Six Sigma is a process improvement methodology pioneered by Motorola (initiated by engineer Bill Smith, known as the 'father of Six Sigma'). It became prominent through the success of General Electric, during the tenure of CEO Jack Welch who was an advocate for Six Sigma.
The methodology uses process improvement methods, with an emphasis on statistics to achieve a quality level of better than 3.4 defects per million opportunities. Key elements are:
- the organizational structure, including the roles of Champion. Master Black Belts, Black Belts and Green Belts
- the DMAIC/DFSS structured problem solving approach
In its classical form, Six Sigma is a project based approach, tackling projects that will return $100,000+ savings and take several months. Many companies now use an approach that involves more, but smaller, projects, and is less statistically intensive. These are often led by Green Belts rather than Black Belts.
The Black Belt is the team leader responsible for the operation and outcomes of major Six Sigma projects. To achieve Black Belt status it is necessary to demonstrate mastery of the tools, through an examination and completing a project in industry.
The important high level business result that the Six Sigma project seeks to improve. The 'Big Y' should be linked to the critical customer requirements.
The Big Y is often used to generate 'little y' operational objectives that must be improved to achieve Big Y improvements. The Big Y might be to reduce lead times, the Little y could be the inventory performance at the warehouse.
Senior managers who champion the project, ensure that they are properly resourced and obtain support in the organization.
A person who leads change within an organization, by championing the change, and managing and planning its implementation. The role can be official or voluntary.