In and goal, a methodology and an image

In Greg Brue’s book, Six
Sigma for Managers, Brue puts forth a method designed to act as a road map
to assist managers become more effective and invaluable to their company. By
first understanding the basic principles of six-sigma referred to as DMAIC:
define, measure, analyze, interpret, and control. Then, its implementation and
key tools and roles in order to enhance a company’s process and profits.


From the onset, Brue wants the reader to recognize
that six-sigma is not just a management approach, but also a statistical base
of measurement, a philosophy and goal, a methodology and an image of quality. That
being said, in statistics the concept “sigma” is used to depict standard
deviation, a symbol that represents the amount of variation in a process or
measurement. For reference, Brue details sigma levels and its corresponding
defects per million opportunities: a sigma level of 2 corresponds with 308,537
defects, a sigma level of 3 corresponds with 66,807 defects, a sigma level of 4
corresponds with 6,210 defects, a sigma level of 5 corresponds with 233
defects, and lastly a level of 6 corresponds with 3.4 defects. This leads us to
a statistical approach that measures defects in a process, known as six-sigma. Essentially,
six-sigma is to be at 99,9997% as perfect as possible. If perfection were
attainable why would an organization operate at anything other than a sigma
level of six? In fact, Brue states that most organizations in the United States
operate at the minimum sigma level of three and four: 99.379%. These
organizations believe this to be an adequate level but in reality it represents
poor performance. So, why operate at 99.379% when you can be at 99,9997%? If
that’s the case then why do most organizations in the United States operate at the
minimum sigma level of three or four which is 99.379%? In fact, organizations
believe 99.379% to be an acceptable level but in reality it translates to extremely
poor performance. However, is 99.379% enough to persuade an organization to
adopt six-sigma? The answer to this is money, customer satisfaction, quality,
growth, competitive advantage, and employee pride. Unlike other quality
approaches Brue wants to assure his readers that six sigma is not a trend and
corroborates this by providing success stories of companies like Motorola, GE
and AlliedSignal. These companies all reported increasing their profits by
billions since their six-sigma inception in which Brue credits to the
elimination of poor quality and its cost – scrap costs, rework, plus excessive
cycle times and delays. This translates into the cost of business lost due to
dissatisfied customers and cost of opportunities lost due to a lack of time or
resources. Using Deming’s view of quality Brue develops critical-to-quality
(CTQ), which is “elements of a process that significantly affect the output of
that process. Identifying these elements is figuring out how to make
improvements that can dramatically reduce costs and enhance quality

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