What is six sigma all about?
For me, there is almost nothing better than a good cup of coffee on a quiet morning drive. I like to get my coffee in a very specific way – large, dark roast, black, with light ice. That “recipe” for the coffee shops I go to give me the perfect flavor at a temperature that is immediately drinkable. Two things that are very important to me.
No ice and it is too hot. Too much ice and above being cold, the flavor is watered down.
Nothing ruins that quiet morning drive like drinking cold rust water or burning the taste buds off the surface of my tongue (I have proven time and time again that I lack the self-discipline to not burn myself when it comes to coffee).
So…What does this have to do with Six Sigma?
The short answer is everything. The temperature and flavor of my coffee has a big impact on my satisfaction as a patron of the various coffee shops. The coffee shops that are more consistent with my coffee get more of my business. They are reliable. They are predictable.
This is exactly what we aim to accomplish with Six Sigma.
Six Sigma has a lot of terms and tools. It relies heavily on facts and data (rather than gut-feel). But before we can even start talking about that, it is important to know that the primary goal of Six Sigma is to reduce variation. By reducing variation, processes become more consistent, reliable, and predictable.
All of us have examples in our personal life where we experience variation. Clothing sizes, drive thru wait times, the quality of customer service, etc. If you stop and think about it, variation is all around us – and when you are a customer, it is easy to see (or taste – in my coffee example).
Guess what? Variation is costing your business time and money.
Variation appears in so many forms: inconsistent instructions, methods, training, materials, reports, etc., etc. etc. I could go on and on – variation is all around us. What Six Sigma accomplishes is training people to see the variation that exists in the work they do, provides a structured method to get to the root causes of variation and provides tools to implement solutions that make the process more consistent.
How do you know if Six Sigma Applies to your business?
If you and your colleagues are spending too much time “fire fighting” – resolving errors, correcting issues, revising, reworking, starting over – then variation is likely a big part of these problems.
If you see this happening - Six Sigma is the answer. Reach out to us (click here) and we can have a conversation of how your organization might use Six Sigma to make these problems go away.
Christopher M. Spranger, MBA, ASQ MBB
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