Six Sigma Strategies: Creating Excellence in the Workplace By ...


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Six Sigma Strategies: Creating Excellence in the Workplace By ...

  1. 1. Six Sigma Strategies: Creating Excellence ciencies. in the Workplace A true Six Sigma organization pro- By Mario Perez-Wilson duces not only excellent product but also maintains highly efficient production and During the last decade, numerous arti- administrative systems that work effectively cles have explained the Six Sigma quality pro- with the company's other service processes. gram but few have proposed a standard, sys- However, not every organization takes this temic approach for implementing it. Yet the holistic approach. A manufacturer, for program's benefits are substantial and worth instance, may concentrate instead on imple- pursuing. menting Six Sigma for outgoing product qual- ity—through 100 percent final inspection, for A gauge of quality and efficiency, Six example— thereby assuring that quality level Sigma is also a measure of excellence. for its customers. But production processes Embarking on a Six Sigma program means still may run at low yields with high scrap delivering top-quality service and products ratios and defects. while virtually eliminating all internal in effi- Copyright, 1997, QCI International 1
  2. 2. That is the typical scenario. A better tence. strategy optimizes the production process, bringing it to Six Sigma (i.e., plus or minus six Obviously, a strategy outlining the nec- standard deviations within specifications) and essary elements for a successful Six Sigma assuring high yields with little or no scrap or quality program would be preferable. The fol- defects. Any product made by such a process lowing approach will help organizations inter- also will fall within specification limits. ested in implementing such a program. Thus, implementing a Six Sigma pro- The Six Sigma challenge gram in manufacturing means more than deliv- ering defect-free product after final test or Once an organization decides to imple- inspection. It also entails concurrently main- ment a Six Sigma program, it must impart the taining in-process yields around 99.9999998 challenge to every employee. This includes not percent, defective rates below 0.002 parts per only people close to production—where million and virtually eradicating defects, indexes and measurements are relatively easy rework and scrap. to implement on physical processes—but also administrative and service providers. Other Six Sigma characteristics include operating processes under statistical Through an executive directive, the control, controlling input process variables— organization establishes its Six Sigma chal- rather than the usual output product vari- lenge, vision, customer satisfaction promise, ables—maximizing equipment uptime and goal and new measurement indexes. The optimizing cycle time. directive distinguishes between former busi- ness policies and the new challenge of working In administrative processes, Six Sigma toward excellence. It establishes a common may mean not only the obvious reduction of goal for all employees in the organization: cycle time during production but, more impor- reduce variability (i.e., standard deviation) in tantly, optimizing response time to inquiries, everything they do. The directive requires all maximizing the speed and accuracy with employees to participate in a day-long course which inventory and materials are supplied, outlining the "Five W's" of Six Sigma. This and foolproofing such support processes from course explains the who, what, where, why errors, inaccuracies and inefficiency. and when of the organization's new way of doing business. Because Six Sigma in essence means overall excellence, implementing it requires In a Six Sigma organization, employ- more than simply explaining what Six Sigma ees assess their job functions with respect to means and expecting everyone to begin doing how they improve the organization. They it immediately. Such an approach leaves define their goals, or the ideal of excellence in numerous questions unanswered, directions their roles, and quantify where they are cur- undefined and everybody—particularly those rently—their status quo—with respect to these inexperienced with the concept—scrambling ideals. Then they work to minimize the gap to invent their own version of the program. and achieve Six Sigma by a certain date. The inevitable free-for-all that ensues yields all too few successes, lowers the program's Individuals in the finance department, acceptance rate and endangers its very exis- mail room, human resources, purchasing and Copyright, 1997, QCI International 2
  3. 3. everywhere else also are challenged to achieve The quality goal should not be zero Six Sigma in everything they do, cumulatively defects, by default an impossibility and simply bringing excellence to the organization as they unreasonable. Rather, the organization should achieve individual excellence in their jobs. set a value, such as 0.002 parts-per-million defective (plus or minus six sigma), 3.4 parts- For an organization to reach Six Sigma per-million defective (4.5 sigma shifted) or successfully, the program must define a stan- some other challenging but achievable value. dard approach. If the approach is left unde- A Six Sigma quality goal strives for a stringent fined, too many individuals will spend too but achievable Cp and Cpk value equal to 2.0. much time engineering and reengineering it. This value would bring considerable profit to Standardizing a methodology to achieve Six an organization. Motorola, for example, estab- Sigma allows individuals to focus on reducing lished a quality goal of 3.4 parts-per million the standard deviation within their individual defective (Cp=2.0, Cpk=1.5). projects rather than obsessing over method. It also establishes a common approach that It usually takes a team working a few speeds up the execution of all Six Sigma hours a week for a few months to characterize improvement projects. a machine or process. Characterizing all processes in a manufacturing site usually takes This standardization creates a common continuous effort for a few years. During that language and a common cause among all period, an organization must invest its employees. Many organizations implementing resources, time and money. A five-year plan quality programs become mired in arguments mapping the organization's progress from its and disagreements over methods and never present state to Six Sigma is necessary. move forward. A Six Sigma program, by con- trast, focuses on reducing variability and To keep the program focused, sched- reaching excellence. uled and running in a timely manner, the five- year plan should identify teams and their mem- Establishing a quality goal bers as well as schedule processes and machines. The five-year plan itself should be An important aspect of the Six Sigma reviewed annually. At this stage, it may prove program is total process characterization, helpful to hire a consultant. This person would which involves optimizing all manufacturing train, facilitate, coach and guide organizations processes to a very high Cp and Cpk value (see as they develop a Six Sigma program; assist in sidebar on page 6). M/PCpS is a systematic planning and managing process characteriza- approach for characterizing, optimizing and tion studies; and oversee the program's imple- controlling a process; achieving a high Cp and mentation. Cpk value marks a team's success in reaching Six Sigma. When deciding the order in which process steps or operations should be sched- An organization must establish a Cp uled for process characterization, it helps to and Cpk goal. It should be tied with the orga- rank the steps according to their impact on the nization's quality goal, which is established product's final characteristics. Such a process throughout the organization by an executive might proceed as follows: directive. o Form a team of process and product engi- Copyright, 1997, QCI International 3
  4. 4. neers, as well as product managers. archives, available for use by other teams as o Identify all the process steps for a particular they study similar processes, also can fulfill product line. documentation requirements of ISO 9000 and o Review each process step, starting with the QS-9000. first one. o Identify all the response variables within The consultant should request each process step. bimonthly reports from each team to track and o Classify each step as critical (c), major (M) report their efforts to management. This or minor (m) with respect to its impact on the bimonthly reporting avoids any surprises dur- product's final characteristics. ing the monthly presentations concerning a team's lack of progress. The reports note Once all the process steps are classi- progress toward Six Sigma and compare that fied, schedule them into the five-year plan, progress with goals established in the five-year first scheduling the critical, then the major and, plan. The consultant measures and tracks actu- finally, the minor process steps. al vs. scheduled times to keep the whole pro- gram in focus and in motion. Team Presentations and documentation Award recognition and M/PCpS competi- A Six Sigma program requires a tion review, as well as an audit, to make sure every- thing progresses as planned. During a presen- To recognize teams and promote inter- tation held each month, teams report on the est in the quality goal, management should progress of their process characterizations present an award to each team member who and/or improvement studies. Teams follow successfully completes a process' full charac- standard formats for quick, direct and efficient terization (i.e., achieves Six Sigma). The presentations. The presentations should award comprises three things: a plaque and emphasize data, which is as important as the attachment, a pin and nomination in the teams' conclusions. Teams should describe M/PCpS competition. The award plaque their progress, roadblocks, milestones, needs should be designed so that attachments for and findings. each completed project can be added. External and internal organization experts are Once a year, all teams whose projects invited to attend these presentations. The team have achieved Six Sigma participate in the shares the knowledge it acquired with atten- M/PCpS competition. Teams present their pro- dees, which enhances learning and experi- jects, their approaches and their improve- menting. Managers provide support and com- ments. Judges from within the organization mitment, keeping the team focused on the assess the teams' roles and improvements to organization's objectives. After hearing atten- ensure they meet evaluation criteria. Through dees' comments, the team decides on a pro- a process of elimination, they select a winning ject's direction. team. A Six Sigma process improvement In this event, employees see firsthand book also is kept in the production area. As the the organization's commitment to quality, projects progress, documentation of all efforts improvement and efficiency. The M/PCpS related to the process is archived here. The competition encourages empowerment Copyright, 1997, QCI International 4
  5. 5. through demonstration and action. The win- strategy for implementing Six Sigma only ning team becomes that year's M/PCpS com- increases the likelihood of a company achiev- petition winner and receives some form of ing this worthwhile goal. compensation, such as an extra week of paid vacation. About the author Creating company-wide excellence Mario Perez-Wilson is the founder and principal con- Nontechnical processes within, say, the pur- sultant of Advanced Systems chasing or finance departments, are considered Consultants based in invisible processes because their elements are Scottsdale, Arizona. He has over 23 years of not physical or tangible like those in produc- industrial experience in engineering, quality tion. Due to their intangibility, nontechnical and process improvement and has served at the processes are difficult to define, measure, executive level as Corporate Vice President of quantify and optimize to Six Sigma levels. Quality for Flextronics International. Nevertheless, a methodology for opti- One of the original architects of Six mizing nontechnical processes to Six Sigma Sigma, he served as a Division Statistical levels also should be standardized throughout Methods Engineering Manager at Motorola. the organization. This methodology should During his tenure, he institutionalised and include process delineation, index measure- standardised the application of statistical meth- ment generation, data collection for quantify- ods and Six Sigma in Motorola's worldwide ing the process, a structured gap-minimization manufacturing, production and engineering strategy for performing statistical analysis operations. His proprietary M/PCpS™ (most likely, using nonparametric statistics) Methodology for characterizing processes has and to demonstrate significant improvement received global recognition as the first toward Six Sigma. methodology to achieve and sustain Six Sigma. He can be reach at 480-423-0081 The Six Sigma quality program has a ( rightful place in the overall organization, but particularly in manufacturing. When properly implemented, the program reduces inefficien- cies and produces very high yields and returns. This requires proper planning and implementa- tion. All too often, with resources limited and attention to detail lacking, the organization's vision falls short of expectations, and the pro- gram stumbles along or is summarily terminat- ed. Given the substantial investment—and the potentially substantial rewards—a Six Sigma program warrants a long-term vision and commensurate attention and resources. Developing a cohesive and comprehensive Copyright, 1997, QCI International 5