Six Sigma is a quality management methodology that helps businesses improve current processes, products or services by discovering and eliminating defects. Members of Six Sigma focus on streamlining quality control in manufacturing or business processes, with the goal of improving consistency, productivity and efficiency.
Six Sigma principles
Six Sigma projects include five stages that guide businesses through the process of defining goals, measuring and identifying requirements, analyzing processes for defects, improving errors and maintaining that control in the long run. Members of Six Sigma slowly climb the ladder to take on more ownership of managing Six Sigma projects in the organization.
Six Sigma Belts
The Six Sigma methodology uses a ranking system to establish clear leadership roles for quality management. It starts with green belts, who are new to the methodology and learning it alongside their current role.
Black belts are the next level up. They mentor green belts and are also responsible for executing on specific tasks within the Six Sigma strategy.
Once you reach the master black belt level, you’ll focus solely on Six Sigma projects. You’ll either mentor green belts or help Champions, who are the next level up in the hierarchy.
Champions handpick Master Black Belts and are responsible for executing on the executive leadership’s vision.
The highest tier is executive leadership, which includes the CEO and other executive management staff charged with developing the vision for Six Sigma implementation.
Tips for choosing a Six Sigma project
The best Six Sigma projects have a clear process of inputs and outputs – and you should never go into it with pre-determined ideas of how it will turn out. Ultimately, a Six Sigma project should help reduce variation and make it easy for anyone in the organization to follow.
GE and Motorola were two of the first companies to widely embrace and promote the benefits of Six Sigma in large organizations. Since then, it seems no shortage of large organizations have jumped on the bandwagon.
If you’re interested in implementing Six Sigma in your business, there are plenty certifications and training courses designed to get you started.