Increasing Firm Value Using Six Sigma
Marjorie Green & Mischa Dick
Six Sigma Systems, Inc.
If the prospect of saving money alone is not convincing enough, this effort is accomplished largely with internal, ergo existing resources combined with the support of only a few external experts.
At the technical core, Six Sigma provides statistical tools to the broader organization. Associates at various levels are deployed on key projects to improve operational performance rapidly. The methods are used to gain fundamental process knowledge such that variation related issues are eliminated. Typical opportunities that are addressed with this approach are: Low yield, warranty claims, defects, excessive inspection, high inventory levels, administrative and financial errors, etc.
In assessing Six Sigma, one must realize that it is not just the use of statistics, but rather the element of critical data acquisition in conjunction with the tools that enables the capture of previously unattainable opportunities. The types of tools taught in a Six Sigma program vary depending on the industry and business issues at hand. Common examples of tools used are process mapping, failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA), Measurement System Evaluation (MSE) design of experiments (DOE), components of variation (COV), techniques for experimenting in noisy environments, and statistical process control (SPC) for process investigation. In addition, thought process mapping (TPM) is taught as a tool to support critical thinking and communication. Thought Process Mapping ensures that all projects are worked on a path of efficient and effective solution generation. All of these tools are then integrated into one cohesive methodology providing the organization with the know how to capture opportunities and the ability to communicate more clearly.
Just as important as the technical component of Six Sigma is the organizational infrastructure of the approach. The program lays a framework for process improvement that the entire organization, regardless of function, can utilize to identify and capture improvement opportunities. The framework, as much as the actual tools, may explain why Six Sigma has been so successful.