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Visual Six Sigma: Making Data Analysis Lean by Leo Wright, Mia L. Stephens, Philip J. Ramsey, Marie A. Gaudard, Ian Cox

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2.2. Six Sigma

Some common perceptions and definitions of Six Sigma include:

  • A management philosophy.

  • Marketing hype.

  • A way to transform a company.

  • A way to create processes with no more than 3.4 defects per million opportunities.

  • Solving problems using data.

  • A way to use training credits.

  • Something a company has to do before Lean.

  • Making improvements using data.

  • A way to make money from consulting, training, and certification.

  • A pseudo-religion.

  • A way to get your next job.

  • Something a company does after Lean.

In spite of this diversity, there seems to be broad agreement that a Six Sigma initiative involves a variety of stakeholders and is a project-based method utilizing cross-functional teams. A performance gap is the only legitimate reason for spending the time and resources needed to execute a Six Sigma project. From this point of view, questions such as the following are vital to a Six Sigma deployment:

  • How big should the performance gap be to make a project worth doing?

  • How can you verify that a project did indeed have the expected impact?

However, for reasons of space, our brief discussion will address only the steps that are followed in a typical Six Sigma project once it has gained approval, and what resources are needed to execute it.

Using the background presented in the beginning of this chapter, we offer our own succinct definition of Six Sigma:

Six Sigma is the management of sources of variation in relation to performance requirements.

Here, management refers to some appropriate ...

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