“If I were given one hour to save the planet, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute resolving it,” Albert Einstein said.
Those were wise words and we can find great examples of organizations applying them today and much more that need to become better at asking the right questions so that they tackle the right problems. Asking questions until you get to the root cause of a problem draws from the famous Five Whys problem-solving technique developed at Toyota and employed as one of the key tools of Six Sigma today. This is only one of many strategies that are now applied within different industries to help organization improve their operational efficiency.
Six Sigma is a set of very focused and highly effective practices and proven principles. Sigma is a letter in the Greek alphabet used by statisticians to measure the variability in any process. A company’s performance is measured by the sigma level of their business processes. Traditional companies accept 3 or 4-sigma performance levels as the norm despite the fact that these businesses generate between 6,200 and 67,000 problems per million opportunities! The Six Sigma standard of 3.4 problems per million opportunities is a response to the increasing expectations of customers and the increased complexity of modern products and processes.
Despite it’s name, Six Sigma’s magic isn’t in complex statistical or mathematical razzle-dazzle – it lays within a simple performance model known as Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control.
- DEFINE the goals of the improvement activity
- MEASURE the existing systems
- ANALYZE the system to identify ways to eliminate the gap between the current performance of the system or process and the desired goal
- IMPROVE the system
- CONTROL the new system
Through this cycle, Six Sigma focuses on improving quality by helping organizations produce products and services better, faster and cheaper. There is a direct correspondence between quality levels and “sigma levels” of performance. At the end the goal is to minimize the errors(waste) per million opportunities(produces units or transactions within the organization). Thus, the benefits of Six Sigma go straight to the bottom line. Traditional organization would spend 25 to 40 percent of their revenue fixing problems – the so called cost of quality or more accurately cost of poor quality. Companies operating at Six Sigma typically spend less than 5 percent of their revenue fixing problems.
At HutGrip, we are always looking for ways to increase efficiency and minimize any kind failures for our customers. The Six Sigma philosophy is a natural fit to what we are doing every day and we see that the HutGrip system can help companies utilize the Six Sigma techniques in their business and production processes. We love it because Six Sigma is really about the data, no that much about intuition and feelings but relying on historical data, measured right from the source.
In a series of articles we will cover some of the most effective Six Sigma tools, how they work and how can they be applied.