the Right Things
The First Time
Is this Total Quality or Six Sigma
The answer is
Six Sigma provides a structured approach to Total Quality.
In 1988, Motorola and the Westinghouse Commercial Nuclear Fuel Division
won the first Baldrige National Quality Awards. Both Motorola and
had undertaken major quality improvement programs in the
Motorola used Six Sigma quality and Cycle Time reduction as the foundations
its Continuous Improvement program. The goal was Total Customer
(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
Today, we see many corporations -- most notably GE --
quantitative quality improvement programs to achieve
results. Strong management leadership and
support has been as
vital in these successes as the
improvement techniques themselves
-- Bob Galvin at Motorola,
D'Amore at WCNFD, and Jack Welch at
In 1985, Bill Smith at Motorola demonstrated a correlation between how
product was repaired during manufacture and its life in the
levels in the parts per million (ppm) rather than in
hundred (%) were
needed to improve the reliability of
electronic products in order to compete with the
Japanese. Hence, the
development of the Motorola Six Sigma quality
with its landmark
quality level of 3 ppm defects.
Six Sigma was intended to improve the quality of processes that are
under control -- major special causes of process problems have
The output of these process usually follows a Normal
distribution with the
process capability defined as ± 3 sigma.
The process mean will vary each time a process is executed using
equipment, different personnel, different materials, etc. The
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.
A more quantitative version of Deming's PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act)
Improvement methodology was developed to implement this
statistical approach --
it is commonly referred to as MAIC.
Key product-process performance variables are measured, analyzed, improved,
controlled using statistical methods. The simple "statistical"
were popularized in the Total Quality era are
Design of Experiments
(DOE) and more sophisticated
Process sigma is the primary unit of measure. It is determined from
analysis of the number of defects observed in a process. Performance
compared to the Best-In-Class sigma for that process to determine
process needs to be improved or the product / service needs to
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
Similar to the problem-solving models where an initial step to define
problem was frequently added, some practitioners prefer to precede
MAIC with a
Define step. They feel that selecting and defining the right
critical. Effort can easily be wasted working on poorly
processes -- as illustrated by many TQM
TQM is an overall business (quality) improvement system. It
leadership, strategic planning, and human resources as well as
Improvement -- as seen in the Baldrige Award Framework below.
The previously described Six Sigma Process Improvement methodology would
covered in criteria 3, 4, and especially 6 -- Customer and Market
Information and Analysis, and Process Management respectively. The
criteria does not prescribe the use of a specific quality
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
contribute effectively through work teams and individually. TQM
provided a big
impetus to problem-solving teams, quality improvement teams
cross-functional teams. Companies generally trained teams to
statistical quality tools in solving problems. These teams
have been very
effective in developing and implementing consensus-based
productivity and quality issues.
The core values and concepts of the Malcolm Baldrige Total Quality Awards
Employee Participation (Teamwork)
Management by Fact (measures)
Customer requirements, design quality, measures, and continuous improvement
key elements of Six Sigma Process Improvement.
Many Total Quality improvement efforts did not achieve their objectives
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.
Many companies today are achieving dramatic results with a company-wide
Sigma Improvement System based on the previously described Six Sigma
Improvement methodology -- MAIC. Large numbers of technical
trained as "black belts" to lead teams in applying the
methodology. Most black belt training programs focus
advanced statistical techniques.
High level executives are appointed as "champions" to drive the Six
Program within their segment of the company. Master Black Belts
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
To reduce the workload on their key personnel, to lessen the need for
training, and to minimize costs, small organizations (and some
large ones, too)
obtain external facilitation and statistical methods
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).
The four-phase Brecker Six Sigma Improvement Methodology incorporates elements
Value Analysis (VA), Quality Function Deployment (QFD), and QS9000
is now similar) into the Six Sigma Improvement System to
provide better results
with less effort and cost.
Implementation can be undertaken at 3 levels
Organizations can pilot this methodology at the product line / plant level
before committing to company wide implementation and
training. Traditional Six Sigma training addresses Phase 3.
Process (Phase 3)
Product Line / Plant (Phases 2-3)
Business (Phases 1-3).
Phase 1: Key problem areas are identified and quantified.
Senior personnel analyze customer, financial, operational, and quality data
identify improvement opportunities and quantify possible improvements.
An Activity-Based Costing approach is frequently taken.
goals are aligned with strategic business objectives. This is
DMAIC at the business level with the Critical to Quality (CTQ)
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
Product line / plant teams use value analysis style workshops to develop
evaluate specific product / service and process improvements needed to
quality, productivity, and cost objectives. Lean thinking, Six
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
detailed implementation plans for improvements. Lean thinking,
Six Sigma, Kaizen, and
other quality and productivity tools are used as
Phase 4: Improvements are implemented and monitored.
Strong management support is essential in making significant and
improvements. Decision-making needs to be crisp. Follow-up needs
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
are working on the "right" problems and that quality and financial
met or surpassed.
Westinghouse definition of Total Quality (1985).