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The Genesis of Six Sigma Methods

 
 

Motorola's Search for Improvements.

The electronics giant Motorola had for years sought to improve business performance through quality initiatives. A number of gurus were working to improve quality and performance in the company and had put their ideas to the management team. But it was the late Bill Smith, a reliability engineer, who captured the imagination of the legendary CEO, Robert Galvin, when he put forward the Six Sigma concept. As a consequence, Galvin set Six Sigma as one of the company's quality objectives.

Processes within the company had become increasingly complex and system failures had arisen as a result of process complexities being outside of much of the traditional thinking about quality. Smith's thinking embraced both the traditional view of reliability (the mean time between failures) and quality (process variability and defect rates).

The Six Sigma Academy.

Mikel Harry, president of the Six Sigma Academy, was co-author of "Six Sigma: The Breakthrough Management Strategy Revolutionizing the World's Top Corporations". He teamed up with Smith and together they formed Motorola's Six Sigma Institute. Their methods for raising the Sigma level of organisations included:
 

 Parthenon Consultancy for project management, safety training and business books Statistical Process Control (SPC)
 Parthenon Consultancy for project management, safety training and business books Advanced Diagnostic Tools (ADT)
 Parthenon Consultancy for project management, safety training and business books Planned Experimentation (PE)
 Parthenon Consultancy for project management, safety training and business books Design for Manufacture - Product Capability and Complexity (DFM)
 Parthenon Consultancy for project management, safety training and business books Accomplishing Quality Through Projects (QTP)

Process Improvements.

There was a shift from seeking quality improvements looking only at product attributes to considering the surrounding operational procedures. The focus was to prevent errors at source. This brought about improved customer loyalty as a result of customers valuing quality improvements.

Investment in process improvements brought Motorola up to the Three Sigma level. This was a very creditable improvement, but the target was for Six Sigma. Educating suppliers brought performance up to about Five Sigma, and this looked for a while as if could not be improved upon. Finally, concentration on design improvements (systems design, parameter design and tolerance design) finally made Six Sigma possible at Motorola.

The Karate terminology.

The complexity levels of the Six Sigma methods which individuals are competent to practice are designated names in the tradition of karate: 

 Parthenon Consultancy for project management, safety training and business books Yellow Belt
 Parthenon Consultancy for project management, safety training and business books Green Belt
 Parthenon Consultancy for project management, safety training and business books Black Belt
 Parthenon Consultancy for project management, safety training and business books Master Black Belt

Six Sigma Across the World.

News of the work at Motorola spread, and General Electric in the USA predicted that adoption of Six Sigma methods would result in savings of 10 billion USD over five years. Now 10 billion USD is a figure which focuses minds. Little wonder that industrialists the world over are actively investigating how to implement Six Sigma in their organisations.

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