Six Sigma Definition: What You Need to Know

Six Sigma is a process and quality management methodology, which is associated with a belt-based certification program and 5 levels of belts. Six Sigma belts are: Master Black Belt, Black Belt, Green Belt, Yellow Belt and While Belt. These certifications also outline the roles team members play on the Six Sigma team to best achieve the purpose and definition of a Six Sigma project.

Six Sigma Definition: Standard Metric

The standard metric for Six Sigma is 3.4 defects per million opportunities. Therefore, for every 1 million transactions that go through a system, there can be 3.4 errors and still achieve "six sigmas" – this measurement comes from a technical term used in statistics.

Six Sigma Definition: Background

Six Sigma is a methodology developed in 1986 by a Motorola employee. In 1996, General Electric made a full implementation of Six Sigma, making it the core philosophy of the company. This led to significant improvement of the processes and results in General Electric, including reduced costs and improved project timelines. Today, Six Sigma methodology and certifications are considered the golden standard for process and quality management and improvement of process outputs in organizations.

Six Sigma Definition & Methodology

Six Sigma approach is mostly based on the logic of identifying and removing causes of defects/deviations of the process outputs, minimizing variability in manufacturing in business processes. Consequently, all Six Sigma results are highly quantified, which makes it a convenient tool. Six Sigma methodology employs a variety of quality management approaches, including common statistical methods, empirical approaches and the like.

Reflected in the definition, Six Sigma processes heavily rely on efficient and well structured teams of Six Sigma professionals. These teams are an efficient infrastructure of people with streamlined processes, roles and goals. These people are called according to their Six Sigma credentials and their defined roles: Champions, Black Belts, Green Belts, Yellow Belts, etc. These project team members work in sync to reach their quantified value targets, which commonly include increased profits, reduced pollution, lower costs, increased customer satisfaction etc. In best case scenarios, Six Sigma projects lead to up to 50% cost reduction – depending on the specific of the organization, industry and other factors. This is why over the years Six Sigma methodology has gained an excellent reputation with organizations all over the world, and holders of Six Sigma credentials reportedly get 20% higher salaries that their counterparts who do not have Six Sigma certifications, yet possess other comparable credentials.

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