Six Sigma

Six Sigma is a set of techniques and tools for process improvement. Today, it is used in many industrial sectors. Six Sigma seeks to improve the quality of process outputs by identifying and removing the causes of defects (errors) and minimizing variability in manufacturing and business processes. It uses a set of quality management methods, including statistical methods, and creates a special infrastructure of people within the organization ("Champions", "Black Belts", "Green Belts", "Yellow Belts", etc.) who are experts in these methods. Each Six Sigma project carried out within an organization follows a defined sequence of steps and has quantified value targets, for example: reduce process cycle time, reduce pollution, reduce costs, increase customer satisfaction, and increase profits. These are also core to principles of Total Quality Management (TQM) as described by Peter Drucker and Tom Peters (particularly in his book "In Search of Excellence" in which he refers to the Motorola six sigma principles).

The term Six Sigma originated from terminology associated with manufacturing, specifically terms associated with statistical modeling of manufacturing processes. The maturity of a manufacturing process can be described by a sigma rating indicating its yield or the percentage of defect-free products it creates. A six sigma process is one in which 99.99966% of the products manufactured are statistically expected to be free of defects (3.4 defective parts/million), although, as discussed below, this defect level corresponds to only a 4.5 sigma level. Motorola set a goal of "six sigma" for all of its manufacturing operations, and this goal became a by-word for the management and engineering practices used to achieve it.

Champions Are

  • Company executives who lead Six Sigma by backing projects.
  • Individuals who receive instruction regarding the basic principles of Six Sigma and its methodology.
  • Responsible for choosing employees to be “Belts” and mentoring project leaders.
  • Those who implement and back the introduction of Six Sigma within the firm.

Master Black Belts Are

  • Aligned with the Champion to offer support and provide Project Descriptions.
  • Those who will advise and instruct Green Belts and Black Belts.
  • Professionals with widespread project management knowledge.
  • Masters of Six Sigma Methodologies with proven track records.
  • Individuals with an advanced understanding of the Statistical Tools used within Six Sigma.
  • Prospective leaders of a corporation.

Six Sigma Belts Are

  • Individuals who obtain instruction concerning the road map of Six Sigma.
  • Individuals who receive one-week to four-week training sessions that provide them with an opportunity to progress through his or her project as the skills are learned.
  • Individuals who successfully complete all required training, exams, and a live project.

Black Belts receive four weeks of instruction that focus on the Six Sigma road map. This training will include an extensive look at statistical methodologies. Successful Black Belts are project leaders whose job requires at least 75% of their time dedicated to completing four to six month Six Sigma Projects.

Green Belts receive two weeks of class time which will cover the important aspects of the statistical methods needed to complete Six Sigma projects, while learning the Six Sigma road map. Green Belts spend up to 50% of their time working on Six Sigma projects that last for four to six months each.