Glass Week Presenter Provides Detailed Look at Six Sigma Methodology
belt, green belt and champions were all discussed by Alan Leigh of DuPont during
a presentation he gave yesterday during Glass Week-and he was not speaking about
the winners of a martial arts competition. Black belts, green belts and champions
are just three of the roles and responsibilities of Six Sigma, a business management
process that, ultimately, is designed to help businesses reduce waste and excess
Leigh explained that with Six Sigma, a company would have only 3.4 defects
per million opportunities; a two sigma would have 308,537 defects per million
Six Sigma was developed in 1987 by Motorola and since that time numerous other
companies have adopted the practice, including DuPont in 1999. Leigh said that
in DuPont's first Six Sigma year there was 1,100 active projects with $150 million
value; but 2002 there were more than 10,000 projects valued in billions.
To explain the Six Sigma methodology, Leigh used the acronym DMAIC:
- Define: Agree on the problem to be solved or the opportunity to be addressed
- Measure: Set the improvement target, including the current data available
and the additional data needed
- Analyze: Gather input, or "the voice" of the customer, analyze that
data and decide what is critical
- Improve: Prioritize improvement opportunities and generate action plans for
the most improvement
- Control: Implement the improvement plans and monitor the process to ensure
the benefits are locked in
He also talked about the types of projects for which Six Sigma works best,
and those for which it is not good.
An "ugly" project would be world hunger, as its scope is too large
and the goal is "amorphous." Bad projects are those that have team members
without time enough to commit, involve too much capital, no management support
or without a strong measurement system.
A good Six Sigma project has accessible historical and current data, strong
support and sponsorship; there is also no capital investment and is achievable
in four to six months.
Five of the key roles in Six Sigma are:
- Champions: These people are managers. They identify the black belts, establish
project selection processes and project review processes, set financial targets
for benefits, remove organizational barriers, they include six sigma in the budget
process and reward results. It is either a part or full time position.
- Master Black Belts: These are the "guardians of technology." They
provide the technology and methodology leadership, develop and deliver training,
they coach and counsel black belts and green belts and ensure the success of "mission-critical"
projects. It is a 100-percent assigned role.
- Black Belts: These people are recognized by peers as top performers, are skilled
in project management and team leadership, lead and complete four to six projects
a year at $175 million per projects and also mentor green belts. It is also a
100-percent assigned role.
- Green Belts: This area is more of a competency rather than a role and is a
certification achieved while doing your normal job. It is a personal goal for
all leadership and requires seven to nine days of training as well as completion
of a Six-Sigma project.
Leigh summarized by saying Six Sigma is simply a methodology for strategy to
improve business. It focuses on the voice of the customer, data and measurement,
using improvement tools and results from a project-by-project approach.