Six Sigma, TQM, and Value Analysis
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Six Sigma (D)MAIC TQM Six Sigma System B Score Card Brecker
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The First Time 1

Is this Total Quality or Six Sigma ?

The answer is BOTH .

Six Sigma provides a structured approach to Total Quality.

In 1988, Motorola and the Westinghouse Commercial Nuclear Fuel Division (WCNFD) won the first Baldrige National Quality Awards. Both Motorola and Westinghouse had undertaken major quality improvement programs in the early 1980's.

TCS Motorola used Six Sigma quality and Cycle Time reduction as the foundations of its Continuous Improvement program. The goal was Total Customer Satisfaction (TCS). In the late-1970's, Westinghouse began using Cycle Time reduction to dramatically reduce its investment in inventory. In the early 1980's, WCNFD also focused on improving process yield (fundamentally a Six Sigma approach). These similar Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) programs paid huge dividends. Motorola achieved a dominant market position in pagers and cell phones and WCNFD did so in nuclear fuel.

Today, we see many corporations -- most notably GE -- adopting similar quantitative quality improvement programs to achieve significant bottom line results. Strong management leadership and support has been as vital in these successes as the quality improvement techniques themselves -- Bob Galvin at Motorola, Mead D'Amore at WCNFD, and Jack Welch at GE.

Six Sigma Process Quality

In 1985, Bill Smith at Motorola demonstrated a correlation between how often a product was repaired during manufacture and its life in the field. Defect levels in the parts per million (ppm) rather than in parts per hundred (%) were needed to improve the reliability of semiconductors and electronic products in order to compete with the Japanese. Hence, the development of the Motorola Six Sigma quality program with its landmark quality level of 3 ppm defects.

Process Capability Six Sigma was intended to improve the quality of processes that are already under control -- major special causes of process problems have been removed. The output of these process usually follows a Normal distribution with the process capability defined as ± 3 sigma.

Process Variation The process mean will vary each time a process is executed using different equipment, different personnel, different materials, etc. The observed variation in the process mean was ± 1.5 sigma. Motorola decided a design tolerance (specification width) of ± 6 sigma was needed so that there will be only 3.4 ppm defects -- measurements outside the design tolerance. This was defined as Six Sigma quality.

Six Sigma Process Improvement -- (D)MAIC

A more quantitative version of Deming's PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) Process Improvement methodology was developed to implement this statistical approach -- it is commonly referred to as MAIC.

  • Measure
  • Analyze
  • Improve
  • Control
Key product-process performance variables are measured, analyzed, improved, and controlled using statistical methods. The simple "statistical" quality tools that were popularized in the Total Quality era are reinforced with Design of Experiments (DOE) and more sophisticated Statistical Process Control techniques.

Process sigma is the primary unit of measure. It is determined from an analysis of the number of defects observed in a process. Performance is compared to the Best-In-Class sigma for that process to determine whether the process needs to be improved or the product / service needs to be re-designed. When improvement is necessary, Design of Experiments (DOE) are used to determine which product or process parameters are most important and specific parameter values that will give the best performance. SPC is used to continually monitor product and process performance.

DMAIC Similar to the problem-solving models where an initial step to define the problem was frequently added, some practitioners prefer to precede MAIC with a Define step. They feel that selecting and defining the right process is critical. Effort can easily be wasted working on poorly selected, ill-defined processes -- as illustrated by many TQM failures.

Total Quality Management (TQM)

TQM is an overall business (quality) improvement system. It encompasses leadership, strategic planning, and human resources as well as Process Improvement -- as seen in the Baldrige Award Framework below.
Baldrige Framework
The previously described Six Sigma Process Improvement methodology would be covered in criteria 3, 4, and especially 6 -- Customer and Market Focus, Information and Analysis, and Process Management respectively. The Baldrige criteria does not prescribe the use of a specific quality improvement methodology such as Six Sigma. A business can select or develop its own process, but it must show that results are obtained.

The Baldrige criteria does assess whether all personnel are enabled to contribute effectively through work teams and individually. TQM provided a big impetus to problem-solving teams, quality improvement teams (QITs), and cross-functional teams. Companies generally trained teams to use simple statistical quality tools in solving problems. These teams have been very effective in developing and implementing consensus-based solutions to productivity and quality issues.

The core values and concepts of the Malcolm Baldrige Total Quality Awards are

  • Customer-Driven Quality
  • Strong Leadership
  • Continuous Improvement
  • Employee Participation (Teamwork)
  • Fast Response
  • Design Quality
  • Management by Fact (measures)
  • Partnerships
  • Measurable Results

Customer requirements, design quality, measures, and continuous improvement are key elements of Six Sigma Process Improvement.

Six Sigma Improvement System

Many Total Quality improvement efforts did not achieve their objectives because there was a lack of commitment to the specific improvement actions and to their effective implementation. Six Sigma, as a system, overcomes that weakness by

  • focusing on the common commitment to meeting customer requirements,
  • developing a consensus set of improvement actions,
  • prioritizing those actions, and
  • establishing measures that assure accountability in implementation.

black belt Many companies today are achieving dramatic results with a company-wide Six Sigma Improvement System based on the previously described Six Sigma Process Improvement methodology -- MAIC. Large numbers of technical personnel are trained as "black belts" to lead teams in applying the statistically-based methodology. Most black belt training programs focus heavily on these advanced statistical techniques.

High level executives are appointed as "champions" to drive the Six Sigma Program within their segment of the company. Master Black Belts coach black belts and coordinate Six Sigma projects. Some companies provide basic process improvement training to Six Sigma project team members and refer to them as "green belts." Black belts and / or teams are assigned process improvement projects with specific performance improvement goals.

To reduce the workload on their key personnel, to lessen the need for extensive training, and to minimize costs, small organizations (and some large ones, too) obtain external facilitation and statistical methods support.

Balanced Score Card

Balanced Scorecard Kaplan's Balanced Score Card (Harvard Business School) lends support to the importance of approaching business in a total systems manner such as TQM or Six Sigma in the broad sense. Employee skills are the base of Kaplan's business model. Employees work to improve quality and reduce cycle time (improve processes) so that deliveries can be made on-time. This creates customer loyalty which in turn generates profits for the company (Return on Capital Employed). Kaplan suggests using measures of employee skills, process quality, process cycle time, and on-time performance to monitor business performance in addition to the usual financial measures (which lag performance).

Brecker Six Sigma Improvement Methodology

The four-phase Brecker Six Sigma Improvement Methodology incorporates elements of Value Analysis (VA), Quality Function Deployment (QFD), and QS9000 (ISO900-2000 is now similar) into the Six Sigma Improvement System to provide better results with less effort and cost.

Brecker Six Sigma Improvement Methodology

Implementation can be undertaken at 3 levels

  • Process (Phase 3)
  • Product Line / Plant (Phases 2-3)
  • Business (Phases 1-3).
Organizations can pilot this methodology at the product line / plant level (Phases 2-3) before committing to company wide implementation and training. Traditional Six Sigma training addresses Phase 3.

Phase 1: Key problem areas are identified and quantified.

Senior personnel analyze customer, financial, operational, and quality data to identify improvement opportunities and quantify possible improvements. An Activity-Based Costing approach is frequently taken. Improvement goals are aligned with strategic business objectives. This is akin to DMAIC at the business level with the Critical to Quality (CTQ) and Critical to Business (CTB) parameters being passed down from Phase 1 to Phase 3 (similar to QFD or Hoshin planning).

Phase 2: Potential product / process improvement solutions are quantified.

Product line / plant teams use value analysis style workshops to develop and evaluate specific product / service and process improvements needed to meet quality, productivity, and cost objectives. Lean thinking, Six Sigma, and other quality and productivity concepts are considered.

Phase 3: Multi-functional teams improve key processes.

Multi-functional teams analyze products and processes in depth and develop detailed implementation plans for improvements. Lean thinking, Six Sigma, Kaizen, and other quality and productivity tools are used as appropriate.

Phase 4: Improvements are implemented and monitored.

Strong management support is essential in making significant and lasting improvements. Decision-making needs to be crisp. Follow-up needs to be relentless. Improvement goals and the implementation schedule must be met to achieve the projected returns.




The Brecker Six Sigma Improvement System insures that management and workers are working on the "right" problems and that quality and financial goals are met or surpassed.

1 Westinghouse definition of Total Quality (1985).


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Last updated 6/14/01