Six Sigma has been around in the U.S. since the mid 1980’s and was originally developed and implemented by the Motorola Company. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with six sigma, it is essentially a set of strategies and tools that are implemented to enhance processes conducted within a business or organization. Six sigma was first developed to assist within the manufacturing realm of businesses since it strives to improve the quality of product output while also trying to eliminate product or process defects. One of the main key components of six sigma is that it is measurement-based so that results can be evaluated. However, since the origin of six sigma, many corporations have taken on the task of also implementing lean tactics to help improve quality and limit defects, but it is important to note that not all six sigma plans are not identical they differ in framework and depth due to each corporation’s unique set of objectives.
How did Motorola’s Six Sigma Program Operate?
Are you curious to know more about the program that allegedly saved the Motorola Company 17 billion dollars (yes, I said billion) between the years of 1986 and 2008? If so, please read on. After being prompted and introduced to the benefits of a lean program through a quality research report, Bob Galvin the CEO of Motorola in 1987 made the decision to launch a long-term quality improvement program in which he referred to as “The Six Sigma Quality Program.” This six sigma program was to be implemented at each level within the company, whether it was in administration, in processes, or product development six sigma was a leading guideline that was put into place. As stated earlier, the main goals of the six sigma program were to improve processes in order to manufacture a more quality product while also eliminating defects. This seems almost like common sense. However, the sad truth is that there are still many businesses out there that manufacture products for consumer use that are unsatisfactory in nature and furthermore, even the process of manufacturing the item or product is ununiformed and therefore ambiguous. The Motorola six sigma approach really aims to drive the prioritization of the right projects within the company while still ensuring that all improvement projects and designs are implemented correctly in each area of the business.
General Six Sigma Doctrine
Although many variations of the six sigma methodology are available today and in use within many corporations, the foundation essentially remains the same. The doctrine of six sigma states that continuous efforts to achieve stable and predictable process results are vital. This means that processes should be analyzed for defects and should be uniform to create a result that is dependable each and every time. In addition, it also states that manufacturing as well as business processes display characteristics that can be measured, analyzed, controlled and improved. This is where the measurement piece comes into play. If processes cannot be clearly analyzed and improved upon as needed, then the process would not be nearly as beneficial. Lastly, achieving sustained quality improvement requires commitment from everyone in the company especially the commitment of those in higher managerial positions. If the six sigma doctrine is not understood and followed by all staff members, the program will not result in the monumental improvements that it could be capable of.