More Six Sigma Basics

Six Sigma as we discussed in our earlier post is not intended to as a quick fix but is rather a systematic process and procedure that is focused on ongoing quality improvement. The ultimate goal of a Lean Six Sigma project is continually improved and sustained quality through an improved and more efficient process.

Six Sigma delivers these improvements by focusing on reducing and removing defects and eliminating waste. This is accomplished through research and data collection so it's not a quick process but rather one that requires time. Organizations can over time reduce errors and rework saving the company time, lost business opportunities and money. The real goal like other quality improvement projects is to ensure that the product or service meets the standards of the customer!

To accomplish this, organizations need to meet several deliverables under the DMAIC model.


  • Build a project team capable of actually accomplishing the objectives & committed to solving the problem(s). Ensure that management buy-in includes all the necessary resources to actually solve the issues.
  • Identify the issues that actually matter & develop a project charter which should include the known business processes.


  • Identify the key measures and come up with a plan to ensure that this information can be obtained. Create an initial baseline and communicate this to all parties.



  • Probably the most critical stage, but also the most difficult. Define and develop possible solutions, along with an implementation plan.


  • Standardization is the key with control. Standardize the processes, document procedures and implement the monitoring plan to ensure that the improvements have had the desired effect.

How to Land the Perfect Job - Part 1 (Job Boards & Recruiters)

While this post is not specifically customer service or operations related, it is something you've probably experienced or will experience at least once in your career so it's worth exploring. I've talked a bit about interviewing and using LinkedIn and other job boards in some previous posts.

I've also talked about job searches, resumes and how to be effective at finding a new role.

In the next set of posts though I thought I'd bring it all together.

Benefits of Using Job Boards

If you are stuck in the middle of a job hunt, you should try searching on job boards. Job boards are quite convenient when it comes to being updated with the latest job positions available. 

One of the major benefits of job boards is that employers can find you instead of you searching for them. In job boards, you can post your resume under your profile such that employers can see your qualifications and contact you. A better resume will attract more employers.

With job boards, you can customize your searches regarding the specific job you want. This means you can get a job that fits your exact qualifications. Unlike other job searching methods, job boards allow you to spread your resume across different employers without physically presenting it. This increases your chances of landing a job

Job boards can modify or arrange your resume and cover letter to make it more appealing to the employer. They have professional writers who can write you a winning resume that is sure to impress the employers. Job boards are a simple and affordable way of job searching.

Working with a Recruiter 

When you’re searching for a job, a recruiter can be very important in getting a brilliant job. A good recruiter with a number of connections with employers can be what you need when looking for a senior level job. 

For most recruiters to provide their services, they will probably require that you have strong credentials that will no doubt land you a job. The advantage of having a recruiter is that they will ensure that you get a job whatever it may take. Since they are paid on commission, landing you a job is their main goal. With their experience in the hiring field, you can learn helpful information that will help you sell your role to the interviewing firm. 

You should know that the recruiter doesn’t disclose every detail to you. After receiving the company’s hiring requirements, he can determine whether you are fit for the role by looking at your present skills. The company may not be after your profile but it may be after your skills.  

Recruiters usually have a broad network of employers through which they can easily connect you to. If you haven’t had any fruitful results lately, you can try searching for a recruiter. 

You can take the easy approach and ask your friends for a recruiter they know or you can search online through the Advanced People Search Page on LinkedIn. Through this channel, you can get a wide array of recruiters including those who have been hired by specific companies. 

Nonetheless, recruiters are inclined to accept strong profiles so don’t be offended when they refuse to contract their services. It simply means you should build your career profile some more. 

The Basics of Six Sigma

Six Sigma's goal is process improvement and variation reduction. By improving processes and reducing defects, customer satisfaction is naturally improved.

Minimizing defects in production through continuous improvement. Six Sigma focuses on measuring the impact of an improvement project and uses the following phases:

  • Defining
  • Measuring
  • Analyzing
  • Improving, and
  • Controlling

We've seen this before in the DMAIC process that we discussed when talking about KPIs & the Importance of Measurement.

A sigma is a measurement of variance and denotes the variance from a mean average of an event. "Six Sigma" assumes a failure rate of 3.4 parts per million or 99.9997%. Six Sigma focuses on efficiencies and reducing costs. It also accounts for the "cost" of poor quality and works to reduce it.

Reducing Poor Quality

We've talked about Quality and Customer service before, but it bears repeating again. To reduce poor quality, there are certain actions that need to be taken:
  • Understand who your customers are and what matters to them.
  • Understand customer feedback (the Voice of the Customer) and see how that applies to your product/service & then prioritizing resolution based on the issues related to your product
  • Understand your internal processes and what causes variation
  • Understand the right metrics to measure and how to standardize
  • Understand what causes a defect and how it can be addressed
Once you realize that every process can be measured and analyzed, it's not too far a leap to understand improvements based on the analysis are possible. By continuing this process of improvement (continuous improvements) you can gradually reduce variations and improve the final product.

The Meaning of Six Sigma

I talked in an earlier post about 99% uptime and how great that sounds but in reality, it's pretty horrible. 99% uptime actually equates to -

  • Unsafe drinking water almost 15 minutes each day. 
  • 5,000 incorrect surgical operations per week. 
  • Two airplane accidents at most U.S. major airports each day. 
  • 200,000 wrong drug prescriptions each year. 
  • No electricity for almost 7 hours each month.
As you can see, that's a pretty dire state of affairs. By contrast:
  • At the 1st Sigma level - 690,000 defective parts/million occur
  • At the 2nd Sigma level - 308,538 defective parts/million occur
  • At the 3rd Sigma level - 66,807 defective parts/million occur
  • At the 4th Sigma level - 6,210 defective parts/million occur
  • At the 5th Sigma level - 233 defective parts/million occur 
  • At the 6th Sigma level - 3.4 defective parts/million occur (99.9997%)
Business success depends on improving business process and results in combination with great customer service. Some tangible and realistic benefits based on implementing the methodologies promoted by Six Sigma include:
  • Reduced repair times
  • Increased customer satisfaction
  • Reduced order delays
  • Reduced defects
  • Increase productivity
  • Decreased Measurement Error

History of Continuous Improvement

Shewart and Deming helped define quality in the early 1900s. In 1920 Walter Shewart explained that three sigma is the point at which a process needs to be corrected. This is where a product would need to be remade as it would fail a quality audit. Edwards Deming, on the other hand, pointed to management and made it clear that it is their responsibility to improve the systems so that workers can work more effectively. Based on his research, management owned 80% of the quality problems and the workers could only influence 20% ... by the way, any chance you've seen that ratio before?

If that name sounds familiar then you've probably heard of the Deming Cycle before (pictured above). Deming taught something called the System of Profound Knowledge which had four related parts. The theory of (1) Optimization, (2) Variation, (3) Knowledge, and (4) Psychology.