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A Holistic View of Six Sigma

Aug 17, 2007
"Only the overall review of the entire business as an economic system can give real knowledge" - Peter F. Drucker

No one needs to emphasize the holistic approach the Six Sigma deployment takes on overall business processes. All processes in an organization present at least one opportunity for improvement. Having a limited picture about the limitations of Six Sigma and its applications projects an all together different picture.

At the enterprise level, each company must consider the entire application of the project and this is certainly beyond the line employee level.

A Little Background

We have all known Six Sigma as a deployment strategy related to company activities and we have examples for justification. We have many glaring examples of successful and not so successful companies in recent history. Motorola, DuPont and General electric are some cases in point. Also known to us are the failures of deployment mostly in non- manufacturing businesses.

While thinking along the same lines, if in your understanding, Six Sigma is not applicable to your organization or industry, perhaps what first step you may take is answer whether it can improve the financial situation of your company within an acceptable timeframe. This fundamental answer must be obtained even before the project selection process. Answers to whether Six Sigma can work in all processes and parts of the organization must be put into place.

Thinking Beyond The Shop Floor

Notions and misconceptions such as those confining Six Sigma to the shop floor and relegating it as something of a quality implementation tool dedicated for manufacturing industry must be shown its due place for it to show results of any significance. The 'beyond the factory' approach encompasses almost all non-manufacturing aspects of the economy, not excluding those in the new economy group. For example, law offices, non-profit organizations, online business and the transport sector.

Three Critical Steps To Take Six Sigma Benefits Beyond The Shop Floor

Holistic thinking does not exclude non-production activities within organizations. Activities that don't produce physical products but are still parts of production activities that go into manufacturing, as well as service industry sectors, such as transport industry or consultancy firms, contribute to the economy in a larger meaning by value creation. The following critical steps help reap major benefits in implementation:

* The Strategic Deployment: Think through the overall deployment of Six Sigma initiatives across the entire organization.
* The Tactical Deployment: Tactically selecting, conducting and closing the projects in all those environments.
* Methodical Deployment Of Operational Tools: Applying the analytic techniques of Six Sigma properly when facing common challenges beyond the shop floor, such as skewed (non-normal) distributions of cycle times, or the predominance of discrete data.

Holistic thinking In Six Sigma calls for adopting a statistical approach in its entirety to all aspects of conducting business and looking beyond statistics is an embedded part of deployment. Judgmental timing and accuracies assume the same degree of significance of decision making. There is not one single sure-fire formula to ensure the success of it.
About the Author
Tony Jacowski is a quality analyst for The MBA Journal. Aveta Solution's Six Sigma Online offers online six sigma training and certification classes for lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.
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