Six-Sigma is a mathematic-based procedure that is applied in the strengthening of the organizational capacity for ongoing development. Six Sigma is also recognized as six standard of deviation. It aims at reducing the defects rates of 3.4 defects per million defect opportunities by identification and elimination of causes of variation in business. This approach was developed by Motorola in 1980s, and it has drastically improved the quality within the organizations. According to George 2002, Six-Sigma focuses on providing an explicit understanding of the customers’ needs and satisfaction, both of which directly affects the organization. Six-Sigma is supported by Six Sigma tools and methods that are called Six Themes of Six Sigma. They include:
Genuine Focus on the Customer
This theme ensures that customers focus is the main priority. The assessment of this approach normally begins with the customer needs. Six Sigma developments are usually defined on the basis of their influence on customer value and satisfaction.
Data and Fact-Driven Management
Six Sigma strategies enhance the concept of management by facts. It ensures that managers understand the data and information applied enhance maximum benefit of the organization
Process Focus, Management and Improvement
Six Sigma normally focuses on the processes rather than the end results in business operations. Six Sigma positions the process as the key vehicle to organization success. It analyzes and fixes the process itself thus allowing the organization to build a competitive advantage over their competitors through customer satisfaction.
Six Sigma has the practices and tools that replace reactive habits with a responsive, dynamic proactive management style.
In all parts of an organization, it is normally essential to include all strategic vendors and partner in order to keep their focus on the customer’s needs. Six Sigma expands the opportunities for collaboration as people learn how their roles and responsibilities fit in the organization vision. In addition, Six Sigma improves the teamwork between all organization parts and disintegrates obstacles between marketing and sales.
Drive for Perfection
No organization can achieve Six Sigma without introducing new approaches and ideas to the organization business operations. Therefore, any organization that makes Six Sigma its goal needs to work hard to be ever more perfect with regard to customer needs. For an organization to achieve this goal, it needs to embrace and manage occasional changes in its business operations.
Six Sigma vs. Edwards Deming’s 14 Points of Business Management
When it comes to business practice and theory, Six Sigma and Edward Deming presents similar suggestions and thoughts of helping the business to create an environment for continuous improvement. For instance, they both keep the workers and the management integrated in the improvement process. Although practices of Six Sigma and Deming are similar, they are different in some aspects. According to Deming 2000, business improvement is defined by the Plan, Do, Study, Act (PSDA) cycle of advancing business processes and application. Through this, Edward Deming means that a manager need to observe a process in order to pinpoint where it can be improved to meet the expectations of the customer while lowering losses. In contrary, the Six Sigma has a different approach that is defined by recognize, define, measure, analyze, improve, control, standardize and integrate. This approach is a more scientific approach as compared to Deming approach that more philosophical.
According to George 2002, the major advantage of Six Sigma over that Edward Deming is that Six Sigma is normally customer oriented. In its definition, a limit of 2.4 defects per million processes and product is highly emphasized. Anything that is inacceptable to the consumer is usually considered a defect. In addition, Six Sigma addresses whole process involved in completion of a service to the customer rather than final result. Six Sigma is a proactive as compared to Edward Deming approach. It is a proactive approach that determines how improvement can be achieved in the business process even before the defects or shortcomings are identified. This aspect makes Six Sigma a unique approach in quality management in business operations.
The impact of both approaches is getting the upper management involved in the creation of a workplace environment that supports continuous business processes improvement. However, the approaches proposed by both Deming and Six Sigma are different. The PDSA technique focuses on a business process that applies small improvement repeatedly in quick succession. In contrary, the RDMAICSI techniques in the Six Sigma employs a more planned approach where the business process is monitored into details before multiple improvement are initiated at once. This makes Six Sigma better that Edward Deming because of cost effectiveness.
In comparison to Six Sigma, Edward Deming framework implies that business improvement becomes a part of every person’s responsibility even when an individual is incompetent or insufficiently trained. In addition, the framework itself is not well designed to output the promised points of conformance with the business plan. Therefore, it disadvantages the process. The Deming cycle is also limited in scope in comparison to Six Sigma. It only applies more to individual processes that are geared toward self-improvement rather than to the improvement of an organization. Furthermore, it fails to take into account at the strategic and operational objectives of a business.
Six Sigma builds upon the successful elements of the previous quality improvement strategies and it incorporate a unique method of its own. In relation to other quality management and improvement strategies, Six Sigma stands as the best method of identifying the cause of a particular quality issue in business operations. George 2002 states that sigma can be used to complement other quality management and improvement system such as Edward Deming approach.
Six Sigma is powerful quality management tool for improving the long-term viability of an organization, and can be an agent of both growth and change in a company. In comparison to Edward Deming’s 14 Points for quality improvement, Six Sigma approach is not restricted to an organization alone because it have cascading effects and has the potential to bring change and makes the organization to be more competitive.