This chapter introduces the key ideas behind Six Sigma and Visual Six Sigma; our focus is on the latter. Six Sigma is a potentially huge topic, so we only have space to mention some of its essential ideas. There are already numerous well-written books and articles dealing with the many and diverse aspects of Six Sigma as commonly practiced.1 We also note that today, digital tools (software, databases, visual media, etc.) are leveraged extensively in Six Sigma initiatives.2
Our goal in this chapter is to provide an overview of Six Sigma so that you start to see how Visual Six Sigma fits into this picture. However, it is worth pointing out in advance that you can only gain a proper appreciation of the power of visualization techniques by working with data that relate to real problems in the real world.
BACKGROUND: MODELS, DATA, AND VARIATION
There is no doubt that science and technology have transformed the lives of many and will continue to do so. Like many fields of human endeavor, science proceeds by building pictures, or models, of what we think is happening. These models can provide a framework in which we attempt to influence or control inputs so as to provide better outputs. Unlike the models used in some other areas, the models used in science are usually constructed using data that arise from measurements made in the real world.
At the heart of the scientific approach is the explicit recognition that we may be wrong in our current ...