Some argue that many of the tools Six Sigma uses are not new. However, while Six Sigma uses conventional methods, its application is anything but conventional. Instead it stresses the importance of searching for a new way of thinking and doing. In fact, Six Sigma defines a clear road map to achieve Total Quality:
In conclusion, Six Sigma’s approach and deployment makes it
distinguishable from other quality initiatives. The Six Sigma approach involves
the use of statistical tools within a structured methodology for gaining the
knowledge needed to achieve better, faster, and less expensive products and
services than the competition. The repeated, disciplined application of the
master strategy on project after project, where the projects are selected based
on key business objectives, is what drives dollars to the bottom line, resulting
in impressive profits. Moreover, fueled by the bottom line improvement, top
management will continuously be committed to this approach, the work culture
will be constantly nurtured, customers will definitely be satisfied, and Total
Quality will ultimately be achieved.
|A functional specialty within the organization.
||An infrastructure of dedicated change agents. Focuses on
cross-functional value delivery streams rather than functional division of
|Focuses on quality.
||Focuses on strategic goals and applies them to cost,
schedule and other key business metrics.
|Motivated by quality idealism.
||Driven by tangible benefit far a major stockholder group
(customers, shareholders, and employees).
|Loosely monitors progress toward goals.
||Ensures that the investment produces the expected return.
|People are engaged in routine duties (Planning,
improvement, and control).
||“Slack” resources are created to change key business
processes and the organization itself.
|Emphasizes problem solving.
||Emphasizes breakthrough rates of
|Focuses on standard performance, e.g. ISO 9000.
||Focuses on world class performance, e.g., 3.4 PPM error
|Quality is a permanent, full-time job. Career path is in
the quality profession.
||Six Sigma job is temporary. Six Sigma is a stepping-stone;
career path leads elsewhere.
|Provides a vast set of tools and techniques with no clear
framework for using them effectively.
||Provides a selected subset of tools and techniques and a
clearly defined framework for using them to achieve results (DMAIC).
|Goals are developed by quality department based on quality
criteria and the assumption that what is good for quality is good for the
||Goals flow down from customers and senior leadership's
strategic objectives. Goals and metrics are reviewed at the enterprise level
to assure that local sub-optimization does not occur.
|Developed by technical personnel.
||Developed by CEOs.
|Focuses on long-term results. Expected payoff is not
||Six Sigma looks for a mix of short-term and long-term
results, as dictated by business demands.