The aim of Six Sigma is to control all processes at the outset well before they get to the customerThis is done in a variety of ways by different firms.The following approaches represent some of the philosophical underpinnings:…
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Its goal is to ensure that there are no problems with any product or service that GE provides. This is done through quarterly customer surveys and daily manufacturing checks by internal engineers (Cohen, 1997).Since the 1980s, GE has sought improvement in business-performance and profitability through various programs (Hendericks and Kelbaugh, 1998). However, in 1995, Welch decided that those programs were not enough and directed the company to undertake Six Sigma as a corporate initiative. He said that it "is the only initiative he will introduce, but it will be introduced everywhere".The introduction of Six Sigma within GE was a dramatic culture change requiring impetus from the very top. Welch's personal leadership and direction was necessary and instrumental in the rollout of Six Sigma. When the employees tried to dismiss Six Sigma as the program of the month, Welch changed the business structure at a corporate level to underscore the importance of the goal. He implemented two notable strategic changes:The concept of Six Sigma at GE deals with measuring and improving how close the company comes in delivering on what it planned to do. Six Sigma provides a way for improving processes so that the company can more efficiently and predictably produce world-class products and services. There is a five-phased methodology applied by a Six Sigma team to tackle specific problems to reach Six Sigma levels (Paul, 1999). (We note that when Six Sigma was first launched at GE Aircraft Engines, a four-step methodology (MIAC) was followed. Recently, the Define phase has been added to recognize the importance of having a well-scoped project and to be in line with the current practices across GE):
(1) Phase 1 - define (D). Who are the customers and what are their priorities
A Six Sigma project team identifies a project suitable for Six Sigma efforts based on business objectives as well as customer needs and feedback.
As part of the definition phase, the team identifies those attributes, called CTQs (critical to quality characteristics), that the customer considers to have the most impact on quality.
(2) Phase 2 - measure (M). How is the process measured and how is it performing
The team identifies the key internal processes that influence CTQs and measures the defects currently generated relative to those processes.
(3) Phase 3 - analyze (A). What are the most important causes of defects
The team discovers why defects are generated by identifying the key variables that are most likely to create process variation.
(4) Phase 4 - improve (I). How do we remove the causes of the defects
The team confirms the key variables and quantifies their effects on the CTQs.
It also identifies the maximum acceptable ranges of the key variables and validates a system for measuring deviations of the variables.
The team modifies the process to stay within the acceptable range.
(5) Phase 5 - control (C). How can we maintain the improvements
Tools are put in place to ensure that under the modified
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Lean 6? – Root Cause Analysis process capability from the external customer’s and VOP perspectives Introduction Six Sigma has emerged as a method of identifying, classifying and solving problems that affect the overall productivity of a business. Large industrial names such as GE and Motorola have proved the efficacy of utilising Six Sigma over and over again.
A number of researchers and authors have presented definitions on six sigma. Interestingly, their understanding of the concept is expressed in different words but the meaning is standardized. We can say that six sigma is a tool employed for the measurement and improvement of operational performance of an organization.
Six Sigma uses a variety of quality management procedures and groups the workforce into a special infrastructure that is based on the employee’s skills (Pande & Holpp, 2002). Every Six Sigma project follows a specific sequence of steps which has its own objectives.
According to the principle of Lean Six Sigma, "the activities that cause the customers' critical-to-quality issues and create the longest time delays in any process offer the greatest opportunity for improvement in cost, quality, capital and lead time." (George, 2002) It is the synergy of Lean and Six Sigma with a goal of reducing manufacturing overhead and quality cost by 20% and inventory by 50% in less than 2 years (George, 2002).
It provides a unifying theme for initiatives directed at improving organizational performance. As IT companies move along the six-sigma learning curve, they will encounter the same challenges they confronted with previous initiatives: project proliferation, limited payback, competition with other efforts and inapplicability to larger problems.
The root cause may also be internal in origin, such as lack of motivation and initiative among employees or a flaw somewhere in the production line, which is as difficult to isolate and quantify. This problem has become so common in present-day efforts to achieve operational excellence that management scholars advocate the adoption of the Six Sigma methodology, which is basically about defect identification and prevention, cycle time reduction and cost savings.
While the essentials of the methods were initially invented by Bill Smith at Motorola in the year 1986, Six Sigma was profoundly enthused by six previous decades of excellence development strategies, such as quality management, TQM, zero defects, etc.
In specific, emphasis has been given on the following matters by the Six-Sigma method.
The statistical representation of Six Sigma describes quantitatively how a process is performing. To achieve Six Sigma, a process must not produce more than 3.4 defects per million opportunities. A Six Sigma defect is defined as anything outside of customer specifications.
Such companies include the Texas Instruments, Dell, Kodak, Allied Signal, Microsoft, Sony, and General Electric. However, right from its origin, Six Sigma emphasizes on the application of problem solving tools and statistical techniques in a