There is a saying with regards to quality that if it is not 100%, then the quality of the product or service is bad. Six Sigma is a set of practices which tries to achieve just that, near perfection in Quality. If I would tell you that the Quality standards as per Six Sigma standards is 99.99998%, you would infer directly that it is almost near perfection. And that 99.99998% translates to 3.4 Defects per Million opportunities, which means 3.4 errors for one million transactions. That is a huge representative for perfection.
Some myth-busters about Six Sigma
•Six Sigma is very subjective in its approach - It is completely the inverse of it. Six Sigma is fuelled by data all the way with very little room for text. Even the performance improvement measures which Six Sigma advocates through its DMAIC model is data-driven.
•Six Sigma can only measure quality only- Though Six Sigma is set of quality practices, the practices are developed and targeted in such a way that a quantitative metric could also be measured very easily. The Six Sigma process does not stop with measurement of data. It goes some more steps ahead and analysis is performed, improvement measures are suggested and then the improvement measures-driven data is measured. All these steps come together to reengineer a process to ensure that the objectives of the business are always met.
•One can only improve on existing processes with Six Sigma - If one had to define Six Sigma in industry terms, it would be something like this "It is a set of practices which reengineers processes to ensure that customer satisfaction levels are met always. In case, process does not existed, process can be engineered to ensure that customer satisfaction levels are met." Essentially, the DMADV model of Six Sigma allows you to design and validate new processes which could be possible factors to impact customer satisfaction.
•Six Sigma is all about Green Belt/Black Belt/Yellow Belt - It is exactly the opposite. Green/Black/Yellow belt certified professionals who are trained in Six Sigma. But the success of a Six Sigma process improvement measure can be successful only due to two factors - The strength of the process and the ability and the cooperation of the employees to execute the project.
Six Sigma with its tools and statistical controls has become a synonymous name with companies who wish to establish strong business processes which will deliver results with the minimum variations. Though, it initially started of being a set of practices for the manufacturing sector, it is catching up speed in other industries as well.