What affect does Six Sigma have on QS/ISO 9000 initiatives? Baldrige Award assessment? Other certification efforts?|
Mary C., Quality Improvement Director
A Six Sigma program can be integrated with these other initiatives. Motorola developed their Six Sigma program in pursuit of the Malcolm Baldrige award. The Six Sigma program can serve as the shell that wraps around other initiatives, including Lean Thinking, for example. Readers may be familiar with the Six Sigma DMAIC methodology (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control), which is similar to the Shewhart/Deming PDCA, yet more rigorous.
The Document Control aspects of ISO 9000 are useful for standardizing on known practices in an organization. When you decide to change practices or procedures, revision control ensures the proper personnel review the changes and notifies affected personnel these changes have been incorporated into standard practices. Corrective Action requirements in ISO 9000 ensure problems reported by customers, auditors, or internal staff are addressed in a timely fashion. Preventative Actions are similarly tracked to demonstrate an organizational commitment to proactive improvements to their products and services.
Six Sigma provides the tools and methodology to implement change in an organization. Six Sigma Projects are selected and sponsored by management to achieve strategic objectives. While some of these objectives may be discovered through analysis of ISO 9000 Corrective Action data, Six Sigma organizations often take a more proactive approach to maximize value to the customer and improve the competitive position. These projects are assigned to teams consisting of process personnel who are stakeholders in the change, and led by a trained Six Sigma Black Belt. This management oversight ensures teams have the resources and authority to make necessary changes to achieve their planned objectives. The Black Belt leads the team through the DMAIC methodology, to first Define and scope the projects goals, Measure the process baseline, Analyze the potential sources of variation, deploy the means to Improve the process, then finally establish a Control plan to standardize on the new process and ensure it remains at the improved level of performance. This rigorous methodology ensures a complete analysis has been done to prevent the sub-optimization that occurs when critical factors have been neglected. The Control stage provides a means to measure the longer-term project results, and prevent the process personnel from returning to previous methods, especially when coupled with an ISO 9000-type Document Control system.
Learn more about the Lean Six Sigma principles and tools for process excellence in Six Sigma Demystified (2011, McGraw-Hill) by Paul Keller, in his online Lean Six Sigma DMAIC short course ($249), or his online Green Belt certification course ($499).