What is Six Sigma?


Blend a structured approach for solving problems with a scoop of project management and a helping of statistical tools. Add a side of common sense. What do you have? Six Sigma.

One of the most internationally renowned quality management methodologies, Six Sigma is a framework for finding the right solutions for reducing – and even completely eliminating – a process defect. It does so by pinpointing the underlying root cause with data, rather than tending to symptoms.  

Though often associated with manufacturing, Six Sigma’s virtues are recognized and embraced across all sectors, from finance and healthcare to government and service. Scratching your head over how to quicken purchase order lead times? Patient satisfaction scores taking a plunge? Six Sigma can address these issues and many more.

How can Six Sigma have a positive impact?

  • Fosters rapid and breakthrough process improvement
  • Reduces and controls variability in processes to minimize errors
  • Improves customer satisfaction through an enhanced customer focus
  • Leads to better, fact-based decisions
  • Decreases operational expenses
  • Eliminates waste and invaluable work

The tools of Six Sigma

Six Sigma originated with Motorola, but the credit for its widespread adoption goes to General Electric. The backbone of the methodology is the DMAIC problem-solving process: define the business issue, measure the baseline performance, analyze data to identify the root cause, improve the process, and control the improvements so that gains are sustained.

In combination with DMAIC, organizations use a variety of Six Sigma concepts and tools, such as:

  • MinitabTM statistical analysis software
  • Design of Experiments
  • Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA)
  • Statistical Process Control