What is Six Sigma?

Six Sigma is a powerful tool when used correctly. Jennifer Williams, a consultant says that Six Sigma can be a powerful tool. “I have yet to find an industry that would not benefit from Six Sigma, so even for beginners, it’s always a great investment for your career.” Lean and Six Sigma belts hierarchy is a collection of resources, tools, and methods for quality management and business process improvement and 5 steps. Six Sigma is a method to improve quality by identifying defects and determining their cause. It also helps to improve processes and increase repeatability and accuracy. The company’s bottom line will improve by increasing efficiency and decreasing defects.

Six Sigma uses statistical methods to identify problems and improve processes in order to achieve near-perfect output. Data-driven improvement projects follow a specific sequence with specific goals. To sponsor, manage and finish the project, Six Sigma-certified teams are formed.

Lean and Six Sigma is a method and set of tools that help us to measure and improve our performance. It can be used in any industry or business because wherever there is a process, it can be studied, measured, and improved upon,” Kimberly McAdams, Six Sigma Master Black Belt, Principal at FireFly consulting.

Six Sigma, a popular method that gained popularity in American businesses in the 1980s is now widely used. Six Sigma is touted as having many benefits, such as reduced waste, a better understanding of customer needs, and cost savings of up to 50%.

What is Lean Six Sigma?

The Six Sigma framework is a variation that combines Lean Management principles and Six Sigma methodologies. Six Sigma is focused on reducing variability among deliverables and waste. Lean Management focuses on reducing production cycle time and waste. Six Sigma is focused on fixing and finding defects after the fact while Lean focuses on preventing defects from ever occurring. Lean is best implemented by first increasing efficiency. Six Sigma methods then are used for fine-tuning. Lean Six Sigma is used in manufacturing, finance, IT, and other areas.

Sermin Vanderbilt, Founder of the Six Sigma World Conference, and President of the American Quality Institute. She says that Six Sigma is getting it right all the time, or most of them, 99.9% of the time. Six Sigma is a requirement for almost every company. Six Sigma is all about accuracy. Lean is all about cutting costs and cutting time.

What is Six Sigma, in short? Jack Welch, one of its most prominent proponents, said that Six Sigma was a quality program that improves customer experience, lowers costs, and creates better leaders.

What are the 5 steps of lean and six sigma belts hierarchy tools and resources?
What are the 5 steps of lean and six sigma belts hierarchy tools and resources?

Six Sigma’s History

Motorola introduced Six Sigma in 1984 as a quality goal. Although the term “sigma” (with a lowercase S) was used in statistical process control as far back as the 1920s, Motorola’s first use of the term “sigma” was in the 1920s. These formal methods were developed from 60 years of quality improvement theory including Total Quality Management, and Zero Defects.

Motorola discovered that many of the same lean and six sigma tools and methods they used to reduce defects in parts manufacturing could be applied to other areas of their business. Other large companies, such as Allied Signal, adopted the method over the years. Six Sigma was a true star in the 1990s, when Jack Welch, GE’s CEO, announced remarkable savings due to Six Sigma.

ISO (International Organization for Standardization), published the first Six Sigma certification in 2011. However, no single Six Sigma organization publishes the complete body of knowledge. There may be standards and training offered by companies, colleges, universities, or consulting firms that are slightly different.

In the 2000s, Lean Manufacturing was created with an emphasis on streamlining processes and reducing waste. Six Sigma principles were also used to create Lean Six Sigma. This framework provides organizations with methods for streamlining processes and then detecting or eliminating defects and inefficiencies.

Six Sigma Processes

Six Sigma is a result of statistical process modeling in manufacturing. A sigma, also abbreviated as a small or Greek letter, is a measure of standard deviation. A process that is well controlled created something that is within +/-6s Six Sigma. This means that there is very little deviation from the standard, and it is within acceptable limits. Six Sigma is also known as 6s. Motorola trademarked the name Six Sigma in the 1990s using capital letters.

Practically, the Six Sigma process results in 99.99966% of all deliverables (called opportunities) being free from defects. The process produces 3.4 defects for every million opportunities (DPMO). Sigma levels can be described as the deviation of a process or deliverable from perfection. Sigma defects can be described as failing to meet customer expectations. This is an important concept. You have a high chance of producing items that meet specifications if you aim for the Six Sigma level. There are several Sigma levels, which indicate the allowed number of defects per million, and the maturity level of a process. The table below shows the details.

What are the benefits of Six Sigma?

Six Sigma is a new methodology that focuses on financial goals and quantifiable goals. Data-driven decisions based on statistical processes can help you achieve your goals, not hypotheses.

Many companies attribute Six Sigma to bringing them significant savings. Motorola, for example, claims $17 billion in savings. Although Six Sigma’s initial results at GE were not promising, Six Sigma processes saved the company $12B between 1995 and 2000. Six Sigma is used by more than 50 percent of Fortune 500 businesses. The methodology has saved over $400 billion over the past 20 years.

Six Sigma is a standard practice used by large corporations. Some consider it too complex for small businesses. For more advanced certifications, it can be prohibitively costly for small businesses to obtain formal certification.

What are the Six Sigma Principles of Excellence?

You’ll see slight variations in Six Sigma belts hierarchy principles depending on where you look. These are the principles that guide the approach.

  • Business success is dependent on constant efforts to ensure predictable and stable process results.
  • Manufacturing and business processes can be measured, analyzed, improved, and controlled.
  • To achieve sustained quality improvement, the whole organization must be committed, especially the upper and middle management.
  • Every process can be described and analyzed in detail. You can also improve them.
  • It is important to continue to evaluate your performance. You must stop doing what you are doing and evaluate what went well or poorly.
  • Eliminating variation reduces cost and improves the quality

Six Sigma Methodology Resources

Six Sigma principles are implemented through methods, or roadmaps for improvement, such as a workflow. DMAIC is the main methodology and DMADV is the second.


DMAIC focuses on improving existing processes incrementally with these 5 steps of the Six Sigma belts hierarchy. This is Six Sigma’s most well-known methodology resources. Here is a breakdown of the acronym.

D Define customer requirements and project goals.

M: Determine the main aspects of your current process. McAdams states, “This is where you begin to understand your process. This is when data can be collected on it.”

A: Analyze data. You need to find out what errors are common and where they occur in order to target them. It always looks at the 80/20 rule. McAdams says, “Let’s see if 20 percent of those reasons give us 80 percent of our defects. Then let us reduce them.”

I: Enhance processes. Verify that the improvements are working.

C Monitor future implementations to prevent errors from reoccurring.

What are the 5 steps of lean and six sigma tools for beginners?
What are the 5 steps of lean and six sigma tools for beginners?


DMADV focuses on improving new products and processes in accordance with the 5 steps of Six Sigma standards and resources. Here is a breakdown of the acronym.

D: Define company or customer goals.

M Measure Critical Quality (characteristics that are critical to quality) assess product capabilities, production process ability, and risk.

A: Analyze your measurements.

D: Design the new process that is based on the results of the previous step.

V: Check the design with a pilot run and then implement the new process. Then, hand it over to the process owner.

Analysis Tools

Six Sigma belts hierarchy practitioners employ various tools during the phases of these methodologies to analyze and measure processes and their outcomes. Here is a partial list of some of the most commonly used six sigma tools and resources:

  • Control charts
  • 5 Reasons
  • Root Cause Analysis
  • CTQ Tree (Critical To Quality)
  • Control of statistical process
  • Process mapping
  • ANOVA gauge R&R (analysis to determine variance gauge repeatability, reproducibility, and repeatability)
  • Pareto charts
  • Value Stream Mapping
  • Business Process Mapping and Checksheet
  • Diagrams of cause and effect, fishbone diagrams, or Ishikawa diagrams are examples.
  • Taguchi method

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