The Six Sigma name comes from the concept of standard deviation, a statistically derived value represented by the lower case Greek letter sigma: σ. The variations of processes and their output products are typically measured in the number of standard deviations from the mean. A good company typically operates between 3 and 4 sigma.
The central core of the Six Sigma concept is a six-step protocol for process improvement. These steps are as follows:
- Identify the product characteristics wanted by the customer.
- Classify the characteristics in terms of their criticality.
- Determine if the classified characteristics are controlled by part and/or process.
- Determine the maximum allowable tolerance for each classified characteristic.
- Determine the process variation for each classified characteristic.
- Change the design of the product, process, or both, to achieve Six Sigma process performance.
About the Author
Samuel Brown, PMP, is a course developer and instructor for Global Knowledge with 25 years experience teaching. In addition, he has provided project management consulting services for a variety of clients including GE, Glaxo Smith-Klein, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Michelin Tire, and IBM.
This article was originally published in Global Knowledge’s Business Brief e-newsletter. Global Knowledge delivers comprehensive hands-on project management, business process, and professional skills training. Visit our online Knowledge Center at www.globalknowledge.com/business for free white papers, webinars, and more.
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