Six Sigma is a statistical process control (SPC) tool used to introduce and implement TQM (total quality management) in many industries such as those engaged in manufacturing or rendition of services. It was originally developed by Motorola to improve its manufacturing processes using statistical techniques back in 1986 and has since been widely adopted by many businesses worldwide such as General Electric (GE) under Jack Welch with tremendous success. The Six Sigma basic principle is anchored on a data-driven methodology to reduce production defects using all designated six standard deviations from the mean and the nearest statistical specification point. The whole idea of the Six Sigma is to use stringent statistical analysis to detect defects and to identify specific areas during the entire production process where these defects occurred and remedy the defects. Once identified, quality-related issues are to be resolved and eliminated from the entire production process to reduce defects to a bare minimum of 3.4 defective product units per million of production cycle as acceptable.
At the very heart of Six Sigma is the customer. Companies which adopt Six Sigma are in essence trying to satisfy the customer by making the customer king in terms of what is called as “satisfaction experienced” by marketing experts. Customer satisfaction applies to all manufactured products or services rendered, so Six Sigma is very applicable to all industries. While Six Sigma is focused on using TQM, the people using Six Sigma should not lose sight of the customer as the ultimate arbiter of whether Six Sigma is successful or not. At any rate, Six Sigma is not merely a mechanical statistical tool to improve products or services but entails a different paradigm. It requires total commitment to a new mindset that demands wholehearted active participation from the highest to the lowest echelons for quality.
Statistical data gathered during Six Sigma is very huge and further involves analyzing big data sets to detect any anomalies or deviations that require corrective action to reduce all defects to the barest minimum and minimize the variability in output. Companies that had persisted in implementing Six Sigma as a corporate strategy are well rewarded in terms of the higher sales generated, greater employee job satisfaction, and enhanced customer satisfaction. In other words, Six Sigma achieves not only fewer product defects or less lousy services but also longer product life cycles and much fewer customer-related issues such as complaints or adverse feedbacks. Six Sigma as a business strategy is quite complicated and time consuming but organizations which adopt it successfully can markedly improve their chances of survival.
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