Lean Six Sigma – 12 queries and replies

publication date 11.05.2007

DMAIC Methodology - the basis of six sigma

An ever-increasing pressure on efficiency and quality, a need to expedite deliveries to customers demands that all the instruments available be utilized. The LEAN Six Sigma is one such useful and efficient tool.

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What is Lean Six Sigma?

It is a way how to increase the company´s worth and consequently also the profit through improving the company´s processes. The method utilizes “the human brain, power and flexibility of the company´s processes to capitalize and improve the company“. LEAN stands for thin and fit while SIX SIGMA stands for 6 standard variations. As we are dealing with processes, it means a process that we talk about as part of six sigma generates its products in such a faultless manner that out of one million output units just 3 or 4 units may not comply with the customer´s requirements. Such a process is called a lean one.

The DMAIC methodology – the Six Sigma fundamental

What does Six represent?

It is a structured, controlled, data-orientated process aimed at enhancing the company´s performance utilizing the statistical data being collected in the course of the company´s processes. It highlights knowledge-elaborate managerial philosophy, the management´s viable vision and – even more so – fault minimizing.

Where has this method come from? 

It was originally developed by MOTOROLA  corporation in the USA.

What is the Six Sigma mtehod based on?

The Six Sigma method is based largely on creating natural feedback system within the company which sensitively corrects “unsteadiness“ , thus keeping the company safely on the tricky track to meet its targets in the market environment.

Why is TQM no longer used? Everybody in their right senses finds out both the methods are quite similar?

Because TQM, as a method, has spent its content and lost – due to its various modifications by consultants – the original filling consisting in a deeper perception of the importance of the company´s processes and utilizing information as a way of adding higher value to products.

What is the asset of the Six Sigma methodology? Where does the fundamental difference lie?

The merits of Six Sigma consist primarily in a logical arrangement of the particular systemactic steps, a measurable improvement in the process dynamics while utilizing the principles of statistics, and a clear transparency with which the results are being used to enhance the processes involved in creating the product that the company markets. 

Already in TQM we learned incompliences and faults in products are encoded to the instability of those procesess involved in the product creation. Without a stable production process neither the products generated by such a process can be stable.

What is six sigma based on?

It is based on a logical frame of the DMAIC activities (see the chart) which appears to be clearer than the PDCA method even though, historically, the DMAIC  originated with the PDCA. In addition, it echoes better the voices of customers and processes.

What is the essence of Six Sigma?

The fact is the customers do not come into contact with the mean value of the required quality characteristics of products, but their variabilities. The process performance, therefore, can only be improved by reducing the variability in those product characteristics that are expected in the course of the process.

Who are the pillars of Six sigma method?

They are the appreciative and helpful management and the purposefully and well trained staff. The method takes advantage of both individuals and teams able to sort out problems and find new solutions. It accounts for different knowledge and experience of different people, and has them do jobs according to their knowledge levels. In addition, it has more thorough intentions and observations available to be utilized in pertinent training of the staff responsible who are assigned “responsibility belts and degrees of knowledge of the method“ pursuant to the “JUDA“ analogy.

How does Six sigma add value?

It makes “the customer´s voice“ more audible and connects it, by using pretty simple means, with „the process needs“ which are supposed to satisfy “the customer´s voice“. A lot of companies keep speaking about how they work with processes, yet in practise only a small set of companies can really hear the processes´ voice. Everybody boasts the certificates, however, only few companies in their strategies go over to real process management.

What Six Sigma is not?

Six sigma certainly is not a universal cure-all for any corporate ailments (such as tunnelling, unfair competition, theft and fraud, factitious and illegal lobbing, managerial head-hunting for other companies, etc.)

How does Six Sigma perform?

Six Sigma measures how well or how badly a particular process is performing as part of value-creating production chain. Increasing the performance and the efficiency of the process equals to reducing its variability. The process links up more smoothly with both the preceding and the following processes within the product process chain.

Vladimír Horáček

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„Rather than creating piles of documentation, it is better to draw a single scheme or picture.“ more >>

Jiří Střelec Jiří Střelec

And not just ISO, AS, OHSAS, CMMI  … but other standards, too, want us to describe what we do and how we do it. Most quality people and managers just produce pages of text which pile on the desk. Writing down a sentence is fairly easy. However, the sentence alone does not matter. What matters here is that people understand that sentence and use it in practice. Standards do not tell us how to describe our management system, though. Frankly, times are hasty and people have no time for reading piles of paper. They are bombarded by information from all sides. Besides, reading through a long document, they do not remember what was at the beginning. A picture or a scheme is faster to read and easier to remember. What if the system was created as an interactive model of schemes, pictures and supplementary text. Try to make out how.