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The Five W's and One H Approach to Six Sigma

Aug 7, 2008
The five W's (who, what, when, where and why) and one H (how) are used to understand the system in the analysis and design phases.

Let us briefly understand the application of this approach to Six Sigma.

1. What - Understanding The Concept

The first W stands for - What - is Six Sigma. Six Sigma is a concept that aims at reducing defects so as to improve the customer satisfaction.

In statistics, Six Sigma means standard deviations. In the Six Sigma methodology, it stands for 3.4 defects per million opportunities. Understanding customer satisfaction levels is the key to successful Six Sigma projects. This understanding helps bring about changes in products and processes to match customer expectations, as well as to save on costs.

It helps improve the performance of an organization by reducing the variations in the services and products and providing good quality products. It is a tool to improve the efficiency and the effectiveness of the organization.

2. Why - The Objective Of The Project

Achieving Six Sigma is the objective of the project. It means that the goal is to improve the processes and products to the extent of delivering defect free products and services. It requires listening to internal and external customers of the process to bring about the best product, which meets customer requirements.

This provides an opportunity for the organization to improve sales - and thus achieve sustained profitability.

3. Who - The People Involved

Six Sigma requires the involvement of all members of the organization, from the senior management to those in charge of the processes. Top management decides and appoints sponsors, who in turn will select the Champions, Master Black Belts, Black Belts and Green Belts.

These members have to work towards the success of the project, and relate the advantages to every employee in the organization. They have to make Six Sigma a way of life of the organization.

4. Where - Location For Implementation

Six Sigma is applied to all processes of the business. Initially, it can be aimed at a strong problem area, but with the advantages of the project visible to everyone, it can be implemented in all the processes and products as well.

The entire organization will thus undergo a change to ensure increased profits due to improved quality and customer satisfaction.

5. When - When To Apply Six Sigma

Initially, Six Sigma can be applied to problem areas where customer satisfaction is lacking. It can be applied when the need is felt to improve and retain the organization's leadership position in the industry, as well as market share.

It needs to be used when overall processes need improvement to remain competitive in a specific area of business.

6. How - How To Apply Six Sigma

Six Sigma projects are aimed at improving existing processes and eliminating the defects using the DMAIC roadmap. They can also achieve success by bringing about an entire process redesign or new product development using the DFSS roadmap. Process management is useful when existing process improvements need to be sustained.

This approach of five W's and one H considers all the factors that are necessary to bring the Six Sigma culture to an organization - which is necessary to maintain the levels of customer satisfaction leading to increased profits.
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 six sigma professionals including, lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.
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