There’s a lot to learn when you’re new to Lean Six Sigma, and lots of strange words and concepts. People start talking about Muda (waste), 5S (keeping an orderly workplace) and DMAIC (process improvement), and it can easily seem like a foreign language. People speak about them as if they’re obvious terms, when sometimes you need explaining from the start.
WHAT IS SIX SIGMA?
Six Sigma is about improving processes, and is applicable to all businesses. It aims to reduce the number of issues in your processes which cost you time, money and customers. It has its origins in manufacturing, but can be applied to all sorts of businesses, where you want to remove error and mistakes which affect productivity. Six Sigma as a term means that 99.9997% of what you produce is free from defects (3.4 errors per million operations) per opportunity.
WHY USE SIX SIGMA?
A lot of modern businesses are full of waste and error. 1 in 1000 is a very small amount of error compared to most companies. Is it OK if 0.1% of operations go wrong, is it OK if 0.1% of bank transfers to go wrong? When customers can choose suppliers from all the countries of the world, will they be happy with 0.1% of your product being useless. Or will they pick one which won’t give them regular problems?
Modern processes usually have complex operations with multiple opportunities for things to go wrong per unit produced:
As you can see, as the complexity increases, you need six sigma level quality to have a yield that will be anywhere near acceptable, and running at the traditionally acceptable 3-4 sigma levels cannot be used any more. As you can see from the chart, as you improve your sigma level, your yield (proportion of defect free product) goes up greatly.
Six Sigma is a tried and tested method to remove this error and variance from your company. It will save your company time, money and greatly improve your reputation with your customers.
WHY BECOME A SIX SIGMA BLACK BELT?
There are great advantages to becoming a Six Sigma master, both personally and to the advantage of your business; these include:
- A large reduction in the costs of business related to waste (both time and resources)
- Six Sigma can greatly improve the quality of your product, improving your company’s reputation
- Being a Six Sigma black belt makes you more valuable on the job market, opening up more jobs to you, and increasing your earning potential
- You will learn skills which can be applied to all areas of your job
HOW TO BECOME A SIX SIGMA MASTER
This website should (eventually as I make it) become your resource to do everything you need to pass Six Sigma master. You then just need to take the exams (which vary from institute to institute), and perform at least one case study. I’m (hopefully) on the road to becoming a Six Sigma Master, and will put everything I learn on this website so you can come along too.
WHERE TO START?
Sometimes the hardest thing is the first step, so where’s the best place to start when getting to know Six Sigma? If you want to work out which level you want to reach, you could start by looking at the different Six Sigma belts. If you want to dive straight in and do a project, I’d personally go for DMAIC, which is the core part of a lot of Six Sigma methodology. For more of a browse, there’s the Tools page to have a look around, and it might be worth having the terminology tab open for if I’ve accidentally used some unfamiliar jargon (or if your colleagues at work do).