What is Six Sigma?

What is Six Sigma?
What is Six Sigma?

What is Six Sigma?


Six Sigma is a framework to make an organization more competitive by focusing on being effective and efficient.

Six Sigma’s Basic Premises

Six Sigma has fundamentally two focuses –variation reduction and waste reduction that ultimately lead to less defects and increased efficiency. (Also see: What is the meaning of 6 Sigma?)

Six Sigma’s Approach to Problem Solving

Originally developed by Motorola as a general approach to measuring quality in business performance terms. Now it has evolved be a project driven approach to process improvement that follows the five-step process known as the DMAIC cycle. (Also see: History of Continuous Improvement)

The Primary Goals of Six Sigma are to Improve

  1. How effective you are at meeting or exceeding your customer’s needs and requirements.
  2. How efficiently you operate.

It achieves this by…

Three Key Elements of Six Sigma

Unlike other quality improvement philosophies, Six Sigma is comprised of three key elements:

  1. Strategy
  2. Tactics
  3. Culture

Six Sigma Philosophy & Methodology

A result-oriented, continuous improvement process that includes active involvement from senior management.

Why Use Six Sigma?

Higher quality leads to happier clients, better products, engaged employees, higher profits.


The Strategy of Six Sigma

  • Define the three major components of Six Sigma
  • Examine the three elements of a high-functioning organization
  • Examine the three major types of business processes
  • Analyze who should be the process owners
  • Discuss how to choose high-impact Six Sigma projects


Six Sigma and DMAIC

One of the chief tools in Six Sigma is the use of the DMAIC methodology.

There are five tools that are used in this method. They are as follow:

  • Define: You have to recognize the problem.
  • Measure what the process is. Find your baseline performance.
  • Analyze: Study your data to see why your problems are occurring.
  • Begin improving your results by elimination of root problems.
  • Control: Start using a new process for production. Make certain you have achieved success. Measure your new process by your customer reactions.

 Amusing: How this conversation usually goes:


Six Sigma Black Belt Certification ‘What is Six Sigma’ Questions:

Question: The primary reason that most companies implement six sigma is to: (Taken from ASQ sample Black Belt exam.)

(A) reduce defects
(B) improve processes
(C) improve profit
(D) increase customer satisfaction

Answer: The primary reason companies implement six sigma is to improve profit. Obviously a non-profit might have other goals (like be a better custodian of their source funds in pursuit of their mission. However, when looking at the other options listed, each of them would be done in service of the improve profit answer.

6 comments… add one
  • Dennis Gudger

    Great web page!

  • Stevensixsigma

    Quite Informative, thanks for all your help

  • ajaykrawat

    Hi! Dan,
    I am little bit confuse about this answer which says that improve profit would be the primary goal to adopt six sigma. We know sigma is directly related to DPMO ( it talks about defect which due to process variation ) so in this sense ans should be A.

    • Hi Ajay, we’re talking about 2 different things here. For a company or an enterprise to adopt the philosophy of Six Sigma the biggest driver is improving the bottom line. If you want to calculate the Sigma of a process, you would calculate DPMO. Make sense?

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