What is Six Sigma?

Continuous Improvement Strategy

What is Six Sigma? Six Sigma is a methodology for reducing variation in a given process. It helps improve process capability and greatly reduces the potential for possible defects. In essence Six Sigma is an approach to improve processes and reduce variation, so that customers get near perfect products or services with as little variation as possible.

There are two approaches to Six Sigma application, namely DMAIC and DMADV.

DMAIC – Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control

Each of these are stages in the process improvement methodology. This methodology is applied to existing processes, or in other words processes that are in place but not operating at an optimal level or the process is producing defects.

DEFINE

The voice of customer is collected, the project charter is put together, scope is finalized, the process performance goal or target is established, and the project team is formed.

MEASURE

The team brainstorms the potential root causes and comes up with the plan to collect the data that would be needed to track the project performance goal and establishes the baseline and the root causes data.

ANALYZE

Identify the vital few root causes through extensive statistical analysis, if needed.

IDENTIFY

Creative solutions are identified to validate the potential root causes and implements them in the improve phase.

CONTOL

Once the improvements are validated and the project performance goals are met, a control plan is drafted and controls put in place to ensure the improved process is stabilized.

DMADV – Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, and Validate

This methodology is applied where processes do not exist. A perfect example would be when a company is planning to launch a new product which they have never done before.

DMADV is also called DFSS or Design For Six Sigma, since the goal of this methodology is to design a process that will be able to deliver products or services at a six sigma level, less than four defects per million products produced.

It is important to note that in many cases the six sigma goal is a hypothetical target, in that companies might not want to design a process at such a high defect free level.

Designing and maintaining processes to sustain outputs at such high yield levels might not always make business sense. DMADV follows a more rigorous approach compared to DMAIC, and it usually takes longer to complete DMADV projects.


Six Sigma is an important part of providing high quality customer value. The Six Sigma approach helps process improvement and reduces variations in services or products. Being Six Sigma certified can add value to your organization. An easy wway to become certified is by taking Online Six Sigma Training Courses.

 If online training is not what you are looking for, there are always public training classes scheduled around the US. Check our training classes for a city near you: Classroom Training

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