The Evolution of Six Sigma, Lean Sigma and FIT SIGMATM


Today, depending on whom you listen to, Six Sigma is either a revolution slashing trillions of dollars from Corporate inefficiency, or it's the most maddening management fad yet devised to keep front-line workers too busy collecting data to do their jobs.

USA Today, 21 July 1998

At the time of writing, it has been 12 years since the above statement was made. During this time the ‘Six Sigma revolution’ has created a huge impact in the field of operational excellence, yet conflicting views are still prevalent.

Let us evaluate the arguments for both sides. On a positive note, the success of ‘Six Sigma’ in General Electric (GE) under the leadership of Jack Welch is undisputed. In the GE company report of 2000, their CEO was unstinting in his praise: ‘Six Sigma has galvanised our company with an intensity the likes of which I have never seen in my 40 years at GE.’ Even financial analysts and investment bankers compliment the success of Six Sigma at GE. An analyst at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter recently estimated that GE's gross annual benefit from Six Sigma could reach 5% of sales and that share values might increase by between 10% and 15%.

However, the situation is more complex than such predictions would suggest. In spite of the demonstrated benefits of many improvement techniques such as total quality management (TQM), business process re-engineering and Six Sigma, most attempts by companies to use them have ...

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