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August 12, 2003

Six Sigma   (opinion)

Dilbert introduced me to the term "Six Sigma" rather unceremoniously. Dilbert's disdain for something isn't hard to detect, and after reading a bit of the Six Sigma website, I begin to understand.

As far as I can tell from browsing isixsigma.com, there are several very general and all-encompassing goals that businesses aim to achieve using the Six Sigma strategy (Six Sigma is a statistical mathematics term, referring to 6 standard deviations):

  1. to eliminate "defects" in manufacturing and service-related processes
  2. decrease process variation
  3. control the process performance
  4. assure predictable results
  5. accomplish effectiveness

The whole system is designed the way I would have designed it... endorsed and implemented by independent consultants who need to have some sort of certification. That creates on a very basic level, two interdependent revenue streams for the industry built around implementing Six Sigma solutions:
  1. revenue earned from training courses taken by consultants
  2. fees those consultants charge businesses implementing Six Sigma strategies
All in all, most certification strategies built around either logically sound procedures or widely used technologies are wildly successful.
As far as I can tell, it's a complete overhaul and streamlining of the way a business works, with a focus on efficiency and profitability. Sounds like common sense, right? Apparently not. And especially if they invent new names for ordinary things.

"Tell Me About That 6 Sigma" has a discussion/flamewar whose main point is to try to develop an "Elevator Speech" to describe what Six Sigma is and does. I found it to be a useful source of information.

Posted by yargevad at August 12, 2003 11:14 AM

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