic, scientific, fact-based improvement process. With this system we can eliminate unproductive processes that slow us down or are inefficient.

It Consists of the Following Procedure:

1# Definition

Find and validate the specific issue or defect while introducing program participants.

2# Caliber

This process consists of understanding how the problem or defect works to find a solution for improvement.

3# Analyze

In this section, we must analyze the real reasons that caused the problem or defect to change it.

4# Improvement

Decide what improvements need to be made and from there figure out how to implement them to reduce the investment as much as possible.

5# Control

At this stage of the procedure, the necessary measures must be taken to be able to guarantee the continuity of the improvement, to be able to fulfill the client’s requirements and to be able to evaluate both the economic conditions and the client’s satisfaction.

There are other methodologies derived from Six Sigma:

  • DMADOV (Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, Improve and Verify)
  • PDCA-SDVA ​​​​(Plan, Implement, Check and Act – Standardize, Implement, Check and Act)

And that’s it! So that you can apply the Six Sigma methodology in your company and improve your productivity. If you want to become a good leader and learn all the most innovative management techniques, we recommend a Master in Entrepreneurship that will help you to develop and accelerate the growth of your company.


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